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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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