Thursday, November 29, 2012
This is a question I recently put out to the members of the 'At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance' team. What I was hoping to find in response to this question was if other successful maintainers had a particular moment where all of the pieces of their healthy lifestyle came together and the process just started to feel natural and intuitive or if it was something that evolved gradually over time.
Not surprisingly, the responses were quite varied. For some, the key to their long-term success has involved following a certain plan or philosophy, for others it means tracking, for others it means a continual process of goal setting and for still others it meant coming to terms with the idea that long-term maintenance means having the strength and will to permanently keep up the work they did while they were losing. But even though the responses were very different, they did seem to have one thing in common: each person seems to have developed a keen sense of self awareness that's allowed them to pinpoint and execute exactly what they need to do to stay successful in the long term.
If I think about my own weight loss and maintenance journey, I'd have to say the same thing is true for me. I don't know that I've had one specific "Aha!" Moment but I have had a gradual progression and continual process of learning that's involved fine-tuning the strategies that have worked for me and discarding the ones that don't. Rather than looking to copy the strategies of someone whose weight-loss strategy I admired, I focused on doing what made and would keep me successful, taking into account my own personal strengths and weaknesses.
I suppose the development of that type of self awareness is one of the most important things we can strive for on this journey because it's what will allow us to develop a plan that works best according to our preferences and lifestyles and ensure that it's one that we can sustain forever. Although I find it immensely useful and thought provoking to exchange ideas with other maintainers and to experiment with my plan, I understand that, ultimately, I am the one who needs to be able to live with the changes and choices I make.
What's more, I've learned that if one of those choices involves something that leads to an unhealthy deprivation/binge pattern, totally exhausts me or generally makes me miserable or resentful, then it's not something that I can keep as part of my plan. I've learned that although living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining my weight loss involves sacrifice, I don't need to follow a meal or exercise plan that I loathe and I don't need to avoid all of the food I love all the time in order to be successful. I've learned to truly moderate my habits, how to keep myself accountable and how to gently but effectively self correct when I start to slip.
If I really think about it, I guess I could say that my real "Aha!" Moment isn't as connected to my ability to be successful as it is to the faith I have in myself. Because of my past history of yo-yo dieting, I've had lots of residual doubt that I could really maintain my losses this time around--nearly 30 years of ups and downs sure can take a toll on your sense of self assurance! But nearly nine months of maintenance has proven to me that I do not have to resign myself to this pattern anymore and that I am capable of breaking the cycle of wild weight swings. For the first time in my life, I've really analyzed my past successes and failures and have really addressed all of the different aspects of weight management rather than ignoring the ones that were too uncomfortable or unpleasant for me to tackle. And the development of that self awareness and faith in myself is what I think has made the biggest difference.