Just about a year ago I wrote a blog post about a list of successful maintainers we’ve been compiling in the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team.
One of our team leaders, TINAJANE76, suggested that I do a new blog post about this list, as a reminder to all of us that not only can maintenance be accomplished, but that we’ve got a list of people doing it, right here on Sparkpeople.com. Last year there were 71 people on the list. Now there are nearly twice that number!
It all started in an attempt to celebrate maintenance anniversaries. According to the scientific literature, the rates of regain follow a pattern like other forms of rehabilitation such as addiction treatment. In such cases, the length of time someone has already “stayed clean” is one of the best predictors of them being able to make the change stick in the future. The same is true in maintaining a weight loss:
- 80% - 95% of people who reach goal weight regain.
- After 2 years of maintenance the frequency of regain drops to 50%.
- After 5 years the frequency of regain drops to 27%!
(see this paper, for example: clinical.diabetesjournal
So the point was to keep us focused on those anniversaries - looking ahead to the next one, and then the one after that. Because figuring out maintenance can be challenging. And contemplating doing all this work FOREVER, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE, can be overwhelming.
It’s much more manageable to think about doing it for a week, or another month. Or just another year. And in the process of making it work in these smaller steps, you start to implement the mental shifts and accept the lifestyle changes over longer time periods. And slowly, almost without even realizing it, you reprogram your habits, and over time it actually becomes less of a struggle. It’s the same principle as a Spark streak, but on a scale of years.
In the process of collecting dates to celebrate those anniversaries we ended up with a list that can be sorted in terms of how long people have maintained. You can see it here:
Years Spark ID
This list is tremendously helpful - it’s a way we can find members of the Sparkpeople.com community who are living proof that maintenance is achievable. People who can inspire us, and serve as role models.
These people may be a minority here on the site, but they have a huge amount to offer, because they have mastered the one thing all weight losers aspire to - KEEPING the weight off. They have life throwing them curve balls too. And they have setbacks. And they overcome them.
I think if we can figure out how to stay engaged and focused and learn from these people, we can beat those depressing published odds.
85 people on the list (65%) have maintained less than two years.
In the outside world, only 42 of them would manage to keep the weight off. But I think we can beat those statistics, here, with the support of each other.
There are people from a wide spectrum of weight loss. From those who have shed 200 pounds, to others keeping off less than 10. People who just reached goal, and people who have kept the weight off for over 40 years!
(hover your mouse over a dot to see more information)
I just love watching those blue dots march off to the right, one day at a time...
There are other tabs at the bottom of the screen to explore - some of us have been curious about our other stats as a group, such as waist to height ratio, for example. So we have a way for people to enter optional data about their current size and shape, for anonymous graphs.
Group BMI distribution
Group waist to height ratios
Group waist to hip ratios
Group BMI vs % Body Fat
In order to ensure the data are current, we ask everyone to update their information once a year. Sadly, there are a few folks who have stopped checking in:
Every month we email people whose entries are coming up for renewal and those whose have expired, and ask them to re-enter their data. This is an important step with maintenance, too. Because regain does happen, and we want to catch people and help them turn around the trend before it spirals out of control.
A very common response to regain is to feel shame and retreat from the community. This is the worst thing you can do, however, because you’re hiding from your friends and support network just when you need their help the most! Many who have regained according to their own definition are surprised and happy to learn that they are still successfully maintaining according to a scientific definition, “kept at least 10% of the starting weight off.” And sometimes that one piece of validation is all it takes for them to recover their confidence and pull things back together.
If you are maintaining and would like to celebrate YOUR anniversary with us, sign up here!
I also encourage you to join our vibrant team of maintainers and people preparing for maintenance:
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).