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This is THE Place for Long-Term Weight Loss Support

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Like many people out here on SparkPeople.com, I've lost and regained large amounts of weight over the course of my life. I went on my first diet at the age of eight when my concerned mom signed me up for Weight Watchers. But as much as I learned about how to lose weight over the subsequent years, I had never taken the time to learn about what was needed for me to make my losses permanent. My yo-yo pattern was a constant throughout the rest of my childhood and well into my adult life. In my mid-20s, I was up above 260 pounds and managed to take off 115 pounds. Sadly, I didn't keep it off and found myself back up at 240 when I finally decided to take action and joined SparkPeople in March 2010.

As I approached goal in early 2012, I began searching for support and was shocked to find almost nothing. "How was that possible?," I thought to myself. With all the money that's poured into the diet and weight loss industry, there's really NOTHING out there to help people keep the weight off for good which, as anyone who's lost and regained weight can attest, is the hardest part of the process for many people? Thankfully, I did come across one very important source of maintenance support: the then-named At Goal & Maintaining team here on SparkPeople (now the more inclusive At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team: teams.sparkpeople.com/ma

As was my pattern on SparkPeople, I wasn't incredibly active on the team initially. I signed up, introduced myself, asked a few questions about transitioning to maintenance and added my statistics to the team's database. I chugged along quietly for a few months until an article that was published on SparkPeople reconnected me with one of the team's leaders, 4A-HEALTHY-BMI. We started an exchange of ideas about how we could make the needs of maintainers more visible both here on SparkPeople and beyond, how we could energize people who were at or near goal and how we could highlight the success of those who were staying successful on maintenance. 4A-HEALTHY-BMI had already been doing so much to help maintainers on the team such as running maintenance challenges, developing and updating the team's database of successful maintainers, which also serves as a source to celebrate maintenance anniversaries, and cultivating interesting discussions based not only on the varied experience of maintainers, but also on the science behind successful maintenance.

Since then, we've started featuring the blogs of members of our team who focus on maintenance-related issues not only to help connect people who are currently at or near goal, but also to raise awareness around SparkPeople about the challenges maintainers face and how they can be dealt with. Our team has grown quite a bit since that time and I think we've got one of the best sources of information and support for maintainers going in the virtual world. Many of our members blog about their victories and struggles on maintenance, we've developed new challenges to help keep maintainers motivated and new discussions spring up on a daily basis. So many people have pitched in to help with this effort and it seems to be paying off--more and more of us are continuing to beat the odds and stay successful on maintenance.

As part of these efforts, we've (well, mostly 4A-HEALTHY-BMI) put together a sort of resource center for maintenance-related issues called our "Big Page of Links." This document not only highlights many of the resources we've got on the At Goal & Maintaining & Transition to Maintenance team, but also provides links to other useful articles, blogs and scientific research that are connected to maintenance:


In addition to sharing this document with our team, we've also started sharing it with outside sources who are interested in maintenance to help spread the word about the need for maintenance support. Impressed by our efforts, RUSSLANE of "We Keep it Off" and FLEXCHEF of "Fit To Be in Your Kitchen" have agreed to feature our resource center on their Facebook pages for a wider audience to see:



I highly recommend checking out both of their Facebook pages not only to "like" and comment on our "Big Page of Links" so that other people who are interested in long-term maintenance can benefit from it and learn more about the support offered here on the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team here on SparkPeople, but also to learn more about their personal efforts to help people continue to lead healthier, sustainable lifestyles.

It is our hope that resources for maintainers will only continue to grow, so that more and more of us will enjoy long-term success. And it all started here on SparkPeople. Even if you're not at goal yet, please consider checking out and joining our team to learn more about how you can make your weight management efforts truly permanent:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I had lost and gained significant amounts a few times and one of the problems is that I didn't know about maintaining. I did know, but somehow I got the idea that I didn't have to worry about it as much and told myself exercise would take care of the ebb and flow. BUT what I didn't count on was that exercise may be interrupted and the other thing was I had not yet got a handle on what my food addiction issues were and what I needed to do to maintain.

    I wasn't like 'normal' people with food--I let my guard down and next thing I know I am back to eating triple portions of the wrong foods, adding butter to the mashed potatoes again and picking up fried chicken for a quick meal.

    This time I set out from the beginning with maintenance in mind and I am so THANKFUL there are people like you, 4A-HEALTHY-BMI, and others who have given this phase of weight loss a proper place!!! Since I have been here I have been enlightened that people who have maintained for years (NellJones) still need to keep mindful even after many years. That has helped me tremendously too. It is a like treating a chronic illness (for me) I will need to be mindful forever.

    Thank You for making this part of your mission. I am looking forward to the support, friendship, education for sometime to come. And, maybe even be able to help out someone else someday. Keep up the good work. emoticon
    1651 days ago
    Fantastic blog. The work you and Anja are doing to build awareness of maintenance is the most important facet of Spark (IMHO) and unique with respect to the "weight loss industry" . . . probably because there's no profit in it!!

    I'm the only person left in the world not on Facebook, so can't help with those links: but I've got no doubt that this initiative is going to help spread the Maintenance focus farther and wider!!

    Great job!!
    1653 days ago
    I so appreciate the work you and 4A-Healthy-BMI have done to help those of us who have not been able to maintain before. Thank you!
    1653 days ago
    Thank you to both of you for the work you've put into this project.
    1653 days ago
    1653 days ago
    Education: the secret to life :o)

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    1653 days ago
  • MKELLY72
    What a fantastic way to spread all that great information. This is such a great mission you (and others) have taken on, and so many of us are thankful beyond words for the access to all the support and encouragement, because there really are some struggling times in this whole maintenance thing. So many people who are not in the journey at all seem to think of weight loss as a start and stop kind of thing--I was guilty of that kind of thinking too once upon a time, hence the yo-yo affect of 20+ years. These kind of resources and the support that comes from it are so valuable! Thank you!
    1653 days ago
    That's cool about the facebook links!
    1653 days ago
    I've been at goal a long time and Spark is the first place that even recognized maintenance as a phase of a weight loss journey that required, well, maintaining. People spend money when they are desperate, so there is no money in maintenance support. It had to be a free site like Spark that picked up that piece of the journey. After all, we will spend a lot more time maintaining than losing.
    1653 days ago
    Your hard work and dedication is cattily paying off. I bet you will never know how much of an impact your blogs about maintenance truly have. Thank you for being you!
    1653 days ago
  • KANOE10
    You both have done a wonderful job to support the maintenance team. Your new link is an incredible source of information and support. I love it.
    Thanks to both of you.

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    1653 days ago
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    1653 days ago
    Great advice as always, TJ!
    1653 days ago
    Great blog post! And thanks for the tips on maintenance. For the past 5 years I seem to lose and gain the same 15 lbs. Will certainly follow through with your advice on keeping on a more even keel. You give me so much inspiration :) emoticon
    1653 days ago
    I only quickly managed to browse through the "big page of links" but I think it's a terrific idea and it's great that it will be available to a bigger number of people.
    Your work at the maintenance team is absolutely fantastic! I may not be extremely active on the message boards - which I'd really like to find the time to do! - but I always read your blogs and many of the others maintainers', and they've helped me tremendously.
    Thank you for all your hard work!
    1653 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.