Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Most of my weight loss history and my first year of maintenance were characterized by extremes. I'd either be extremely disciplined or extremely undisciplined and my weight reflected that pattern, yo-yoing from a high of 260 and a low of about 140 in my adult life. I could knock off large amounts of weight in a relatively short period of time by being a model dieter, but would then inevitably get fed up with the process and start a downward spiral of regain.
When I reached goal last year, I had been able to moderate my habits to the extent that I was able to stabilize my weight, but I was basically still being very disciplined most of the time and extremely undisciplined a small part of the time. On the outside, I seemed like a model maintainer because my weight was more or less staying the same. The reality wasn't so pretty--I was typically gorging myself one day a week (and usually just at one meal), easily eating more than 4,000 calories, then spending the rest of the week trying to make up for that. Although I was on maintenance. I was typically only eating between 1,300 and 1,400 calories six days a week. I was getting really tired of that pattern and feeling so deprived most of the time (which I think contributed to my weekly overeating sessions), so I made it my year two maintenance goal to work on that.
For the past few months, I had been trying to slowly increase my daily calories and cut back on my Saturday indulgences, but with only limited success. I had only increased my daily calories by about 100 most days and was still having trouble reigning things in on Saturdays. I also found it psychologically hard to take the step of increasing my calories too much because I always felt like I was in damage control mode from Sunday to Friday.
Then I hurt my knee, which happened on a Saturday. Because I wound up going to the hospital that evening, I didn't have my usual overeating marathon that day so I started off the new week on an even keel for once. Since I couldn't really exercise, I had to pay more attention to my eating and used it as an opportunity to try to increase my calories even more. Strangely enough, as I started adding more calories, my weight started dropping (which wasn't a goal of mine) even though I wasn't really exercising much. I managed to get up into the 1,700s most days and actually found that I was satisfied with much less once Saturdays rolled around. Now that I'm exercising again, I've been eating in the 1,800s and even 1,900s and my weight is still dropping. If this pattern keeps up, I'm going to continue adding calories until I level off.
I really thought I was doomed to a pattern of having to basically eat at my weight-loss levels most of the time to maintain my weight, so this revelation has been really exciting for me. It's still a work in progress because I haven't even been at it for a month, but this is really the moderation I've been striving for--eating at a level that is reasonable and satisfying most of the time with a few extra indulgences from time to time. More like a "normal" person! I had noticed during my weekly chow fests that I would eat waaay more than everyone else around me and realized that that wasn't normal. They were probably eating more than they usually did as well, but didn't feel compelled to stuff their faces the way I did. I feel so much better not eating until I feel "Thanksgiving full" like I basically had been every Saturday and I'm really shocked that I've been able to work my calories up so much in a relatively short period of time. It's all good stuff and gives me great hope for my prospects of really being a successful long-term maintainer.