Today I'm exactly one month away from my first anniversary as a successful maintainer. Although I won't be reaching one of the coveted maintenance milestones just yet (two years when your likelihood of regain drops to 50% and five years when it drops to 27%, according to the National Weight Control Registry), this is a huge accomplishment for me and represents by far the longest period of time I've ever maintained my losses.
When I started my journey back in 2010 at 240 pounds (that's me on the right, below), I had nearly given up hope that I could actually lose and keep off the weight:
I had lost 115 pounds in 2002 and 2003 and subsequently regained nearly all of it. In fact, until now, that had been the story of my life--a perpetual roller coaster of enormous ups and downs.
As proud as I am of losing the weight, that pales in comparison to how I proud I feel to have maintained for what I consider to be so long. And I know I'm not alone. I've seen several recent blogs written by other Sparkers approaching their one-year maintenance anniversaries who are also finally enjoying lasting success after many failed attempts. I see how our numbers are growing on the 'At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance' team and how so many of our members have remained committed to their goals and to staying active here. Although I don't have the hard data to prove it, I'd say we're making a dent in those daunting regain statistics and proving that maintenance, while hard, is achievable.
As I've often lamented, resources for maintainers are scant and there seems to be a reluctance on the part of the diet industry to provide maintenance support. "Maintenance lacks the luster of weight loss," "maintenance isn't the money maker that weight loss is" and (my personal unfavorite) "maintenance is hard and telling people that it's hard is discouraging (therefore, we choose to provide no support and information about how successful maintenance can be achieved)" are just a few of the reasons I've heard tossed around to justify this huge gap.
Thankfully, what we do have here on SparkPeople is a true grassroots movement of people who are dedicated to making maintenance a permanent state and who, without thought of financial compensation or the lack of glamor inherent in maintenance, generously give their time, share their knowledge and offer support to others who are working to sustain their healthy lifestyles. I think we owe a huge debt of gratitude to SparkPeople for providing a space where we've been able to create and shape such a wonderful network of support, sharing and encouragement. Without it, I probably would have been back to square one again instead of giddily looking forward to my one-year maintenance anniversary.
So, thank you, SparkPeople, for helping me achieve what I never thought was possible. If you're a longer term maintainer and have paved the way before me, thank you too. Your trailblazing efforts have definitely made my maintenance journey much easier. If you're coming up behind me, please know that successful weight loss and maintenance ARE possible and that you've come to the right place. I'm living that possibility as are many, many others here.