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5 Surprises After 5 Years of Maintenance

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What can I say about 5 years of maintaining an 80 pound weight loss after more than 5 decades of being overweight or obese? I've already said so much. In "Please Read This Blog If You've Gained Back Weight Before," I credit Super Foods, increased cardio, and most importantly the mindset to "quit quitting" as my keys to maintenance success.
I still believe every word of this blog.

In "How I Found My Inner Jock" I tell about my foray into running after years of gradually evolving from couch potato status:
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Running has helped me. I love it. But I know that successful maintenance is probably 80% food and 20% activity. During time of injury or limited activity for any reason, I can still maintain by focusing on food. I feel best, though, if I get in my activity!!

What can I add at this 5 year milestone? Well, I am really surprised about a lot of things.

1. First surprise: I have kept off 80 pounds. Honestly, I did not think I could do it. And that lack of confidence scared me. I read that having confidence in your ability to maintain is important to success. I knew I wasn't confident, so I worked to try to build confidence. Earning trophies here at SparkPeople, blogging about small successes, acknowledging and savoring compliments from 3D friends and SparkFriends, celebrating minor victories all helped me gain confidence.

2. Second surprise: It still isn't easy. It takes a daily (or more often) commitment. And the hardest day to make that commitment is when I messed up the day before. I know those "getting back on track" days are critical to success. I've had an hour or maybe two in the past 5 years where I gave up. But I have not had a whole day. I grab some water, do some exercise, and declare myself back to healthy living NOW.

3. Third surprise: If I honestly look at how much time I spend struggling with food issues, it is a very small percentage of my life. Given that it isn't easy, and that I'm tempted to overeat every week (actually on most days), I could envision myself obsessed with food and food thoughts. That isn't so. Usually I have a small period of time after supper when it is hard not to eat even though I know I don't need more food. That time is harder when I'm tired but can't go to bed yet or when I haven't been able to exercise. Thinking about what I really, really want helps at those times.

4. Fourth surprise: I don't have to endure much hunger. Through the Beck Diet Solution I learned that I can endure hunger. Hunger is not an emergency. However, maintenance is easier for me if I'm not hungry. If I make wise choices and eat small meals often, I have very little actual hunger. If I go to a ball park and have a hot dog on a white bun or go to a birthday party and choose to have a piece of cake I will be hungry and want to go over my calorie limits. I know it is my choice. Do I want to eat a convenience food or enjoy a treat? If so, am I willing to endure a bit of hunger?

5. Fifth surprise: I have not nailed down my healthy routines. I still don't have menu plans that I have been meaning to develop now for years. Hubby still does the grocery shopping and our kitchen is filled with whatever is on special. He is great about always getting lots of fruits and veggies. And I always have tuna in water, fat free cottage cheese, frozen plain fish like cod and tilapia, 70 calorie Boca Burgers and other low calorie protein sources so I can choose to eat something other than what he wants. I've definitely learned to be flexible. I can make my calories balance out even if a last minute decision to eat out is thrown at me. I've learned that no food can trigger me to eat if I'm feeling strong and healthy and determined. I am stronger than peanut butter. I am stronger than candy bars. I am stronger than cake. I am stronger than any food.

And it is no surprise that the support I've gotten from my SparkFriends has been a major factor in my success! As ONEKIDSMOM tells me every day, life is good. Life is precious. And to be able to live life fit is a tremendous blessing to be valued and prized!!
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