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The illusion of control..

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I was having a chat with a friend of mine the other day. This is no ordinary friend, this is a guy who has lost 179 lbs in the last year. Can you imagine?? I mean, I've lost lots of weight before, but 179 lbs is a good sized person!! Anyway, he did this by joining a program where he went for weekly classes and weigh-ins, ate some of their prepared meals, exercised most days of every week for about an hour. Most of us who have been on the weight loss roller coaster know that "ready" feeling that we can't really explain but that is the difference between one more unsuccessful attempt and the one that works for the next 6 months or the next year or years...well, a year ago he got that feeling and, to his credit, he has ridden it all the way to losing all that weight.

Anyway, the reason I'm talking about this friend is that he said to me the other day he was almost ready to stop taking the weekly classes and couldn't wait to only weigh in once a month, that he knows what he has to do and will never go back to what he was before his amazing weight loss...

I am so afraid for him. I wanted to scream to him DON'T STOP GOING!!! I have had that feeling..that, I'm never going to be fat again feeling. I've had it several times in my life, and yet here I sit, weighing more than I ever have and discovering that all those people who used to tell me how much harder it is to lose weight at you get older were absolutely right. It is harder and, looming ahead, should you be successful, is the ever bigger hurdle of keeping it off.

When you lose weight in a healthy manner, one to two pounds a week over a long period of time, it isn't easy to gain it back. This should be good, but it isn't, because it lulls us into that false sense of security that we can have this or that and the scale won't move...then we've thissed or thatted our way to gaining a couple of pounds, then 5, then 10....and so on.

The issue of weight loss and overeating is so incredibly complex. It's a lot like any addction...alcoholics who think they can have just one drink fall off the wagon, ditto for drug addicts or smokers.. But it's a worse addiction and here's why: you can live without drinking or drugs or cigarettes (even though you don't always feel that you can, you physcially can!), but you simply cannot live without eating. So, you must eat, but you must watch what you eat. And that is what makes losing weight so much different and more dificult to manage than overcoming any other addiction.

I don't really have answers for any of this... For me, if I'm ever lucky enough to get to a healthy weight again, it will be to never stop doing what got me there, to never think that I've gotten to the point where I'm in control, because I will never be in control of this enough for it not to be a threat to me. Mind you, I'm not giving up nor am I giving in, I just recognize that the more "in control" I think I am, the more likely I am to lose control. So I won't get cocky ever again, I make that solemn promise..

Here's to getting through this day with reasonable success...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Sorry, I didn't mean to step on your toes... and I should have started with, "you're right! Being complacent about weight won't ever work!"

    I already have my maintenance plan in place, and I didn't engage in the process of actively losing weight, until I could envision how I would live on after I reached the loss I'm working toward. To me they've never been separate. I read something early on: "Don't do anything to lose the weight that you won't continue to do afterward to maintain it." It's the foundation for my choices NOW - the food I eat on a daily basis is the food I've always eaten and will always eat, the food I 'm not eating now is food that I won't personally ever eat again, I will exercise a little daily for the rest of my life, I will weigh myself regularly, I will never again be complacent about my weight and health - I really can't see how I can gain the weight back if I truly and consistently maintain the habits I used to lose the weight. You're also right in saying that the issue is incredibly complex - I think where most people miss the mark is in not examining the complexity, nor do they have a realisitic plan for addressing all facets connected to 'weight' in their lives.
    4633 days ago
    You are a good friend and a wise person! You are right. Losing is only a small part of the journey. Learning to live life in a way that maintains what you've worked so hard to attain is most of it! I've been maintaining since Oct 2007 and I still weigh in every week and probably will for the rest of my life. I also track regularly - not daily anymore since I have my within calorie range menus all figured out, but I do track occasionally to make sure I'm staying on top of things as well as I think I am. We have to have a plan in place to protect the investment we made in losing the weight. Otherwise, we will find ourselves looking in the mirror one day wondering how we got back to where we were... I'm never going back!!!
    4634 days ago
  • TINATC26
    No, he's not cocky at all...you are right on in terms of where he is and what his outlook is, and I am nothing but supportive of him and am thrilled for him.. Please understand, this blog is more about me and my personal experience with weight loss and maintenance. I haven't been cocky in the past either, and I HAD that healthy lifestyle, and looked forward to continuing it.. Look, I'm not being a doom and gloomer, but what I am saying is that those old habits that got me to the point I'm at now can come back a whole lot more easily than one would think. I have been overweight most of my adult life, and I've had many really significant losses and done them all with good eating and exercise, so I've seen both sides of this, and this really only relates to me, but my conversation with my friend awakened all of this My friend wasn't looking for advice, and I wouldn't offer it unless he was. My point is just that for me, I just always have to keep my guard up once reaching the maintenance phase, and I was thinking aloud...
    4635 days ago
    Interesting perspective...

    Is your friend 'cocky' or is he just confidently and realistically looking forward to moving on to the next phase - maintaining and living as a healthy person? It sounds to me like he's simply looking forward to a little more freedom in his life, and the time to do more than just focus on his weight (me too - but I'm a long ways off). He says he knows what to do, and it sounds to me like he intends to keep doing it. People with a healthy lifestyle don't go to weekly meetings to make sure they stay healthy, they use their time to do the things that keep them healthy and then use the rest of their time to simply enjoy their life.

    Why don't you tell him of your admiration for him, and your fears for him based on your own experience? Introduce him to Spark People! It's a lot less structured than what he's been doing, but has some great teams for maintaining! Seems to me he has a lot to offer to others, and the involvement here would help him transfer his focus without getting lost again - if that's what he thinks he might need. He might also decide to set some new goals - like getting BUFF. There's some great teams here for that, too!
    4635 days ago
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