The statistics are disheartening no matter how you define weight maintenance.
Here are two extremes:
5% of people manage to stay within about 5 lbs of their goal weight.
20% of people manage to keep off at least 10% of the weight they lost in the first place.
But look at these numbers:
NELLJONES has maintained for almost 41 years.
SHIRLEYD1959 has maintained for over 23 years.
JACKIERN and BETH7CAM have maintained over 8 years.
PERSISTENCEMIMI, ZUCCHINIQUEEN, CAROLJEAN64, and JCORYCMA have all maintained over 5 years.
When I'm trying to do something that is hard, I like to have role models. For bicycling, Lance Armstrong is a pretty good one. I like to read about how he eats, trains, and LIVES. I'm not Lance and I'm not going to ride in the Tour de France anytime soon, but I still get good ideas and motivation for my own training. And that makes me a better cyclist.
Weight maintenance, as shown by the statistics above, is also difficult. Unlike world class bicycle racing, or even the world of weight loss, we almost never see maintenance role models acknowledged, let alone celebrated. So how do I even find out who is good at this game so I can learn from their experiences?
I make a list, that's how.
As one way to keep ourselves focused and engaged, we've started celebrating maintenance anniversaries in the At Goal and Maintaining team.
In the process of finding out when to celebrate those anniversaries we've also ended up collecting a list that can be sorted in terms of how long people have maintained. You can see it here:
Those long-term maintainers are the folks that the REST of us need around. For their advice, support, and as living, breathing examples of people who are putting in the work every day to keep their fitness. They have life throwing them curve balls too. And they have setbacks. And they overcome them.
Over 60% of us on the At Goal and Maintaining team have maintained less than 2 years.
I think if we can figure out how to stay engaged and focused and learn from these people, I think we can beat those depressing published odds.
We've started having maintenance challenges, to see who is good at holding weight steady for two months. And we're brainstorming and investigating other ways to keep ourselves interested and involved.
If you are maintaining and would like to celebrate YOUR anniversary, I encourage you to join the team
and also put yourself in our list of maintainers:
And if you'd like to make maintainers more visible and celebrated, one thing you can do is "like" this post so more people will see it (and them).
Update: One year later the list is still going strong, with twice the number of maintainers on it!