Excerpt from a Sparkmail I sent to a friend. So many questions about this scary maintenance

Friday, February 04, 2011

I've been maintaining for 6 months now. I had hoped it would be becoming second nature by now. In some ways it is, but in other ways it is just as scary. I've been having kind of an ongoing discussion with a spark friend who has also reached the maintenance level. Some days we have more questions than answers. Since the first of the year, I've been up a couple and down a couple of pounds over and over. Have upped the fitness minutes, but that hasn't seemed to have the effect it did when I was battling to get the last few pounds off last July.

Here's an excerpt from my note a few minutes ago:

"I've been thinking of blogging this, but not sure how I want to go at it yet. Don't want it to come off whiny when so many people struggle just to lose at all. Don't want to seem that way to you, either. Just last week I tell you I'm determined, and now I'm waffling. I'm in uncharted territory here--never maintained a weight loss this long before, and I still have questions. I guess from here on out it's really an experiment in life. So, here goes:

#1 I want to feel fit and healthy.

#2 I want to stay in all these clothes I've bought. :)

#3 I'd like to stay b/t 135 and 138, unless I could ever go lower EASILY.

So on to my dilemma:

#1 I have gotten to where I like working out, but I don't want to have to kill myself. Today, I am a little sore in the arms and shoulders, but I would have been regardless, since I had to do that (shoveling) for work yesterday. The shape I'm now in allows me to do that job much more easily. However, my glutes are rather sore today too, and I see that as a result of more walking/running than usual this week, esp. this morning. And I was uncontrollably hungry last night. If that's from extra workout minutes, no thank you. (Not sure how to tell, though) .

#2 Nobody knows what the scale says unless I tell them. It's my own vanity that wants to keep under 140. But on the other hand, would I be I deluding myself that 140 is okay? Is accepting that a license to start creeping upwards? Other than going to a bod pod somewhere, is the fit of my clothes the only way to determine if I'm building muscle and not losing control? I guess that should be enough, but somehow this is all scary. I've come too far to lose any ground now.

#3 Am I over-analyzing all this? Do I just need to relax? If I relax, I could lose my grip. Am I just a big control freak?"

So now, Sparkies, esp. maintainers, I'm asking you. How do you know you're where you're supposed to be? How do you tell if you're building a little muscle, or if you are starting to lose control? Do you "fight" to stay in the range you selected for yourself? And how much leeway do you give yourself before you start fighting? I thought after 6 months I'd be over the questions. I think I may be getting more confused.

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    You wrote this a while back, but I just stumbled upon it. If you've read any of my blogs, you know how obsessed and worried I am about maintaining. I am still 5 lbs. from my goal, and have been worrying about maintaining for the last 40 or 50 lbs. I think! I have never maintained a weight loss at all! Not for longer than 10 minutes or so! I simply canNOT regain this weight again, I'm getting too old to lose it all again! The fact that you have maintained for a few months is like a gold standard to me. I am pretty sure that I am going to have to continue to log every bite that goes in my mouth and keep up with the walking. In other words, change very little from what I have been doing to lose weight! I went to an Italian brunch/buffet yesterday and practiced extreme restraint. I had eaten only a banana for breakfast, got to the buffet about 3 p.m., completely starved! This was out of my control, or I never would have done something like this. I ate a big plate of salad first, but they had no diet dressing, so I just tried to go light on the dressing they had. Then I had one small piece of thin crust barbecue chicken pizza, one piece of bacon, a little bit (1/4 cup or so) of an egg/potato casserole, and about 1/4 cup of spaghetti with another 1/4 cup of meat sauce. I also ate two dill pickle spears, and one spoonful of the bread pudding on my husband's plate. I guess-timated the whole thing at about 600 calories. I thought to myself, how would I have eaten differently at that buffet, if I had been on maintenance, and I realized I should eat exactly the same. No more huge plates of food of all kinds for me. I could have easily eaten a big plate of spaghetti with meat sauce--I LOVE pasta! But I have to be content with a little taste like that from now on. I'm pretty sure (when I look in the mirror and admire my weight loss) that I can live like this--at least I hope so. You are giving me an example of how it can be done, and I know it's going to be a struggle. My brother, who has maintained a 50-lb. loss for over 20 years has already told me that everyday is a struggle. But it's worth the struggle!
    2621 days ago
  • NLS2013
    You are doing great! Thanks for blogging this. Very good observations! emoticon
    2635 days ago
    Great Blog and Great Comments on the blog.

    One thought would be this: We never agonize about brushing our teeth each day or bathing or things like that -- why -- because we have decided they are "part" of our life.

    A healthy lifestyle - nutrition and exercise tracking need to be like that to us also -- just part of the daily routine, not overly important, not neglected, just part of our day, everyday, no questions or angst required.

    Keep up the good work - you are doing fine!

    emoticon you are doing: emoticon
    2664 days ago
    There's a reason your maintenance weight range is 5 lbs - it's because there is no way to stay at one weight for the rest of your life. Well, I guess it is possible, but I've been told by people who were never overweight that it is going to fluctuate.

    Is it easier? Easier than what? It is easier to maintain than it was to carry around an extra 95 pounds on a daily basis.

    How do you know where you're supposed to be? I was advised to go as low as my body could handle. I was told I would know if I went too low - dizzy, nausea - my body would tell me.

    How do you tell if you're building a little muscle, or if you are starting to lose control? I can't answer the muscle part but I continue to track my foods & fitness daily. I use the Daily Calorie Differential in Reports to see if I am on track.

    Do you "fight" to stay in the range you selected for yourself? And how much leeway do you give yourself before you start fighting? I give myself 3 pounds leeway before I "freak-out" and get back on track. While I am having a little trouble explaining my range - 120 is the point of freaking out. Last year I took off an additional 5 lbs just for this reason. Winter is tough and the average person will put on 3-5 lbs (not scientific, just what I have read in blogs).

    According to the charts my "Ideal Weight" is 117 but I went down to 115 for the extra buffer. *grin* and it sounded nice to say 95 lbs lost instead of 93 lbs lost. *giggle*

    Back to your first question, how do you know you're where you're supposed to be?
    So many people told me that I was too low so I just asked my doctor. He had only one question for me. "Linda, are you still walking 3+ miles daily?" When I told him my average was now 5+ he said to me, "go for it!" The doctor said that anyone who can walk 5+ miles daily is not underweight.

    This year I decided to relax and enjoy it! Freak out at 120, but enjoy anything below that.

    If you lost it, you CAN maintain it!
    2665 days ago
  • REDSHOES2011
    1. make friends with exercise- I strength train 3 times a week max. I do a 3 days split, so chest, shoulders and abs monday, legs and butt wednesday and then back, arms and abs friday.. No more no less.. I am pushing 46 and need more rest between days- this is no reflexion I am weaker- it is just I don't want repetition injuries and being sore all the time can cover up these starting without me realising..
    2. I fit my clothing and have put on 5kgs, I have a non existing waist and have added these 5 kgs to my upper body- my arms are now suiting to my well developed legs, so I use more time on my upper body.. I am eating around 2400 calories when I am doing my job cardio and my body building.. I have lost half my body weight so I also have to avoid going to low weight wise because of issues with excuse skin.. My skin hangs more now because I simple don't have any body fat.. So my ticker tape is my maintenance range- not my total body weight loss..
    3. Fact is I have to log my food, my exercise and my thoughts to keep myself a sober foodaholic.. I am a maverick because I put my foot down and decide exactly what I eat.. I don't change for people visiting me from out of town- what they eat is their business- they get the message long before turning up I don't do restuarant meals anymore.. I have a unhappy relationship with Gerd when I am not in control of my kitchen and cooking.. I have scared people to death at a wedding putting my allergies foods in dishes.. So I am honest with people, if people try to pressure me I have my before photo tucked in my calendar diary- most people show compassion when they have seen my previous size.. I have learned to do this journey alone, I am pushing 10 years and no one around me has stood the test of time supporting me.. I am holding the trim line because of sheer stubborn will never to be 300lbs again and a small promise over my husbands coffin to my now teenage boys..

    Good luck, a lifestyle change should weave into your life without being a drag.. I cook ahead of time, my next days meal and extra if place in my fridge and freezer.. I use colours and textures and spices plus make food eye candy resturant style.. I don't give up coffee or diet cola- because I try to moderate stuff to keep my life fitting in with normal things like coffee visits and eating with other peoples families.. I ask the host what they are serving and say I will bring my own- they don't get upset and are actually relieved with my food allergies I am covered..

    I had to walk away from dinners with my 7th day adventist church family.. They are vegans and vegetarian and many of the products cause total chaos with my stomach and to some degree with my youngest son.. I just don't have the nerve to take meat dishes to my church dinners.. I am tired of food police..

    Good luck finding equalibium- It is funny trying to fit in and keep fitting in.. When people say we told you about the dinner why did you bring your food- I think efter many times explaining this is my way of making sure I have a security net.. I don't do cheat meals well they make me feel mentally crappy off- and when people say roll with it once in a while I say at home whom with-My family and folks are all thin fat people, they rolled too much.. My kids and I sit alone at christmas my family is all dead and buried..

    2665 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/5/2011 8:27:57 AM
    A great set of questions for maintainers! I find the hardest thing to maintain is not so much the exercise or the nutrition... but the motivation TO maintain!

    I think of it as maintaining healthy habits. Maintaining functional fitness... which you refer to when you say shoveling was easier because you are fit. I revel in those aspects of being fit and healthy! Power outage in the office building? Have to take the stairs to the tenth floor? No problem! A foot of snow and your snow blower is broken down? No problem! Car in the shop and need to walk four miles to pick it up? No problem! If being able to function in life is important to you, it can fuel that motivation.

    As for the monitoring? I have a little book by my bathroom scale. It is a maintenance log. Each day I record weight, today's plan. At the end of the day, I record whether I followed the plan or not. End of the week it asks me to record three things - biggest challenge, biggest triumph, and reminder for next week. I do have a "happy range" on the scale, as you do... and when I get toward the top of it, I dial it in... and when I get toward the bottom of it, I pay attention, too... don't want to fall off the healthy range in the OTHER direction.

    I still log my food. I still log my exercise. But most important to my own desire to maintain... I keep coming to Spark and reading blogs like yours, and reminding myself just why being healthy and fit is important to me. Hang the number on the scale... can I live the active life I need to?

    - Barb
    2665 days ago
    Becky I reckon maintaining can be as hard as you want to make it.
    If you weigh in once a week, eat sensibly and moderate your exercise to a level YOU are happy with that's it.
    I choose to have stenuous workouts some of the time because I have a love affair with Mr N Dorpine, and I strive to have stronger muscles so I push the envelope on my ST. You'll find your level.
    I know now the foods I enjoy-and the portions I can handle safely.
    I keep to healthy eating 99% of the time purely because I feel so much better for it.
    My advice is; don't stress over your food, enjoy what you eat and do it for you.
    If,,,,and I do mean IF you gain you have the tools to lose that gain now thanks to the knowledge you've built up using SP.
    Just be consistant! emoticon emoticon
    2665 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/5/2011 7:26:55 AM
    Funny, I was thinking about maintenance just this morning. I was thinking that SP is so cool...because it teaches us that it's all about calories in/calories out. And when we want to lose, create a deficit in the calories in/calories out equation. And when we want to maintain, we just have to find the balance in the calories in/calories out equation. So, if that is true, you should be able to do a consistent amount of exercise and stay at a consistent calorie range and maintain. If your weight is going up, then that is a signal that you want to move the calorie range down or increase the exercise, or both. I know people dog the scale...but it is the simplest way for us to measure, I think. I don't dog it. It helps me. It gives me a clear number depicting where I'm at.

    I hope that helps some. Since I'm not a maintainer yet, I may be totally wrong. I'm obviously not speaking from experience. But it is what I have figured would be the scenario when I get there. You are doing great. You are always there and encouraging and I really appreciate you for that. I hope that you find the answers you are looking for to help you with your maintenance concerns. Spark on! emoticon
    2666 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/4/2011 9:56:35 PM
    I am thinking, at least at this moment, that maintaining is never going to be a straight line. But a wave. Water weight, time of day, a special event, easy exercise days, or killers... in other words life affects it all.

    So if it is in waves; when the wave is a little high, no worries. When it's a valley, that's ok too.

    For all I know it can be party affected by the position of the moon or a surge of gravity in your bathroom by the scales...

    But I am pretty sure it will never be a straight line.
    2666 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/4/2011 6:17:00 PM
    Thanks so much, gals! You don't know how much I appreciate you all. I just don't want to let myself or you down! I'll keep plugging along, and try to relax a little. And yes, I want you all joining me on this side. You all deserve it!
    2666 days ago
  • MISSM66
    I wish I have the answer for you I only have a few pounds to reach my Goal and I an struggling with it last week I was down two pounds,this week I am up one pound, it's like zig zag,but don't give up I am not going to give up either,some people telling me that I don't need to loose any more including my Husband,but I know my body and what I am comfortable with,so don't stop just keep going at it,Good Luck emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2666 days ago
    You are amazing! You will figure this out and it will become old hat eventually. I'm going to join you in the maintaining group in 12-18 months. :)
    2666 days ago
    If I knew the answers, I wouldn't be trying to get this weight off...AGAIN! I've never been good at maintaining...I think because losing is so much more "exciting" than maintaining. I'm to the point where I really don't care what the scale says. I can see in the mirror if I'm gaining, and I use my clothes as a true measure of where I am. Sometimes I get curious and get on the scale, but since I know I'm building muscle and my clothes fit well, I don't worry if the scale is up or down.

    In general, my wonderful friend, I think you are the epitomy of success. I do think you need to relax a little and enjoy how wonderful you look and feel. The knowledge may be slow in coming, but I think you are learning, little by little, what you need to do to maintain.

    You are an inspiration to many! emoticon
    2666 days ago
    I know you are looking For the "maintainers" to reply, but I just had to, and what I have to say is, I THINK YOU ARE DOING SO GREAT. you have become, in my little heart, a role model, someone I aspire to be. A maintainer, a "been there, done that" person. I can't wait to see/hear/learn what others share with you as SP is a sharing place.
    If I was to give you a piece of advice (unasked for), I would tell you to follow your heart. It's what got you started, and it will see you through.
    Bless you Becky

    2666 days ago
    Oy - I wish I had answers for you. I maintained my 150+ pound loss for a year...and then I got pregnant. However, I will say that those couple months before I got pregnant I was moving upward. I think maintaining is way harder than losing. Sorry, but I do. When you're losing, you have people constantly cheering you on. When you're maintaining, the cheering is gone.

    Anyway, knowing that everyone is different, I would still have to believe that there comes a point in time when you just know - through trial and error - what you need to do in order to maintain your losses. You learn just how much exercise you need to do, how many calories you need to eat, and how to reign yourself back in if you happen to get a little out of control.

    Best of luck to you, love. I have no doubts you'll find your way. Try to relax a little bit with regard to your expectations and as you've told me more than once - take it one day at a time, and do what you can. That's about all you can do. (((HUGS)))

    - Michelle
    2666 days ago
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