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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yes, weight loss is like a journey. BUT the metaphor is misleading and can lead to regain.

Why? Because this is not a journey to some mountain top after which we get to say "I made it to the top of Fuji!" (or Kilimanjaro or Mt. Washington or whatever destination you choose) and get a T-shirt and go home.

This is not a journey like a race somewhere that you get to cross a finish line and say "Yay! I ran 26 miles!" (or rode 100 or my bike! or swam a mile! or whatever goal you choose) and get your medal and go home.


Because your destination IS HOME.

Let me repeat that.


In other words, this is not like a trip to some vacationland from which you plan on returning. Unless you really WANT to gain the weight back??? (You don't, do you? I sure don't.)


Your current location is a barren wasteland. Where you are uncomfortable with how things are. You are going to a happy place, of comfort. Things in this new place may be unfamiliar. You will have to make adjustments. But you are going there because you believe you will have a better life.


If you do not see your goal as your new home, you will surely not stay there. How can you?

I have no idea what a "normal" person eats. I guess that depends on your definition of "normal."

What a standard American eats will not keep the weight off, that's for sure. See this article for some numbers:

This came up because I found myself writing a novel-sized comment on a blog by SARA72121 that asked "Will I ever be able to eat like a normal person?"

Sara is very good at losing weight consistently. She rocked it in a recent "last one out" team challenge. I have tremendous respect for her abilities. And I'm re-posting my comment here as a blog topic in its own right, because I think it's important.

Maybe some of those people she sees are treating themselves and won't eat for the rest of the day. Maybe they're only taking two bites and leaving the rest on the plate. Maybe some of them are competitive swimmers and burn 12,000 calories in training per day. Maybe some of them are hyperthyroid and have a high basal metabolic rate.

I eat ice cream. I do. A kiddie-sized scoop in a hand-made waffle cone.

But I only do it once a month, only at the awesome place that makes their own that was written up in the NY Times, and I track it. Most of the people I see eating ice cream there are either obese or young (i.e. not yet obese). Some are just overweight. A few are healthy-looking.

But I know what I need to eat in order to keep my size at a happy place, and in the end I guess that's all that matters, because that's where I want to be.

If you don't think of a maintenance level and quality of food as "normal" then you will surely gain the weight back. I agree. And I've lived it, too. In my 20s I lost over 100 lbs and then gained it all back plus almost 100 more.

It doesn't matter what is "normal" for anyone else. What matters is MY new normal. The amount and type of food that fuels the activities I like to do and keeps me comfortable with how I feel. The amount and type of food that lets me stay "home."

Once I started seeing it that way fighting the occasional regain wasn't so onerous. I didn't feel like "Oh crap, here we go again. And I've already been there, so it's no longer novel or exciting."

Instead it was, "Oh man, I wanna go HOME again. where I can wear my favorite clothes again. Where I like how I feel and what I see in the mirror."

And that is the difference for me. It is subtle, but I think it's important.

I have to credit one of my spin instructors for explaining to me that she sees it that way. But once I got it, it really clicked. Maybe it will help you, too.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wonderful blog! What is normal anyway? I too have struggled with this too. I want to be like the American dream of having my cake and eating it too..... this doesn't work in reality.

    Who do I want to be? I need to define my "normal" - thanks for the inspiration!
    2578 days ago
    Great blog! I use a lot of stories to illustrate the change of mindset necessary to make this journeys lifestyle, and I love this one! I will be sharing it with my clients emoticon
    2578 days ago
    The journey has been long and difficult at times but I am going to make it HOME!

    Thanks for sharing this blog. It's another great one!

    2580 days ago
    Here's to the NEW NORMAL!
    2583 days ago
    Thank you! This blog should be on everyone's reading list. emoticon
    2583 days ago
    Wonderful blog! I will keep it in my mental file emoticon
    2585 days ago
    Awesome blog!
    emoticon emoticon
    2585 days ago
  • ANNE7X7
    I loooooove this blog!! So true! You really have to make it a permanent change. Learn to love new foods, new activities that involve the output of energy!
    2585 days ago
    Great blog!! You are sooo right!
    2587 days ago
    I have printed off your blog. It gives me hope that I can stop this yo-yo.
    2587 days ago
    Great blog! Normal is what normal is for me - not the masses, because the average person these days is overweight to some degree. I like your metaphor about relocating and you are right. When I hit goal, I didn't start back down the mountain. I built a cabin 'cause I plan to be here a while...
    2587 days ago
    yep you said it it really doesnt matter what all those other people eat cos they are not me and I have to do eat, burn , fight do whatever i need to do in order to get home, I'm not sure i have ever been home that is comfortable doing everything i need to do to be at home, plus my job and lifestyle make it difficult but im getting there, this weekend Im back on the protein shake, need to up my protein to build back the muscle.
    yay hope the shoulder is improving, my hammie is not stuck now comes the big job of stretching it and rebuilding the supporting muscle, oh and moving my baby gut that has developed, have a great weekend
    2590 days ago
  • SARA72121
    Wow I feel honored that I inspired a blog lol! Thank you so much for the kind words too. It's so nice to hear that other people respect you and think you're doing a good job!

    Everything you've said is so right. I know it's right too! I've just been having a moody week and watching a lot of food shows on the travel channel. I know I'll never be able to go back to eating the way I did. I just get frustrated sometimes. I still haven't learned how to eat unhealthy foods in a healthy way as a treat everyone once and a while.

    I guess my biggest frustration which I didn't really touch on in my blog is I still think about food all day every day. I'm not thinking about junk food anymore but I still feel obsessed and I guess my view of "normal" is not being so obsessed with my food whether it be unhealthy or healthy.

    Maybe the only way I'll ever be able to get to and maintain a normal weight is to be obsessed, I guess only the future will tell. I just hope that one day I can be more relaxed and not have to plan out every bite I take to maintain a healthy life!
    2590 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/17/2011 7:47:28 PM
    Great blog. You are spot on...we can never go back "home" if we want to enjoy the benefits of increased health and fitness...we have to create a new "home" and accept that there is no going back...I have not fully grasped this in the past and allowed myself to go back to old patterns of eating, well, because I "should" be able to (doesn't everyone?). Well, that's the piece that I really understand now, that is that, no, those people who are heatlhy, slim and fit don't call that "home" either (the old way of eating)...that's just a misconception based upon media input and on my own dysfunctional emotional eating needs...in the past I had it in my mind that eating well was a temporary punishment required to lose weight...now I get it that this is a way of life that all fit and healthy folks follow (with their own tweaking) and that its not personal but rather the facts of a different way of life...and if I want those benefits then I will need to follow it...its really that simple (but perhaps not easy!). Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this process.
    2591 days ago
    Great blog!!
    2591 days ago
  • BAM-MA
    So right! I am "home" as far as my lifestyle, but still getting acclimated (losing the weight). I do not look at it as a journey. The journey was getting down the techniques to the point of habit instead of as a goal to lose weight.

    I am now at a point where I can say that I will live this way for the rest of my life. I am definitely NOT on a diet.

    I have treats on occasion, I am stricter with intake sometimes, and less strict at other times. I work out REALLY HARD some weeks and less on other weeks. I live my life. I am still losing weight. I LOVE my new "home"!

    Great Blog!
    2591 days ago
    You are awesome. I love your take no prisoners approach to this not-a-journey. You rock. Seriously.

    I never say "I gave up smoking" because it sounds like it is something I want back in my life... I think it is the same kind of thing, it gives the wrong impression of what we are trying to accomplish.
    2591 days ago
    The difference is WAY MORE than subtle! Where I'm at is that I "get it" in my head, but have still to "get it" in my heart, in my being. So the struggle is still there.

    Love the metaphor, though and appreciate at least holding the thought and seeing if I can migrate it further down than my head! :-)

    2592 days ago
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