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Now (THEN) what?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

You've joined SparkPeople....

You've been faithful to your 'diet' of choice...

You've reached that promised land called 'goal weight...

It's interesting... I've been here four years now, and I have still to reach that elusive promised land called 'goal weight'.

I've been frustrated, envious, angry, disillusioned, and mystified as I've watched MANY people begin this journey and in less than a year lose a comparable amount of weight (or more) to the fat I am seeking to eliminate. I truly don't understand how they've managed to do so with *comparative* ease as compared to someone like me who endures plateau literally on top of plateau' and has to fight for every pound eliminated.

I initially thought it was because I just wasn't willing to do what they did (don't do anything to eliminate fat, that you're not willing to do to maintain your achievement).... and that is true to a degree (though I no longer believe it to be the root)... I was/am absolutely unwilling to do endless cardio/exercise, or feed my body in ways that don't make sense to me, or in any way define myself by my weight (which is what you are doing when you make any aspect of what you do/don't weigh the focus of your daily life).

Despite the struggle, and because I'm ever-hopeful and determined (and because, perhaps, I needed to find some way to identify with the successes of others lest I allow my spirit to be crushed), I started making maintenance my focus.... And if I could figure out how to not gain weight, at the very least, that should eventually put me ahead of the game, right?

Weird, you think?
Perhaps.... though I'm more convinced than ever that I've chosen the better portion. (If nothing else, this journey has taught me just how and what it means to be Mary instead of Martha.)

I often wondered as people have 'graduated' (and/or disappeared) these last four years, often when they reach 'goal weight', if they will ever return.... and suddenly many of them are.

What's the statistic? Fewer than 5% of people maintain their weight loss for more than 5 years?

What strikes me about this is the burden they all seem to carry... shame, anger, embarassment, for some another layer of rationalization, self-recrimination... and my heart breaks for each one... that feeling of resultant helplessness is so heavy to carry.

As I read their stories, many also seem genuinely mystified. I mean, they manged to do this through all the other upheavals in their life (many were terribly challenged and stressed as they battled to goal weight), so why couldn't they continue to keep the weight off once goal weight was achieved? Or again now... why isn't the weight coming off like before (because somehow it's not as easy)... right?

As I've read/followed their journeys, something occurs to me and, from what I've learned about maintenance, I venture:

I wonder, is it possible that you've replaced the 'drug' of food with the 'drug' of weight loss and transformation?

Is it possible that as the excitement of your new reality has worn off (being slimmer, wearing fun clothes, engaging with people differently, no more daily scale love in the form of drops - immediate gratification) and you settled into the usual, boring aftermath - no big deal, everyone else quickly moving on from your accomplishment - that you've started to miss the 'high' of continual reinforcement, and in response to the resulting feeling of 'emptyness' (lows always follow highs) you've once again inadvertantly reverted to your old more familiar, immediately responsive and more easily accessable 'drug' and habits (of which certain foods are a part... only to find - thank god - that it doesn't have the same effect... because now you additionally experience a sense of defeat and self-betrayal)?

When you started on this journey, did you give any thought to who/how you would be in the end besides 'thin' or 'happy' or simply 'happy to be thin'?

Did you think about how you would continue to build a regular sense of accomplishment and on-going success into every day... what you'd be doing to foster a sense of self-esteem if you weren't focussed on eliminating fat (finding the strength and courage to eliminate fat is a huge self-esteem builder, and how do you exercise your self-esteem muscles when that's gone)?

Did you create in your daily life a really clear picture of what living a maintenance lifestyle would look like? Is it a picture that is attractive to you... do you feel energized at the image of YOU in THAT LIFE?

Did you consider how boring living maintenance might seem, in comparison to a weight loss lifestyle (what will now give you a sense of excitement and exhilaration)?

Did you consider how you would handle stress once you no longer had very specific goals with which to distract yourself (because one of the side-effects of the fat elimination process is that it results in very focussed priorities... "if you focus on your problems, you'll have a problem life" DR. PHIL... and fat elimination facilitates a natural reframe for your time... suddenly 'problems' are simply speed bumps on the way to a goal. How do you make that focus and perspective last beyond 'goal weight)?

From all I've read, your struggle isn't unusual for people who lose a lot of weight quickly. Those of us who have to literally fight (sometimes for weeks) for every pound of fat conquered have A LOT of time to think. The truth is, maintenance isn't as exciting as is eliminating fat.

I'd like to offer some SPARK articles I read when I FIRST started out here, and over the last 4 years... they've helped me immensely in finding personal answers to the above questions, and in preparing me for living my life at goal weight (and for handling the plateaus in the meantime). I think you might find them enlightening:

Stop Dieting and Start Living! Have You Made the Change?

Maintaining a Healthy Weight - Part 1

Maintaining a Healthy Weight - Part 2

Maintaining a Healthy Weight - Part 3

9 Ideas After Meeting Your Weight Loss Goal

4 Steps to Lasting Behavioral Change

Have You Found Your “Inner Normal Eater”?

Maintaining Your New Weight

TEAM: At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance

Productive Failure: Motivation and Maintenance Take Grit!

(THANK YOU, Ellen!)

Rockstars of Maintenance, Revisited

"The best dieting strategy for maximizing your fat loss, and keeping the weight off permanently is to eat and exercise as if you’ve already reached your goal weight and are trying to maintain that weight with a healthy lifestyle.... You should not eat less than it would take to maintain good health and nutrition if you were already at your goal weight. Or, to put it another way, you should eat and exercise as if you're already at your goal weight, and let your body take care of eliminating any excess fat you have right now.... If you want to be a success in the permanent weight loss game, this is by far the best strategy to follow. Figure out... what you want to weigh, would you need to eat in order to maintain that weight... and the daily activity you think you can live with on a long term basis. Then start doing all that—right now [within whatever nutritional model you choose to follow... not all models are calories in/out]." COACH DEAN ANDERSON

While it may seem slow, at this point I'm really glad I chose to listen to Coach Dean four years ago. I am grateful to whatever powers that be for protecting me from the impulse to, in any way, define myself by my weight; or to make any aspect of what I do/don't weigh the focus of my daily life.

For all of you returning, and those of you just beginning... I pray you'll join me.

May today and every day bring to you a ridiculous abundance of whatever you need. May all your concerns, struggles, anxieties and fears fall like ashes as you rise on eagle's wings, SOARING above all that would hinder you along this tremendous adventure of being and becoming all you are created to be. May the grace of God simply "overtake" you moment by moment. May the joy and victory of the risen Lord be yours in a very personal way... may you always be overwhelmed by the grace of God, rather than by the cares of life!

{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}


...Because it's about the JOURNEY, not the destination!



'BEFORE' Pictures (May 31, 2009 - September, 2011) & Continuing PROGRESS (February 2012)! Next pictures September 1, 2012!

(I'm now keeping these right under my nose... in addition to being part of every blog I post, they are printed off and taped to my bedroom mirror)

Measurements, Musings & Motivation to MOVE!

(UPDATED/rewritten: JUNE, 2012)

I've Reached My Goal Weight!!!!!!!

NOTE: My weight tracker is NOT a truthful representation of my weight. Instead, I am using it as a tool to help me visualize my goal as though it's already been achieved!
(Tom Venuto)

UNTIL. (My 'Just Do It' blog)

DONE Girl Love...

(the footsteps into which I place my own feet)

Leaving NORMAL

Why I'm STILL here... my SparkJourney Saga

Words CAN Be Enough... page 3

Paleo... Do you really know what you're talking about?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    This is a terrific and powerful blog: and I "drilled down" through a number of your links to earlier blogs too. Love all your pictures of yourself and your adorable daughter. Love your confidence in the love of your daughter and your husband too.

    So you ask if you are on the right track: and OF COURSE you are. You are engaged in a magnificent process.

    Totally get the whole thing about buying "future goal" clothes. When I was losing, I would hang the "next size" (not the expected "ultimate" size) in my closet and try it on from time to time: totally motvating for me (and thrift stores are a great place to shop for the transitional wardrobe: and to recycle stuff you've grown out of too).

    Anyhow, here's a quote from the ultimate authority about you, which is you:

    "I read the blogs of people who have also learned that the battle you fight in your head and heart is the one that wins this for all of us."

    Absolutely right.

    The single best source of info I've found about "learning to think like a thin person" is Dr. Judith S. Beck, "The Beck Diet Solution". There's a Beck team here at SP too. It's a 6 week program, 42 days, and (don't like the word "diet" much either) absolutely free of that horrible preachy you gotta hate yourself stuff that is so off putting. She taught me strategies from cognitive psychology to think differently about food, eating, weight loss and weight loss maintenance which worked for me. Because it WAS the battle in my head and heart that I too needed to fight.

    I'm going to add your as a friend just so that I get to revisit your magnificent blogs as you keep on trekking!!

    1980 days ago
    Good list of articles. I'm adding the ones that I don't already have in the At Goal and Maintaining team links! LOL

    You might enjoy browsing the other team links, which draw from sources outside SP, too.

    And whenever you're ready for feedback from additional live humans, feel free to join the team!


    1980 days ago
    Ramona, you have always been so insightful and I love this blog. Thank you for giving me helpful information to think about and incorporate into my program.
    2000 days ago
    Oh my goodness Ramona, there is no one like you. You are a rare and wonderful heart and a true gift to all who might happen to read your insightful and inspiring words.

    I can so relate to the goal weight issue. I was so gung-ho when I started on SP. Spending time on the site actually taught me the proper way to nourish my body, for the first time in my life .. . what took me so long you say? I think like the rest of women in my age group, I used to think food was the enemy if you wanted to maintain your weight. You simply had to not eat. Any "food" made you fat.

    I learned that food is exactly what your body needs but it's all about choices. As I lost my two pounds a week up to 20 pounds, I found that the "thrill" of losing was definitely gone. I thought to myself, for the next 7 lbs to reach my original goal weight, I'd be happy if it took the rest of my life to lose them. After that, I slowly slipped back to old habits. It's real easy to do if your mindset changes like that. Having been on both sides of the issue now I can put it into prospective better. I agree you have to know why you are doing it in the first place and because that will become the foundation of your "why".

    My "why" is to keep my blood pressure under control without medication. Right now, I'm on a low dose BP med, but I want to be med free. Stress management is a big part of that puzzle too. Even though my mind says I'm doing well handling my stress, my body says "Who are you kidding"?

    So now I'm back with resolve, well, kind of. I'm still eating out too much which causes havoc with my program, but I realize it's a day by day, bite by bite journey. I heard somewhere the other day the "journey" is the destination. Pretty good huh? So today is another day, and I will eat yet again. So there is always an opportunity to chose the right thing(s).

    Have a beautiful Sunday my dear, lovely friend. I'm so glad you are in my life. Muah!!! XOXOXO
    2000 days ago
    For me, it's a matter of priorities. I am putting myself first (most times) and what that means is scheduling fitness, cooking good meals, trying new foods, and when I slip off the wagon for a day or two to just pull myself up and get back in the game. The last item is the most important. It's not how well we do it one day but the fact that we come back to the game every day!!

    Continued success to you!
    2000 days ago
    I think that we truly have to evaluate the Why part of the question when we look at weight loss and maintenance. Why are we really doing this? I hear so many people say it is for "health". But, is it really?

    I walk around my hospital and am appalled at all the complications that could have been prevented if weight was not an issue. ( This is a huge motivator and eye opener for me)

    Just yesterday I admitted a patient who had lost her legs because of severe diabetes that was uncontrolled. Lost her legs... wow.... I saw a young women my age (late 40's) who had a stroke because the hypertension was uncontrolled( related to obesity). This list could go on and on.... I am sure you get my point. By no means am I judging... I think as a whole country and possibly our world , has been literally fed a line of bull on what will make us happy... And FOOD, inactivity is not the answer.

    Health has got to be our rationale for loosing weight if we want to live a fulfilled life. It is imperative that we eat right, exercise, reduce stress,sleep right if we want to maintain our health.

    I want to be able to dress myself, comb my hair, walk when I am 80. But, if I truly want those things... I have to invest today in myself. What I do today does matter how I will feel tomorrow. I am thankful that the issues about maintaining weight are starting to surface. I am desperate for them.

    2000 days ago
    My personal experience, when I was running every day and working out with weights a few times a week, was that I could have a small treat every day as long as I didn't overindulge, and as long as I was within my calorie range, I would lose weight. I rarely lost more than a pound a week, but I was okay with that.

    One thing about calories: I found that doing a "caloric deficit" calculation was a lot more useful for me than going by the range that Spark was saying was okay to eat. (Google calorie deficit.)

    Here's my story: I got to a very good weight, just 5 lbs above my goal. People I knew, including my own mom (who had goaded me into losing weight in the first place) were telling me they felt concerned that I was getting too thin. (One acquaintance had the temerity - I'm sure she meant well - to ask if I was "losing weight on purpose"! That freaked me out a bit, but I was happy with my lifestyle.

    Then a back injury sidetracked me, and I stopped working out for fear of the pain. Big mistake. I've gained back most of the weight I lost, just from removing daily runs and workouts from my days. I haven't changed my diet, I never sit and eat whole bags of chips or whole jars of nutella. Just stopped running.

    I know I need to get back to running but my schedule is full now. My inner athlete is screaming to get out again!

    Hope this helps!
    2001 days ago
    Well, I've been pretty close to goal weight, and then I rebounded slightly. I've never been one of those people who gained back all the weight they lost. I seem to bounce between +-5lbs. My last venture I believe it was due to overconfidence that I made some bad choices. Fortunately my course correction hasn't been drastic, and I've been able to restore my gains. I'll know better next time that I'm not bulletproof to too many bad choices. :)
    2001 days ago
    It took me quite a while to reach my goal and now I find myself setting new goals so that I can loose a few more lbs just to be able to end up putting them back on. Maintaining is scarey. You're constantly watching everything you eat because you don't want to put that weight back on. It's something that will have to be done forever. I'm ok with it, just wish the guilt of eating something I shouldn't eat once in a while would go away. Keep going. You will reach your goal.
    2001 days ago
    "At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end". I adore this statement, along with the picture of the beautiful curvy woman giving herself some love.

    What a wonderful blog and what a beautifully lyrical writer you are. Through your inspriational words you force us to examine ourselves and our motives. You give us answers to the most illusive questions. Between your philosphoical nature, intelligence, compassion and sincerity you have a God-given talent and I feel fortunate to have met you on here. emoticon emoticon
    2001 days ago
    After I started SP, it took about 6 weeks of doing everything just right before the weight started to come off. I've read that's not uncommon. I tracked my food and exercise and always stayed within the correct calorie range & the nutrient breakdowns. I did power walking for 60 minutes every day, plus a strength training routine 4 or 5 times per week. Once the weight started coming off, I spent the next year or little more, losing consistently. I'm finding maintenance harder to do. I gained back 25 lbs of the 75 I lost; and I've lost half of that 25 again. I don't workout a lot now, like I did through the main weight loss. That's the difference for me, and why it's a little more challenging. Through the whole program I allowed myself one day per week to go over my limits and have some treats (but not to pig out and undo all that I had done the rest of the week), and a couple days off from exercise every week. All through my weight loss though, I was just wanting the real me back. I spent most of my life under weight, and I had health issues from it as well. I was just so happy when I got to look in the mirror and see my own face again after about ten years of being overweight. I hope that helps someone.
    2001 days ago
  • CHRIS3874
    I feel much the SAME WAY you do I think. Its frustrating watching someone else shovel crap into their face and STAY skinny and yet NO MATTER what you do the pounds seem to STUBBORNLY stay put. Its east to fall into the trap of despair and think that it isn't worth it (especially when we have our SLIPS). I am in it for the long run. I am not willing to GIVE UP until that FIRST shovelful of dirt hits my face!!
    2001 days ago
    I am in this for the journey... to greater health, fitness and Faith!
    2001 days ago
    wow. you are an inspiration. thank you for the thoughtful post. i also checked out 1) oil pulling, 2) shannon (who departed in 2010), and 3) your progress photos. you put a lot of heart into this journey. thank you for sharing it with us all.

    ps. i'm going to try oil pulling ;)
    2001 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/28/2012 3:54:33 PM
    Nice blog, Ramona....thought provoking stuff! I think Coach Dean's words are interesting...perhaps true for many. I don't think for me the simple calories in/calories out thing works, though. What I do like about what Coach Dean said is the idea that we should find a sort of "health idol" or something of that nature--one we can look to for ideas about how to take care of ourselves and use for inspiration. I do think it's much healthier (and happier) if we can make lifestyle changes that are sustainable and that we actually enjoy! What that means will be different for all of us, of course. But that seems most important in terms of maintenance. emoticon
    2001 days ago
    that is why i call my goal a life style change . not a diet . this is a plan that you do for the rest of your life . no matter how much you weigh. what the scales says is not what i am aiming for . better body . more energy ..better life my goals . honey you will have to watch your weigh forever . it will never change . if you gain a few pounds then you work to take it off . Constance watching and eating right .not i am at the weight i want to be now i can eat what i want to eat .No sir . you have to do it for life . never give up . work at it . it is a thing you can do . emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2001 days ago
  • NH_MOM
    I found maintaining very hard. You no longer have a goal to work toward, it's a forever thing. I did it for two years and was finally feeling like it wouldn't be so bad, not so much of a chore, when I got pregnant. Now I'm back to trying to lose that last 10-15 lbs. If I don't, it's not like I'm so overweight I can't do anything, just enough so that playing w/my kids is harder and doing exercise is a little harder. My baby is not quite 5 months old so I figure I put it on in 9 months I have 9 months to take it off. If not, then like you said I'll just choose to maintain at this weight.
    2001 days ago
    Great blog, you have a way with words. I agree, so many do things or exercise so much to lose and then say whew... thats done. now what. I have been here 6 years and mostly have made great friends. I have dne better this past year than before. I feel better, my clothes are looser and some days depending on my arhtritis and nerve problems in hip and leg can move better.
    But have 40 lbs to lose and am going to. perhaps not that much perhaps a tad moe but whatever my body feels great at is good for me. YEs I get tciked at the scale but I also realize that my pants fitting looser feels better than seeing the number. I have to get a real strength training regime underway.
    So off I go to find something for breakfast. and we need groceries! LOL

    2001 days ago
    Excellent blog and some calorie free food for thought! What I wouldn't give to be anywhere near my goal weight after 4 years on this stupid merry go round. 200 lbs lost seems like a lame accomplishment when you hit it 7 months ago and still have 125-140 to go. *groan*
    2001 days ago
    I agree with most of what you said
    2001 days ago
    Coach Dean's words really resonate for me and I've been thinking a lot about this type of idea over the past year or so.
    On the other hand... I also read that having a lot of belly fat (which I do) and being overweight really increases one's health risks. Like for diabetes. When I think about how both my siblings and my parents have diabetes type 2, I do feel an urge to 'get rid of this weight - FAST'. It could take me years (and years?) to take off the excess weight (about 20 kg in my case as it is now). All that time the visceral fat will be sitting there, messing up my hormones, producing cytokines and I don't know what other stuff that I don't want in my body, and increasing my risks for ugly diseases.... (See for example the book 'Wheat Belly').
    So I go back and forth - feeling torn, unable to make up my mind - between what Coach Dean says and wanting to FIRST be rid of the overweight and THEN learn the good habits...
    2001 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/28/2012 6:06:32 AM
    A thought provoking blog Ramona
    emoticon for sharing
    2002 days ago
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