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Regain happens. The most important thing is what you do about it.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

I started at 335.6 lbs in 2007, got down to 326.2 in late 2008.
I reached my initial goal weight (under 160) in early 2010.
I have been up and down both above and below 160 several times since then.
I eventually moved my target goal weight to 150 and made 160 my “scream weight.”


Currently my moving average is 12 lbs above my “happy range” between 145.5 and 154.5 (+/- 3% around 150), and 6.5 over my “scream weight” of 160. I haven’t lifted weights regularly in the last four months, and I can tell. This isn’t muscle gain. In fact, according to the BIA trends on my scale, I’ve been losing muscle mass.

While I still am technically maintaining according to some criteria, I’m not happy with where I am at the moment. I’m generally healthy, but not in the athletic shape I was in last year. I wrote last December about why I wanted to get back into my “happy range” and continue getting stronger.

The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry. Unexpected things happened, some of them very positive. Plans changed. Priorities shifted. I briefly did get back into range this spring but did not stay there.

For the past six months I’ve been treading water, trying to balance my new distractions with moderate food control and a mixture of cardio activities, and it has lead to gradual gains. This "strategy" clearly isn't working. The time has come for action.

So what am I going to do about it?

One option is to decide to be happy right here, where I’m at, and try to avoid gaining any more weight. But I suspect that sort of approach will lead to denial and continued weight creep. I know myself. This isn’t my first rodeo. I gained and lost over 100 lbs in my 20s, and regained them plus almost 100 more in my 30s. That’s how I got to 335.6 in the first place. And deep down inside I am not liking what I see when I look in the mirror. I am not liking that I can no longer wear my favorite pants. My self-esteem is taking a hit here, and that can be more damaging than anything else, in the long run.

Another option is to drop the new positive things in my life and go back to the exercise schedule and food plans I had before. That would give me back the body I want, but not the life I want. I LIKE the new things in my life, and I want to keep them there.

My main problem with the way I’ve been trying to manage my food and exercise is that I have been easily distracted from doing the positive behaviors. There hasn’t been sufficient incentive to skip the cookies on the snack table at contra dances, avoid the chips and beer after kayaking all day, stay out of the dried cranberries and almonds in the bf’s kitchen, take the time to lift, etc. So I think the solution is to set something up to help me stay more engaged with the process.

When I lost 160 lbs in 2009 I did it by making a spreadsheet with a whole bunch of little milestones, such that there was always a new goal and reward just around the corner.

If this strategy worked in the past, then something like it will probably work now because mentally I’m still the same person with the same kind of psychology.

The difference this time is that I don’t want to over-restrict my calories. That leads to bingeing. Losing those last 10 lbs and doing successful body recomposition goes extremely slowly. And over the past six months I have been unsuccessful getting back into my “happy range” partly because the thought of continuing the effort for months is kind of overwhelming.

So my milestones are a lot closer, this time. This is what it looks like:

168.00 (start)


I have set a mini-goal of losing 1% of my body weight from my recent maximum (167.6). Then another 1%. And so on, until I get under my scream weight (160) and back within my “happy range” (between 145.5 and 154.5). I will use the trend weight from my moving average since that reflects where I actually am, smoothing out water fluctuations.

These mini-goals are measurable and achievable. They are the trail of breadcrumbs I will follow back to my “happy range.” The gap between them is small enough that there’s always another one, if I just go a little bit further.

My rewards will be a new Buff headband each time I get to or below a milestone. I like wearing them to control sweat and keep my hair out of my face during workouts and dances. They come in a bunch of different pretty designs and colors, which is fun.

I will eat between 1500 and 2000 calories per day on my plan:

I will continue the cardio I’ve been doing (a mixture of contra dancing, Tae Kardio, spin class, and kayaking) and add back in lifting 2x per week.

And I will continue to administer and participate in the maintenance challenges in the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team. teams.sparkpeople

Although I’ve been out of range for the last few of these, the accountability is helpful to me, as is seeing so many of my teammates successfully staying within their own happy ranges.

The fat won’t come off overnight. But I believe the little goals along the way are achievable within every week or two, and that’s what I need to keep myself going over the long haul to get back to where I want to be.

Finding strategies that work is all part of the big process of learning how to keep the weight off. While I’ve definitely gotten better at it over the past 3 years, there is still a whole lot more to learn. I won’t even start to think of myself as a “successful” maintainer until I’ve passed the 5-year mark. And even then I’ll still have to stay engaged, because statistically about 20% of maintainers regain after that point. By that time I hope to have a lot more skills and experience under my belt. And kept less body fat under that belt, too!

Here is a spreadsheet of my progress

and a graph

To see more about using trend weights, visit the Hacker's Diet spark team: teams.sparkpeople.com/ha
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Small steps is the way to go - good for you!
    1586 days ago
    Very cool spreadsheets! Thanks for sharing! My husband is just beginning his 100+ pound weight-loss journey and, as an engineer that loves stats, I think a spreadsheet like yours could be just what he needs to help reach his goals!

    Did you create your spreadsheets from scratch or use a template?

    Good luck on your new plan!
    1586 days ago
    You have wisdom, courage, and determination which is how you managed to be a SUCCESS! Congratulations!
    1586 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    emoticon Great to see your blog featured in the Spark Mail. What an honor.
    1586 days ago
    You have great insight. I so appreciate everything you share.
    1586 days ago
    1586 days ago
    You are one smart cookie...er...vegetable ;~}
    1586 days ago
    Thank you so so much. I am going to check out the hacker's trends spark team.

    And I absolutely love the 1% change. THAT I can do.

    1586 days ago
    The reason I have to do it One Day At A Time is that, like you, I know myself. I tell myself that I know how to do it and that I CAN do it.......tomorrow. It's so easy to put off something that you can see in your mind how it works, the beginning, middle and end. In my mind it looks easy. I concentrate on the Food angle because that is something I have control over every day. Something that takes a chunk of time may or may not be possible because stuff DOES happen and the walking or lifting may not fit into today, but my food intake can. I now know to the very marrow of my bones, that tomorrow will be harder than today, so hard as it may feel, Today is always the Easier, Softer Way.

    I look forward to your blog in a few months that you are back to your Jumping For Joy weight!
    1586 days ago
  • SHERYLP461
    Good job, you've got a plan
    1586 days ago
    very good
    1586 days ago
    Love the tracking tools!
    1586 days ago
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    1586 days ago
    Thank you - I'm exactly at the point you are - treading water for the last six months. I do well for several days and then fall off the tracking wagon.

    Going to do as you did and set mini goals for myself.

    Your blog was a much needed inspiration!

    1586 days ago
    Finding strategies that work...hey, if anyone can do this I just KNOW it's gonna be YOU! :-)

    Cheers to all the good things in life and juggling them in a way that works for you and your happiness!

    1587 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1587 days ago
    I agree with Carrie. Comfortable breeds gains when weight is an issue. You can do it!!!
    1587 days ago
  • CARRIE1948
    DO NOT even consider deciding to be happy where you are or in 6 months there will be another post talking about being in the 170s, etc. Also, no need to drop your new distraction -- it's part of life.

    You know what you have to do: chart the hell out of everything, get back into weights and just used your dogged determination.
    1587 days ago
    Undoubtedly, "regain happens."

    I gained 9 pounds after 9 weeks away from home, and found that even though it was "only" 9 pounds, *MY* self esteem has taken quite a hit, too. I don't like the extra weight around my middle, and now it's time to take action. I like your idea of mini-milestones.
    1587 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1587 days ago
  • LE7_1234
    "And over the past six months I have been unsuccessful getting back into my “happy range” partly because the thought of continuing the effort for months is kind of overwhelming. "

    Yup. I find that when I've shifted out of "happy range", I have to start by, well, thinking about what will make me happy. Counting calories won't--so what can I do to ensure I'm more mindful about what I eat? Some days, running won't do it--so what exercise can I do that *will* make me feel good?

    This is in addition to rewards for hitting milestones....
    1587 days ago
    1587 days ago
    emoticon Sounds like you have A Great Plan in place, with Concrete, Measurable Goals.
    emoticon It looks like a Recipe For Success!!
    emoticon Every Day in Maintenance is a Challenge, but by being Mindful of our daily Choices I believe that we CAN meet that Challenge successfully.
    And, our "Secret Weapon" is the Support, Encouragement, and Accountability of Our Spark Friends!!
    1587 days ago
    I'm still struggling with my own, smaller regain, but the key for me is to make it a life time change to get out of the habit of eating between meals. The ultimate safety is to keep a food diary with a calorie count every day. Easier said than done, I feel compulsions to NOT do that.

    However, if you time it you see it only takes ~4min a day, total, so you can use that to talk back to your compulsions and remind yourself that watching what you eat/snack isn't a time drain.
    1587 days ago
    I'm so impressed with your approach to this. I know you can do it. Please keep us posted.
    1587 days ago
    1587 days ago
    You have been so thoughtful about your plan of attack that I have no doubt that you will accomplish it. Purpose + planning = unbeatable! emoticon emoticon
    1587 days ago
    I have no doubt that youll reach your happy place! You are a great example of persevere ce and determination! Thanks for the spreadsheet example. What a great idea! I'm off to do mine :)
    1587 days ago
    You've inspired me to make a mini goal chart! :)
    1587 days ago
    You sure put all the info together when you wrote this blog! I think this is one of the smartest blogs I've ever read. You know yourself; you know what it takes for you.
    You are considering ALL the factors. You are your own counselor & coach.
    Are you in that capacity with others now?
    I am VERY impressed with you, your success so far, your plan!
    1587 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    What a thoughtful post. I have regained also (only 2 lbs, but as you point out - a slippery slope) and this gives me some motivation to move forward.
    1587 days ago
    What an amazing blog. The strategy with milestones really works. Can I add you as a friend? I want to keep a eye on your progress in order to motivate me on my bad days. I also lost 100lb and put it back on twice. Just starting again and desperately want to succeed this time.
    1587 days ago
    Thanks for being so honest. Your plan sounds great. emoticon
    1587 days ago
  • 123ELAINE456
    Sounds like a Good Plan. You Can Do It. Keep Pushing Forward. You Will Make It. God Blessings to You and Everyone. Have a Delightful Day. Take Care. Hugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    1587 days ago
    one step at a time, one pound at a time!

    Maintenance is about what works for you.
    1587 days ago
    Maintenance seems to be a balancing act, or maybe a juggling act. I am sure you can achieve this goal. You know what you need to do and what works, now you just have to apply it. I believe in you!
    1587 days ago
    one bite, one day, one pound at a time -- every little bit helps!
    1587 days ago
  • KDRICH24
    WOW! YOU ARE AWESOME! Seriously ! This is a fight for so many people and you are inspiration!
    1588 days ago
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