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: