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Losing

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weight loss" just isn't a good concept for people who want to stop yo-yo dieting and sustain a healthy weight because . . . weight loss is all about "loss". Yeah. Duh!

If I had it to do all over again -- losing 90 pounds that is (and I'm determined NEVER to have it do all over again) -- I'm thinking now it would be better to start by looking in the mirror and asking myself, "How many of these pounds do I want to maintain?"

And (related question) how many calories can I eat to maintain just those pounds I want to maintain? When I weighed 230 pounds, I'm pretty sure I was eating 2,300 calories a day: 10 calories a pound. And more, because my weight was still going up. That 100 extra calories a day was resulting in an additional 10 pounds a year. That's all it took.

Now that I weigh in the 140 range, I know I can eat about 1400 calories a day: the magic number is still 10 calories a pound. So "maintaining" myself down to 140 pounds really meant eating within my maintenance range of 1,400 calories a day. From the start. Then keeping it up. Maintaining it.

So: (related question), from the start I also needed to be asking myself, "How can I rearrange those pounds for optimum strength and fitness?" That's the exercise bit. It doesn't seem to have much to do with weight loss, at least for me: more to do with cardio, strength training, flexibility, balance. And mood: optimism, determination, focus.

So: (further related question), it would have helped to ask myself, "What's the optimum nutrition plan to keep each one of those carefully selected pounds I'm gonna maintain as healthy as possible?" Because if I'm starting out with my maintenance range-for-life, each calorie I eat has to be nutritionally packed. Otherwise there won't be enough calories to deliver the complex carbs, protein, healthy fats, and all the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals etc.) that those selected-to-be-sustained pounds need. Every day.

Yeah. Like that.

The longer I'm in maintenance, the more I realize that thinking about "weight loss" is counter-productive. Because a focus on "weight loss" means thinking about LOSS. Lots of losses.

Giving up . . . random mindless eating whatever I want whenever I want.

Giving up . . . sitting around most of the time (except when not just sitting but fully horizontal).

Giving up . . . socializing with the kind of persons who eat all the time and sit around all the time.

No kidding, those extra pounds I didn't want to maintain constituted a highly contagious condition, judging by the general shape and size and fitness level of a lot of people I hung out with at 230! And with whom I justified chocolate croissants. Giant muffins. Elaborate coffee drinks with whipped cream, etc. While wearing size 18 elastic waist pants. And sitting around talking about (gloom) how unfair life is. Sometimes about how much discrimination we felt because of being overweight . . .

Gotta admit, I've lost most of those former friends with the pounds. Not my choice, either. Theirs. Their unwillingness to tolerate and accept my new priorities. Sure, the loss of some of those friends is something I do regret. Just not enough to expose myself to the infection again!

Focusing on loss, on what it's necessary to give up, is something deeply unattractive to human beings. Researchers in economics tell us we attach a huge surplus value to what we already have and do. That we feel entitled to hold onto what we already have and do. (You know the studies: for example, if you pay $5 for an ordinary coffee mug that you use every day, you tend to become attached to it and don't want to sell it for less than $10. It's "special". It's "mine": one of the first things two-year-olds learn to say!!) These feelings of resentment over loss of something "taken away" are much stronger than regret about not achieving something we don't have yet. (Such as health. Such as a more attractive body.)

So: all of this tells me it really doesn't help to focus on loss. Including weight loss. Thinking about weight loss triggers an initial enthusiasm and then creeping resurgence of entitlement. Rebellion. And then failure: which in this context means temporary weight loss, giving up and rapid regain. Never having achieved the feeling of health and fitness.

That's why we've gotta lose the "weight loss" concept. We've gotta think about gain, not loss. And that means we've gotta think about maintenance. Right from the beginning.

Not, "i'm on a weight loss program." Rather, "I'm on a weight maintenance program". Meaning, privately, "I'm eating just enough to maintain those pounds I intend to keep!!" (And sure, saying I was on a weight maintenance program would have resulted in some raised eyebrows when I was 230!! I'd have enjoyed that, actually.)

Not, "I'm on an exercise program to lose weight." Rather, "I'm on an exercise program to gain health. To gain energy. To gain strength, flexibility and balance. And to have more fun!! With new friends who share those values with me!"

Enough of responding to the nosy questions anyhow. How about just leaving it at that last part. "I'm having more fun!"

There is nothing lost that's worth grieving over at all. Not at all.

Because we do have more fun when we're healthy. When we feel good. When we're eating what's good for us and hanging out with people who are good for us. Who are active, happy and optimistic. Way better than that $5 coffee mug, or the chocolate croissant!

It shouldn't be about weight loss. It's really about all there is so to gain. And to maintain. That slim strong active healthy body, having fun.

Once you have it, you feel so entitled to it. So committed to maintaining it. No matter what it takes.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LADYJ6942 11/18/2012 6:14PM

    I love the spin you put on all this. It is quite true. Thank you

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PATRICIAANN46 11/18/2012 5:16PM

  What a great message............. emoticon

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ALIDOSHA 11/18/2012 5:12PM

    emoticon

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EPATTEN79 11/18/2012 5:12PM

    Great blog. Such a great way to think about weight loss and health.

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MANDELOVICH 11/18/2012 4:27PM

    This is a great blog post. I just wrote about something similar today. When I focus on what I'm moving towards, what I can do, what I get to do, all the benefits, then this journey is positive and easy. Lately I was on the wrong track and was focusing on negatives (stop binging, stop gaining) and I got tripped up. I'm back to all the things I can get to do!

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PHOENIX1949 11/18/2012 3:49PM

    Love the positive spin on what we are doing for our health.

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WALLINMW 11/18/2012 3:44PM

  stay motivated!

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WALLINMW 11/18/2012 3:44PM

  stay motivated!

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GALINAZ 11/18/2012 3:03PM

    Fantastic blog, I am making it my favorite ever! MAINTAIN THE POUNDS I WANT TO KEEP,,thank you!!

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NEWCHINELO 11/18/2012 2:59PM

    Great blog!

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TRYINGHARD54 11/18/2012 2:51PM

    great blog ! emoticon

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FIT4MEIN2013 11/18/2012 2:06PM

    emoticon

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OFGREENGABLES 11/18/2012 1:49PM

    so true about the friends! thank you for the reminder

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BLUE42DOWN 11/18/2012 1:25PM

    emoticon perspective! This actually expresses one of the things I did right off the bat - focusing on fitness goals and eating the way I want to eat that provides me enough healthy nutrition and enough enjoyable treats without feeling stuffed. Amazing what a difference it has made along the way.

Even if you didn't start off with that viewpoint, reaching it now definitely will help in the maintenance game.

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MARTHAWILL 11/18/2012 1:01PM

    Fantastic blog! Thanks! One of the things I love about Spark People is that there is always someone who comes up with a new perspective which makes sense.

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FAVORITEAUNT84 11/18/2012 12:35PM

    Good for you for recognizing it! emoticon

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NITTINNANA 11/18/2012 11:38AM

    emoticon
Talk about God sending something my way ONLY when I'm ready to receive it!! Your blog was interesting, but when I got to the part "surges of entitlement..rebellion..failure..R>Boy did that hit me hard!

I than you for calling a spade a spade. After a truly rebellious day, you've helped me nip that in the bud, BEFORE it got to the failure part.

Again, emoticon

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HOLLYM48 11/18/2012 11:09AM

    Truer words were never spoken! Thanks for such a great read! Congrats on your maintaining plan! All the best to you. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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NANABNANA11 11/18/2012 11:07AM

    Wow, great blog! While this is somewhat how I have been trying to travel my journey to a healthier diet (this is what I call what I am doing...not a weight loss plan) you have made far more sense out of it then I was able to. I love your thought process and am going to work on incorporating these ideas into my plan....thank you!

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NEWMOM20121 11/18/2012 11:00AM

    GREAT blog. Well said.

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MOMMY445 11/18/2012 10:11AM

    such a great blog! thanks for sharing!

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TANYA602 11/18/2012 10:08AM

    Maintenance is still around the corner for me, but your blog is helping me think about all that I've learned about myself and being healthy since joining SP. Thank you for helping to put things in perspective! Congratulations on your gains (and losses)!

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SNOOPYLINKOS 11/18/2012 9:51AM

    I have often thought why not cut to the chase and use the baseline calories from the get go. I was always afraid to say it out loud for fear people would think I'm goofy. Thanks for saying it out loud! You made my day! Keep up the great maintaining! emoticon

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MIMIDOT 11/18/2012 9:44AM

    Thanks for giving us all another way of thinking. You're so right! I enjoyed your blog. Thanks for sharing.

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PENOWOK 11/18/2012 9:32AM

    I am sad for those friends who refused to try to understand your desire to have health! You are clearly working on good things for your body and deserve to be encouraged. Their loss is our gain because of how inciteful you are and willingness to share these honest feelings. So, while I lose, I gain so much more: health, well-being and SP friends!

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ROUNDTOWNMOM 11/18/2012 9:29AM

    After all these years...........THIS one hits on something I hadn't even *considered* in my thought processes.................

I needed this today..............and every day.

Simply - thank you!

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JANEMARIE77 11/18/2012 9:10AM

    really great blog I'm printing it to keep and share thank you

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AUSFAM 11/18/2012 9:01AM

    Thank you for writing this--maintenance scares the crap out of me! This is calming.

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KARRENLYNN 11/18/2012 8:34AM

    I never thought about weight loss and maintenance like that. It was always about the losses. It gave me lots to think about. I'm going to try thinking about the gains from now on and see how much better I feel and how much easier getting my health back becomes.

Thanks for sharing and have a great Thanksgiving!

Karen emoticon emoticon

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SCOUTMOM715 11/18/2012 8:30AM

    WoW!!! What a fantastic blog! emoticon emoticon

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CYPATAYLOR2 11/18/2012 8:11AM

  Wonderful blog! You have such a great perspective! Thank you for sharing. emoticon emoticon

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NANCY- 11/18/2012 8:07AM

    Well said!
I love your priorities.
As for me I'm still developing a healthy sustainable lifestyle. For me it is not so much about loss as finding new comforts.
Reading your blog today reminded me of "potential"
emoticon

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HEARTS116 11/18/2012 7:58AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BECKYANNE1 11/18/2012 6:46AM

    I'm finding maintenance is much more of a challenge than actually losing weight. It's pretty much trial and error.

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BESSHAILE 11/18/2012 6:28AM

    Well put - and just what I needed to read. The idea of "loss" when I am this close to my goal weight is just not working. Yet - the idea of gain - as in the gaining of greater strength, mobility, stamina and balance is what keeps me enthusiastically moving ahead with my fitness routine.

I've had an idea that my food focus was wrong and you gave me a sharp idea of what it could be.

Thank you!!! emoticon

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CLAYARTIST 11/18/2012 6:12AM

  emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GRAMPIAN 11/18/2012 5:20AM

  Interesting thoughts.

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NCSUE0514 11/18/2012 4:26AM

    Losing weight is the easiest part. Maintenance has always been my struggle.

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TRYINGHARD1948 11/18/2012 1:15AM

    A very thoughtful and thought provoking blog.

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PHEBESS 11/18/2012 12:17AM

    As always, a thought-provoking blog! And a lot for me to think about.

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_LINDA 11/17/2012 11:51PM

    Way to put a better perspective on this whole concept! A glass half full. A postive note. Kick those negatives to the curb and focus on all the gains! I love it!!
Well said!!

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CARRAND 11/17/2012 9:40PM

    Excellent blog, and so true! I have gained so much by losing weight and getting healthy. I enjoy my weight lifting, yoga and spin classes, but I really enjoy being able to do the things i couldn't even think of doing when I weighed 225 pounds. I was very active this election season, canvassing and doing voter registration drives. I walked the neighborhood for 6 hours on election day getting out the vote. There is no way i could have walked for 6 hours at a time 3 years ago! You are a real inspiration to me as I strive to maintain my healthy weight. Words do matter.

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DALID414 11/17/2012 7:20PM

    Cheers to gaining!!

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SLENDERELLA61 11/17/2012 7:20PM

    WOW!! This is one great blog! You are just so right, but I never say it that way. How much do I eat to maintain just the pounds I want? And what do I eat to fuel those remaining pounds in the best way? What great questions and great way of thinking about eating and maintaining. Thanks, Ellen.

And by the way, I am having an awesome time with my wonderful healthy, active friend, Barb. We are gonna go for it!! Thanks for all your support on my first half!!

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DONNACFIT 11/17/2012 6:57PM

    Great blog!! Thanks for the inspiration!!

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MOBYCARP 11/17/2012 4:30PM

    Good blog. A year into maintenance, I still wrestle with an emotional bias toward weight down good, weight up bad. Even when I intellectually know I'm trying to maintain in a range, moving up in the range feels worse than moving down in the range.

Maybe in two more years it won't be that way, but that's where my emotions are now. It helps to read about different ways of looking at things. Doesn't change the emotions, but makes them easier to deal with.

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NEWMREY 11/17/2012 2:42PM

    Thank you for this helpful blog! It's just what I needed to read as I'm getting my own maintenance plan together!

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SUSANNAH31 11/17/2012 1:28PM

    Great blog! I couldn't agree more!
The ideas you present are very similar to what I am trying to do with my new fresh start.
In fact, after reading this, I went and changed some wording on my new page to eliminate "weight loss" altogether.

Thanks to your inspiration, I have written:
"I am using good nutrition and exercise to maintain my good health and to maintain an optimal weight.
My goal is to make changes that will become a permanent part of my life."

I have even changed the wording of my short-term goal from "weight loss goal" "scale goal."

Thanks for an inspirational blog!

emoticon


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BOOKAPHILE 11/17/2012 12:41PM

    Yes! This is the mindset I want to cultivate. Maintenance from the beginning! Thank you, Ellen.

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CRYSTALJEM 11/17/2012 12:38PM

    Lots to chew on here. Very interesting. I agree, thinking in loss terms isn't beneficial in the long run. It also makes me think in losing terms, like what other losses will come with the new me (friends?) the fear of what else will happen after the change can be daunting.

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