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What It Takes To Maintain: Thanks For Asking, STARDUSTD!

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

STARDUSTD has left an intriguing comment and inquiry on my SparkPage, riffing on a quotation from Steve Siebold of fatloser.com fame (and if you haven't tried fatloser, it's free and it's pretty motivational!):

Steve Siebold: "What would I have to believe to succeed at this at the level I desire? If you don't know, ask people who are consciously competent of why they are successful in what you want to succeed at."

What are your beliefs regarding maintenance and your ability to successfully maintain?

STARDUSTD is asking me, and I'm so flattered that she is! Here's my answer:

I believe that maintenance is never going to get easier. The weight loss part was the easy part.

I believe that I have to accept that it will be a struggle every day to keep my calories within my maintenance range: which is approximately 10 calories a day for every pound I'm willing to hold onto. That's all.

I believe that I will need to track nutrition and exercise daily for so long as I want to maintain: which means essentially for the rest of my life.

I believe that given how low the number is for my maintenance calories range (about 1400 to 1500 calories a day) I can't afford to waste many calories on empty nutrition if I want to stay healthy. I've gotta get the best possible nutritional bang for my calorie buck . . . and supplement with multivitamins too.

I believe that exercise (cardio, weight lifting, balance, stretching) is essential for heart health and strength and all-round physical and mental and emotional fitness. Besides, when I'm exercising I'm not eating!!

However, I don't believe that exercise helps me much with maintaining weight loss.

I don't believe that I will ever be able to exercise enough to eat whatever I want.

I believe that I will have to tolerate some hunger. Pretty much every day. And when I 'm hungry, wait till it's time to eat again.. Hunger is not an emergency: it's a signal that I'm really going to enjoy my next meal.

I believe that I also have to tolerate some emotional turbulence related to feelings of deprivation and unfairness (How come those other people can eat whatever they want?) I've gotta accept it: this is my metabolism to manage. And accept it even if I don't like it. Oh well. (Lots and lots of people have to manage much more difficult conditions than a lousy metabolism. So I'm not permitting myself to wallow in too much self pity either.)

I believe that keeping weight off is an essential strategy in doing all I can to prevent a recurrence of my estrogen-positive cancer. That's my main motivation.

However, I also believe that indulging in a little vanity and frugalista fashion is very helpful in keeping my more serious and long range health-focused motivation strong and steady. Don't care if its trivial and superficial to enjoy my bright blue leather boots. I've gotta have some fun!

I believe that food for me is fuel. Not entertainment. Not distraction from boredom. Not a means of celebrating. Not consolation for grief or frustration. Not the focus of socializing. Fuel. Good food tastes good, sure it does. Maybe not as good as potato chips some days. But there are many non-food sources of pleasure in my life. And it helps to focus on them.

I believe that eating pretty much the same stuff day after day helps a great deal in sustaining eternal vigilance and avoiding temptation. If I know I'm eating omelettes or oatmeal for breakfast, salads and fruit for lunch, soups and yogourt for dinner most days . . . and have those meals in my fridge, all ready to be eaten, at home and at work . . . then I'm not asking myself that very dangerous question, "What do I feel like eating today?" Which is a good thing. Because: what I want to eat and what I need to eat are not remotely the same thing. Some of the foods I want most are highly addictive to me. They will trigger binges if I have even a small portion.

So weight loss and maintenance is mostly about planning, and organizing my environment to avoid temptation. Hiding the peanut butter and cheese. Not bringing the chips into the house.

I believe that when it comes to weight loss and weight loss maintenance, will power is highly overrated. Will power is easily exhausted, especially because we need will power in so many other areas of our lives (to get to work on time; to avoid snarling at our spouses and kids; to change the sheets and run the laundry through and clean out the bath tub regularly . . . and a whole lot more).

I took off the initial big 80 pound whack o' weight in 2000-2001. Since then I've lost more and I've kept it off. I know that only 5% of people who take weight off keep it off. I know that those who've kept weight off for over 5 years and who track their calories daily and who pretty much eat the same things day after day and who weight themselves regularly and who average 30 minutes of exercise a day are more likely to keep it off. I do these things (although I tend to exercise 3-4 times a week for 60 minutes+).

So yes: I do believe that I will maintain my weight loss. I am consciously competent in weight loss and maintenance.

But: I'm not complacent about it. I don't take it for granted. I don't underestimate the effort it has taken and is taking and will take.

I've done quite a few tough things in my life. And weight loss maintenance is one of the very toughest. But I'm committed to doing it. Because: it's worth it.

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