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TINAJANE76
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What's Achievable Isn't Always Sustainable

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Friday, November 09, 2012

As I'm sure many people can relate, the holidays have always been a particularly challenging time for me in terms of weight management. Part of my vicious circle of yo-yo dieting has typically sprung from the weight I began to pile on during the holidays, which I often continued to let spiral out of control once January rolled around. Last year, for the first time in my life, I finally felt in control during the holidays. I went in with the realistic expectation that I would gain a few pounds, but I had a plan both for how to navigate my splurges and for getting back on track. Although I did gain those few pounds that I had anticipated, my strategy worked and I actually had a net loss from the beginning of December to the end of January.

This year, I plan to use a similar strategy to help me get through the holidays without a massive weight gain. I've also added a preemptive dimension to my plan that I've been working on for the past month that has involved getting down to the lower end of my maintenance range to give me a bit more of a cushion. One of the novel ideas that I've been introduced to through my involvement on the 'At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance' team ( www.sparkpeople.com/mysp
ark/groups_individual.asp?
gid=1111
) has been the concept of a goal range rather than one specific number. Back when I did Weight Watchers, your goal range essentially amounted to two pounds, which I always felt was a bit unrealistic for a person who's struggled so mightily with their weight. Hormonal factors alone can contribute to fluctuations of more than two pounds in a given week for me and I think it's unfair to be punished for something that's really out of your control. Knowing that, the last time I was on Weight Watchers, I set my goal a few pounds higher than what I really wanted it to be, so I could have a bit more wiggle room. Instead of playing those kind of games, I've come to realize that a goal range that allows for a 3% fluctuation is a much more realistic solution that not only covers just about any temporary blip I might see on the scale, but has also taken a lot of the anxiety out of my weight management. Just knowing that I don't have to be so rigid in my efforts has made me feel so much more relaxed about the whole process and has, perhaps subconsciously, turned my focus towards sustaining my healthy habits rather than obsessing about not deviating more than a pound or two.

Living in my goal range has also taught me another very valuable lesson: what's achievable isn't always sustainable. In my first few months of maintenance, I really didn't know what my permanent goal was going to be. I officially started maintenance once I got my BMI down to 25 and my plan was to gradually start increasing my calories until my weight leveled off. A combination of doing that plus a fitness bootcamp I did before my summer vacation brought me to what I considered the low end of my maintenance range, which was 12 pounds below my initial goal of having a healthy BMI.

There were a few different things that made me realize that was as low as I wanted to go. The first were the physical changes that I saw. I was starting to lose what I consider the "good meat" on my body--my cheeks were starting to draw in and my womanly bits were getting noticeably smaller. I was on my way to going from shapely to stickly and that had never been my goal. In fact, one day when my husband was hugging me, he called me "rib-cage girl" because he could feel my bones so distinctly. I knew these were all indications that I needed to tap the brakes and, interestingly, it only took a gain of about two pounds to undo them and get my healthy curves back.

The second factor was the sustainability one. One of the joys of maintenance for me is knowing that I can loosen the reigns a bit, even if it's just really a bit! As I got to the lower end of my range, I noticed that I wasn't able to eat as many calories without seeing slight gains and that, basically, if I wanted to maintain, I'd have to keep my them pretty close to my weight-loss levels. Although I had worked hard to develop a weight loss plan that wasn't overly restrictive, the idea of not being able to eat a measly 200-300 extra calories a day in maintenance was not appealing to me and certainly wasn't going to pave the way for long-term success.

And out of all this came my maintenance range: 150 +/- 3%. This basically means that the lower end of my range is about 146 and the upper end is 154. Although I admit I do psychologically like being under 150, I know jumping above that number is not necessarily cause for alarm. And although I know that I can get down to the lower end of my range, and perhaps even lower if I really tried, I know that's not a place where I'll stay satisfied or successful for long. I've found what I can achieve, now I'm going for what I can sustain.



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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • v MANDELOVICH
    Love this blog! It's exactly what I was talking about with you today in my email and exactly how I'm feeling about my weight. I guess my range is about 127-132 and I've been living there for years! Huh! I've been at goal and didn't even know it, and just fought against it forever. Because though 120 or less is achievable, it sure isn't maintainable. At least not in the way I want to live!
    1165 days ago
  • v CM_GARDNER78
    LOVE the idea of 3%!!! That is awesome - I have a similar experience with another group that helps take weight off - and the fact that you have to keep within the guidelines of you are ready to lose your status of achievement. OVER A COUPLE OF POUNDS?! I understand the need for a number to know that you're headed in the wrong direction, but please..........

    ANYWAY - I love what you have done here. Also about the holidays - this spoke to me very loud and clear, and I appreciate you sharing what worked for you. I believe I will apply this to my own life over the holidays (a source of stress for me too!) Thank you, thank you for your blog!! I love it!!! (((HUGS)))
    1313 days ago
  • v JAIMESIZED
    I love this blog! It will definitely keep me cautious about letting me slip into that "What's done is done" stage :)
    1315 days ago
  • v EFFRAYECHILDE
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    1315 days ago
  • v MTPOETNH
    I do like your idea of a 3% range for a goal weight - it does seem a lot more sustainable than a static number . Thanks for sharing !!
    1319 days ago
  • v KIMBOLEAN
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    1320 days ago
  • v MANILUS
    Words of wisdom, thank you! Best of luck on attaining that stability for a very long time!
    1321 days ago
  • v MIZINA730
    You are really balanced and sensible in your thinking. I think I read one of your blogs sent to me in an e-mail about maintaining and I banked the information for when I get to that point.
    1321 days ago
  • v ISHIIGIRL
    Yes, this is exactly how I maintain. WW 2 lbs is not sustainable but givnig myself a 5 lbs + or - range is more sustainable andI definately feel more comfortable there. Great blog!
    1321 days ago
  • v ILIKETOZUMBA
    Fantastic blog. I love your holiday strategy, and I loved the discussion about achievability vs. sustainability. I've done the same thing you did - I hit my goal, started very gradually increasing my calories, but I was doing so much exercise that I went WAY below my goal and even though I wasn't "underweight" for my height, I ended up with 11% body fat before I realized what was going on - super unhealthy for a woman! I'm still trying to dig myself out of that pit and put more fat back on. Like you did, I lost my womanly shape (though I still have tons of loose belly skin that looks like a potbelly) and my husband once told me that when we were, well, being husband and wife, that he was afraid he was going to break me because I looked so small and bony. I've even gone without my period since February! Healthy weight loss can be a difficult balance to strike, can't it? I'm glad you've gotten yourself back into a healthy and comfortable range. I know what you mean about the psychological impact of a number on the scale - I am very much afraid of weighing over 130 pounds again, even though I really OUGHT to. Anyways, I didn't mean to ramble on about me, but this blog was really good for me to read. Thank you for sharing!
    1321 days ago
  • v SHAZG321
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    1322 days ago
  • v MAGGIEROSEBOWL
    Love your outlook. I'm struggling right now, after hitting a goal weight (I had pre-set it for myself) in April of 2011. I kept losing after that, eventually getting 20 pounds below the goal weight and 5 pounds below where a healthy BMI started. I was STILL in the healthy BMI range. Believe me I will never see the bottom of that range! Then over Thanksgiving and Christmas last year I started a slow ascent up the scale. I hated it, but once again seemed incapable of halting it. Then last week, I got a call that I had been selected to be on the Today Show's Joy Fit Club. Talk about motivation! I put the kibbosh on all the excessive snacking I had been doing and my weight is slowly returning to that 150 range where I feel happier. Sure 140's ARE nicer, but anything below 160 was my goal, and if I could just stay 10 lbs. below that I would be thrilled!
    1323 days ago
  • v NIKIBOBIKI
    Great post!
    So true and got me thinking / relaxing a bit as we approach the holidays :)
    1323 days ago
  • v 2TIGRE
    What a great post!!! Now that I'm only 12lbs from my goal, maintenance is something I've been thinking a lot about and how I go about finding my own "range" and making it sure it's a healthy range.

    LOL at your hubby's comment. My own sweet hubby has just started teasing me (very affectionately though) about my "boney" butt. Not sure I'm crazy about the loss of my curvy tush either.
    1323 days ago
  • v MEMEQ2
    I have been trying to maintain my weight loss through the winter by giving my self a range of about 5 lbs which is 4% for me. If I ever go above that this winter I will be disappointed. Like you, I always struggle with the holidays. I am getting more disciplined at getting back on track if I have a couple days where I fall off. Thank you for sharing, it is so nice to know we are not alone in our struggles. emoticon
    1323 days ago
  • v KAPELAKIN
    Great blog! Finding the right maintenance weight is not easy or simple. Sounds like youre all ready to get through the holidays successfully!
    1323 days ago
  • v LOISDESK
    Great blog! I think I am right at the place you are describing. I'm at the point of discovering what my range will be. I still have areas that I want to lose more fat and build muscle, but overall, I think my weight range is becoming apparent. I agree that having a range is more realistic and allowing that flexibility over the Holidays is very freeing.
    Thanks for sharing your experience!
    1323 days ago
  • v MAXXIZ20
    Your title really caught my eye. Fantastic blog & it all makes sense. Great plan & reasonable. So many times we set unrealistic goals for ourselves. It is has taken me a total of 4 yrs to lose 68 lbs (45 of that just this year). We definitely have to take it slow to maintain & cut ourselves a break with your 3% range that should help. Thanks so much for sharing! Very inspiring & you look great! emoticon
    1323 days ago
  • v PACKERMANN
    another great blog! thanks for putting into words what i've been pondering for awhile. i like the 3% idea!
    1323 days ago
  • v LINDAK25
    I have a ways to go before maintenance, but I've thought about it. A lot. You've really put my mind at ease. I was wondering how I would know whether I was at the weight I wanted. Now I have a clear picture. Thanks.

    Congratulations to you, not only on your weight loss, but on your healthy attitude!
    1323 days ago
  • v BANDMOM2012
    Great blog!
    1323 days ago
  • v RICHILA
    This makes so much sense! Thank you!
    1323 days ago
  • v DEBBYNATION
    I'm just in my healthy BMI so your blog is very helpful to me! Thx! :)
    1323 days ago
  • v 1954MARG
    Thanks for sharing the benefits of your experiences. The photo shows that you are in a healthy weight range that suits you.
    1323 days ago
  • v FATBASTICH
    goal range is a great concept, thanks for sharing this blog.
    1323 days ago
  • v KAYATLANTA2010
    Great blog! Thank you for sharing this part of your journey!
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    1323 days ago
  • v SUNNYLIFE72
    Great post! I love the idea of a healthy weight range. My walking buddy and I were recently talking about recognizing when you are out of range and when to take action to avoid a downward spiral.
    1323 days ago
  • v TERRIJ7
    I like what you have to say in this blog and agree that a target range is more realistic that a specific weight.
    1324 days ago
  • v NEWTINK
    Wonderful blog
    1325 days ago
  • v MRSKATEDUVALL
    I found your blog looking for holiday plans! cheers to reaching your goal wieght, and the self knowledge that came with it.
    1325 days ago
  • v FAVORITEAUNT84
    I love the idea of a 'goal range' of 3%. I think it would lower the chances of me beating myself up when I'm having a bad week/month.
    1325 days ago
  • v IAMAGEMLOVER
    emoticon for sharing. emoticon
    1325 days ago
  • v CICELY360
    good blog
    1325 days ago
  • v BLUEJEAN99
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    1325 days ago
  • v MARYJEANSL
    Good for you! It is always so impressive when someone has a real knowledge of her/his own body and a do-able plan for maintenance. Congrats - and enjoy the holidays!
    1326 days ago
  • v ROCKYCPA
    Keep up the good work - you can make it through the holidays!
    1326 days ago
  • v VOLLEYGIRL77
    The holidays are always so tough!
    1326 days ago
  • v PEGGYO
    thanks for sharing
    1326 days ago
  • v PATRICIAANN46
    You are so wise to do what is best for YOU!!! That should be what all of us aim for.......a lifestyle change that we can comfortably live with. This should only lead to success. emoticon
    1326 days ago
  • v JAMER123
    Great going!! I am sure you are going to be able to sustain your goals. You and others on this site, have learned and practiced the healthy way of life. Once we learn, we know the do's and don'ts.
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    1326 days ago
  • v GOOSIEMOON
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    1326 days ago
  • v NEWMREY
    emoticon Thank you for another great blog! You always give me more to think about as I work to put together a maintenance plan!
    1326 days ago
  • v ONLYTEMPORARY
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    1326 days ago
  • v SERASARA
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    1326 days ago
  • v ALIDOSHA
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    1326 days ago
  • v PCASEY7
    Thanks Tina for another great, insightful blog. I can relate to the stickly comment and think a few more lbs would fill me out. Love the idea of the range and it's something I'm gravitating toward with some wiggle room built in. It certainly takes the pressure off gaining a few lbs over a weekend away or holiday as I know I'll get back down to my desired weight range when I return home & refocus. Enjoy the holidays!
    1326 days ago
  • v CHARTHESTAR
    I like the 3% thought. Right now I am still in the journey to my goal but after I get there I think having a range to stay within is a great idea.
    Great insights too!
    Congratulations on your success and for figuring out that 'normal for the average person' does not translate specifically to you. Each of us has to find the best range for ourselves and it sounds like you found yours. Good Job!
    1326 days ago
  • v HEARTS116
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    1326 days ago
  • v KARRENLYNN
    It's interesting what you learn as you near and achieve your goals. Learning how to maintain and be happy is a great thing, good job!

    Have a great holiday,


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    1326 days ago
  • v GRAMPIAN
    Very sensible. emoticon
    1326 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.