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Maintenance: Nirvana?

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I posted in my status today that I am amused. What sparked that was today's program from Spark Coach:

"If you dream of the day when you'll no longer have to measure portions and count calories, then today's challenge will be a breath of fresh air!"

I had to laugh at that. Once upon a time, I did dream of no longer having to measure portions and count calories. I thought I would get to my goal weight and life would be just grand, I would magically be able to eat without having to think about it and have whatever I wanted. Goal weight = nirvana, right?


Um, no.


I'm now at 55 weeks+ into maintenance and have been staying pretty much firmly planted in my goal range throughout that time. It has not been nirvana, magical, or anything like that, however.

Here's the thing: my lifestyle in maintenance looks pretty much like my lifestyle in losing weight. Yep, I still measure and track what I eat; I still run and workout; I still try to make better choices about food, drink, and activity; I still weigh daily and measure myself monthly. I've lost weight before and always gained it back, and now I know it is because I let myself believe the myth that the weight would somehow not find me again once I lost it. NOT TRUE!

If I get sloppy or too casual with my eating or lazy with my activity, the scale and measurements reflect it. The reality is that in spite of losing well over 100 pounds and even keeping it off for over a year now, I can easily slide back into old, couch potato, fast food eating habits. I know me; I know my weaknesses. I've caught myself reaching into the bag of (healthy) dried fruit and nuts when I wasn't really hungry. Pretzels are risky to have out where they are too visible. Chocolate and ice cream and cake send out their siren songs to me even when they are out of sight. Shoot, I hear them calling my name when they're nowhere in the house! I can have those, but in modest quantities and occasionally, not daily.

It's still a little strange for me to think that people who meet me now have no idea what I used to look like or be like. I don't volunteer the information or whip out an old photo, but occasionally the subject of weight loss or learning to run will come up with someone new, and if I tell them where I started, they usually stare at me in disbelief. Quite a change from this:

to this:

In order to keep the pounds off, I know what I need to do: make sure I'm keeping a good balance of food and activity. Too much food and/or too little activity is a recipe for weight gain; been there, done that, don't want to do it again.

Funny, that's an awful lot like it was losing weight. Good thing I started this process with the idea that I was changing my lifestyle, not going on a diet. It made it easier to transition to maintenance, mainly just adjusting how much I eat so there is not a big surplus each week.

Maintenance is not nirvana, but it is so worth the effort to get there and stay there!


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
TUBLADY 9/27/2013 12:15PM

    Congratulations on the loss and the 55 weeks maintenance.
This blog could have had my name at the bottom. For I too was in the hopes that once the weight was gone I could go back to an earlier time when i could eat what i wanted, workout 2, 3 times a week and it would be OK.
well times as changed. i am no longer the younger person who burned up the calories. I have to watch portions, have to exercise daily. To let up is a sure weight gain. I too have to weigh daily. I can't afford to gain 4, 5 lbs and then lose. It's too hard.
I'm happy for you and happy that i don't feel like the odd person who still has to track and weigh, to stay in line.
Take care,
Tisha emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DEBSZOO74 9/17/2013 12:55AM

    Congratulations on your weight loss and 55+ weeks of maintenance! You look great! emoticon

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 9/12/2013 5:59PM

    Great blog. I'm at my goal weight but eating very strictly due to cancer. Assuming I'm able to get the cancer into remission, I'll be faced with the same delimma afterward of how to eat post cancer. Since cancer is actually a chronic disease, it's important that I don't know back to my old ways afterward. I'm just thinking that these next nine months of treatment will instill healthy eating habits for life.

Motivation counts for a lot!

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STFRENCH 9/10/2013 7:21PM

    You look amazing!

That blog is spot-on: things started to move on for me when I stopped "dieting" and started changing my life-style. For me, it was not measuring portions and counting calories that did the trick, it was cleaning up my nutrition and lifting heavy weights, but I am very aware that it is a lyfestyle I will have to maintain in order to keep on enjoying its benefits.

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    Congrats on you 55+ weeks! I think you have what it takes to keep it off FOREVER!

I appreciate you letting us know that it NOT Easy Street, and we can expect to live pretty much the same way we do to lose.

You look BEAUTIFUL, plus radiantly happy!

Happy Trails!

Oak Ash and Thorn

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JTAMSYN 9/9/2013 11:12AM

    Great blog! And how true you are! We can't expect to go back to old habits just because we're in maintenance! Eating whatever you want has its consequences. You are looking great and are definitely in a position to help those that are starting!

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LOSINGLISA 9/9/2013 7:02AM

    Yes! Maintenance is just like you said! You look absolutely fantastic. Congratulations for doing the hard work to treat yourself right!

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-SHOREIDO- 9/8/2013 9:55PM

    Great blog! Thanks so much for sharing. Love the "Changing my lifestyle". That sounds like a great tool for maintaining.
It is that "change" which makes us hold onto what we've earned.
Good job emoticon

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DESERTJULZ 9/8/2013 1:52PM

    Inspirational and realistic blog!

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BASS6196 9/8/2013 7:45AM

    Great blog. You look great. emoticon

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LRSILVER 9/7/2013 9:36PM


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FIFIFRIZZLE 9/7/2013 5:36PM


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EVERLEARNING 9/6/2013 11:52PM


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VTRICIA 9/6/2013 11:13PM

    I remember that SparkCoach lesson, and I remember feeling like if I was to do it "right" I would have to stop measuring, stop weighing, and stop treating my eating like an addiction.

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PAG2809 9/6/2013 8:31AM

    Awesome achievements - successful weight loss, successful maintenance, a popular blog award... and everything else that has gone along with it. I'm so glad that I've been able to be along for a portion of this. So proud of you! emoticon

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JANEMARIE77 9/6/2013 8:17AM

    this was a great blog for me I was maintaining doing great and than went on the crazy ride of eating to much and not exercising I put on 20 plus lbs in 4 months it took 3 years to lose 40 ish will I not down or out I've learned I really really don[t like looking like this so back on track and if it take a year an half to lose it again thats ok because this is a forever journey not a diet thank you

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SLENDERELLA61 9/6/2013 7:44AM

    Great blog! Well deserving of its award and being highlighted by the At Goal... Team. And even bigger congrats on your awesome weight loss and year+ maintenance! That is just spectacular!! Well done. Keep Sparking. I know it helps me maintain to Spark and people like you inspire me to keep on doing it!! -Marsha

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    Great Blog! I've been in maintenance for a few months now and this is my second time around. This time I have a better mind set - it is a lifestyle change! It's not easy, but I am worth it.

You are doing emoticon emoticon

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MOONCHILD8 9/5/2013 8:45PM

    I love this blog you wrote. I am a maintainer too. You are so right it is not magic. You still have to weigh and measure your food and need to be active but it is so worth the effort to feel better. Linda from bean town

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_JODI404 9/5/2013 7:18PM

    Great blog! It is definitely a lifestyle change, and the work continues lifelong.

I think the key is to stick with has worked for you and don't allow any slipping into old ways. Old ways = old you and none of us ever want to go back!!

I agree.... it is NOT Nirvana by any means, but it is worth every good choice and ounce of effort. So. Totally. Worth. It.!!!!!!!!!

Also: Awesome transformation -- you look great!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/5/2013 7:18:31 PM

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WATERMELLEN 9/5/2013 6:55PM

    What a transformation: congrats to you! And your take on maintenance is exactly the same as mine: we just keep on keeping on if we want to keep on keeping it off!!

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    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Yes siree! Lifestyle all the way! We have to keep doing what we have done to lose the weight in order not to gain it back! Great blog! You look great!

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/5/2013 6:21PM

    Here's another absolute truth about maintenance blog! Well written!

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THOMS1 9/5/2013 5:00PM

    emoticon on your maintenance. My sister has been on maintenance for about a year and like she says you are spot on. I'm not on maintenance yet but in about 7 or 8 lbs I will be. Watching my sister I see little difference between losing and maintaining. It all takes tracking, weighing, measuring and exercising. I wish you continued success. emoticon

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HOLLYM48 9/5/2013 2:40PM

    I totally understand everything you just said! This is exactly how I think about maintenance, it really isn't any different than when I was trying to lose weight, just a few more calories per day, but still have to do all the work to stay right where I want to be!
Great blog, and so very true!
Hang tough, we know we can resist those temptations that call us!
Congrats on 55 weeks and holding steady! Way to go!

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IAMAGEMLOVER 9/5/2013 2:24PM

    I was reading the blog treating myself to a Magnum Caramel bar. I wish I never tried them, they a nirvana. I too track my food daily and weigh and measure my food. I only weigh myself weekly and that is only because I am doing the 5% challenge and it is required. Maintenance is so much like losing weight, it is not easy but like you said so worth the effort. I too lost over 120 pounds.

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TIGER_LILY_613 9/5/2013 12:41PM

  Congratulations on keeping the weight off ! And thank you for this blog !

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KIMBERLY_Y 9/5/2013 12:41PM

    Great job! Congratulations!

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SWEET_CAROLYN 9/5/2013 11:34AM

    THANK YOU for this - you are truly an inspiration to a fellow 100+ pound loser! I'm about reading to maintenance and you show me it CAN be done.

Thank you and congrats on your 55+ weeks in Maintenance!! You ROCK!!

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DIANNEMT 9/5/2013 11:28AM

    Your words echo what I have been thinking--I will always be doing the same stuff I did to lose the weight--just maybe not pushing quite as hard. I am maintaining!!

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SPARKLINGME176 9/5/2013 11:05AM

    YES! Fantastic blog! Thanks! I LOVE your before & after..... mine REALLY help me remember WHY I decided to get & stay healthy! emoticon

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SUNSHINE20113 9/5/2013 11:04AM

    Lovely blog!! Thank you for sharing, and so very true. I'm struggling with the realization that the monitoring of food intake never really ends. I've been maintaining for about a year and a half ago, and just at the moment am feeling tired with having to keep an eye on my portions. But, like you, I know that if I don't the weight will just creep on again and I certainly don't want that to happen!!

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BESSHAILE 9/5/2013 11:01AM

    What a fabulous transformation. And that wonderful smile in the first picture just got bigger and brighter in the second one.

It's true. I will be doing the monitoring, moving and minding for the rest of my life - so that makes maintenance a lifestyle.

Thanks for leading the way.

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SUSIEMT 9/5/2013 10:35AM

    Denise, I feel like you are my "other" sister! You are so spot on about what you said! When starting my weight loss journey into a healthy lifestyle change I decided that I knew nothing and the spark experts knew everything! That made such a difference for me. I realized it had to be a "lifestyle change" and that it did!

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MEXGAL1 9/5/2013 10:23AM

    Terrific! You must be so very proud. Maintenance is worth it to me....everyday is a day I devote to making good choices based on good nutrition. Keep up the good work. You look wonderful!

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LESLIELENORE 9/5/2013 9:51AM

    emoticon So true!

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FELINA 9/5/2013 9:37AM

    You are SO right ! Maintenance is a lot like the weight loss process. I also still record what I eat and the exercise I do, to keep tabs on myself. Not doing so would, and has, resulted in regaining some pounds. I've learned I will always need to be vigilant. But that's OK, because I never want to go back to where I was before.

On your weight loss and maintenance success !
For your great attitude !

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DSJB9999 9/5/2013 9:37AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon for maintaining for over a year and talking such sense in your blog emoticon

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CELIAMINER 9/5/2013 8:44AM

    You said it just right, and I needed your blog, as I've been struggling the last few weeks. No biggie...I've been through slumps before, but motivational blogs like yours help me get out of them.

I also still measure my food and weigh daily. Measuring is a habit now, and daily weighing helps me spot trends. Here's to the good and healthy life we call "maintenance"!

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KANOE10 9/5/2013 8:34AM

    Great blog and so true. You gave a great description of maintenance. What a great accomplishment and how wonderful you have kept if off for a year.


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_LINDA 9/5/2013 8:16AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Well done! You have unlocked the key to successful maintaining!! Its a lifetime commitment to healthy living!
Keep up the great work!!

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DELLMEL 9/5/2013 8:09AM

  Great blog. Thanks

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MOMMY445 9/5/2013 8:02AM

    this is so true!

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NELLJONES 9/5/2013 7:59AM

    I have been at goal for over 40 years, and I STILL weigh and measure each ingredient as it goes into a dish, and I portion out onto plates, just like I did back in 1970. It's just not that hard. As a matter of fact, the discovery of a kitchen scale (they were little spring things back then) changed everything. The digital ones now make measuring anything EASIER. 3/4 oz dry pasta will be 1/2 cup cooked. 1.5 oz oatmeal is one cup cooked. How easy is that? My old leader told me that it takes creativity to eat within the parameters of the food plan (which was pretty restrictive way back when), and creativity is the soul of artistic expression. My Food Plan is as much an art as sewing or painting. How can I not love that? I still plan my food days in a notebook (never made the transition to electronic) and it makes my days feel ordered, even if the rest of life is spinning out of control. You're right, it's all in how you see it.

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MANDELOVICH 9/5/2013 7:48AM

    Beautifully said. Congratulations on your amazing success, persistence, diligence and commitment!

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SWEDE_SU 9/5/2013 7:43AM

    great description of maintenance - lifestyle it is!

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TORTISE110 9/5/2013 7:37AM

    I so agree that maintenance is a lot like dieting, only lighter (-:

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CARRIE1948 9/5/2013 7:37AM

    I love this honest picture of what life is after losing the weight - life doesn't magically become perfect and you have to remain vigilant.

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BEMILLER30 9/3/2013 2:32PM

    Awesome blog post! This speaks to me so much b/c I keep going back and forth about tracking now while I need to lose 100 lbs. I get sick of tracking, so I've got to find my happy place.
Thanks for sharing! You are so amazing and look fabulous!


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    I'm so impressed and so glad I know you! You are showing me how it's done!

I realize this is all for life. Whatever gets me to goal will be what I have to do to stay there. Course I still need to be doing what will get me there, but I'm working on emoticon it.

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