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Will Horton hear OUR Whos??? Maintainers ARE HERE.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

I was saddened to see a feature on the front page of SparkPeople.com today.


It is a feature that was written five years ago (the first comments date back to November 2007) listing 5 "secrets" of the "elusive" 5% of successful maintainers. Who "prefer to stay relatively unknown."

Although I am glad they recycle this column at all (at least it addresses maintenance), I am very sorry to hear that our At Goal and Maintaining team of 16,300 is practically invisible.

I am sorry that the community at SparkPeople.com are exposed to a 5-year old feature every six months that lists strategies with no scientific basis, and no links for people seeking additional help or information about maintenance. A feature that portrays maintainers as people who would prefer to stay in the shadows and keep to themselves. This is a disservice. We can do so much better.

Three weeks ago I burned a perfectly good vacation day off work that I would have preferred to spend kayaking so I could go on national TV (at SP's request) and advertise them and address maintenance.

That doesn't include the time it took to drive an hour each way to two different local affiliates to record the audio part of the segment, gas money for those trips and to the airport, not to mention airport parking fees, the cost of buying healthy meals in Manhattan, etc. The flight, transport between the airport and the hotel, and one night at a hotel were paid for.

Nor does this include the humiliation of having all those very unflattering "before" photos available to the world. On the internet. Forever. Post weight-loss discrimination exists, and I have exposed myself to it. See this reference if you do not believe me. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.

Yet I was glad to do all of this, because I think raising the visibility of maintenance is that important.

SparkPeople.com have said that they were very happy with the segment, and that lots of people have joined because of it.

It is just so very disappointing after all this to see SparkPeople.com now put up an old feature that says maintainers are invisible and secretive. What are we? Chopped liver?

Apparently so.

Thank God we maintainers have each other. Because sometimes it sure feels like we're all we've got.

At the very least I would like to see this feature updated with a link to the maintenance teams. Or a link to the somewhat dusty and self-contradictory "Maintaining Your New Weight" Lifestyle Center.

Many of us absolutely do NOT hide away in the shadows, forcing others to figure it out on their own, keeping our "secrets" to ourselves. We would like to help folks so that the statistics do not have to be so dismal, in the first place.

Our longest term maintainer, NELLJONES (41 years and counting), sticks around expressly for the purpose of helping the rest of us out.

I firmly believe that 5% success is the current stat with the current climate and resources and tools available. I think if we can build a supportive maintenance environment to prepare people for the issues they will be facing and help catch them when they fall, that we can change those statistics.

Heck, it helps me, just being able to see that other people are DOING IT day after day after day, for years, through good times and struggles, and hearing about how they feel and cope in the process.

Like those tiny little Whos no one believed existed on Horton's dust speck, perhaps we maintainers need to post comments on that feature, saying "WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE!"

Because a person is a person, no matter how small.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo EMILYDOODLE
    emoticon emoticon
    2608 days ago
    emoticon emoticon blog i like how you used Dr. Seuss story to get your point a cross emoticon
    2609 days ago
    It's the same with Weight Watchers, no real resources for maintainers. I went to WW meetings while at goal for years. People look at you askance, even glare at you, if you show up to a meeting at goal. Makes no sense.
    2609 days ago
    I just followed the link and read the article. Even though some of the strategies mentioned are correct, the contradiction of this article really draws the attention away from everything else! Elusive maintainers, more mysterious than the alien residents of Area 51 who actually... make it public??? What disappointed me even more was the fact that the article was written by Mike Kramer, whose articles are usually very carefully written and offering real-life motivation. I hope he was just trying to be dramatic...
    The more I read articles, blogs and posts in the "At Goal and Maintaining" team the more I realize the great job you've done on stressing the importance of maintenance and on helping to make this 5% a much bigger percentage. I believe we're not going to see a big difference in the way maintenance is dealt with in the future - and I really hope I'm proved wrong some day! So, I agree with you, we only have each other.
    But I think that's more than enough!
    2611 days ago
    We're getting things done and hopefully SparkPeople's management will wake up and see how important it is to make resources for maintainers a priority. Ninety-five percent of us should not have to be restarting this process again and again.
    2615 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/22/2013 12:18:22 PM
    Congrats on your progress!!

    JMO, I didnt read the article as negative at all. I think it starts out referring to most other 5%, because it goes on to say "At SparkPeople, I’ve witnessed a lot of these 5%ers in action. I wondered, what do they do differently than the rest of us?" and then it goes on to say what the SP 5% general do, with #1 being make it public.

    I think you guys are doing great, and I hope to be a member of the club some day. I have been there before, many moons ago... but didnt understand nutrition and what it takes to maintain. Now I do, so I know that once I get there, I will stay there!

    Congrats again!! emoticon
    2615 days ago
    Agreed. I'm loud about my maintenance, and very frank about what a struggle it is (it's harder than losing was). I have blogged and vlogged about it several times.

    I intend to stay loud. Knowledge and support are power. Spark needs to do more to harness that power, instead of leaving it to us few loud ones to carry by ourselves.

    This maintenance thing is WORK!
    2615 days ago
    so well said - before finding the team for maintainers, i had no idea such a "state" existed! and so many of us know about losing (after all, we've done it - again and again - which is why we are back on SP, again and again) but do not even realize that maintaining also requires work! the same competitive nature to lose can be applied to the desire to maintain, to be among the 5% - if people only knew about it! i'm so glad i found the At Goal and Maintaining team - because this time, i'm going to make it!
    2615 days ago
  • SH9719
    There is such a focus on stats. Each maintainer is important whether they be quiet or vocal. I think that knowing there are successful maintainers out there may help the soon to be maintainers. I think that a lot of us who are thinking ahead worry that all we are doing will be wasted by losing it after we succeed. (I have succeeded twice. Once over 70 lbs.) Each time I lost my focus and rolled back up. Knowing ahead that there are good maintenance plans eases the worry and keeps the momentum for the journey.
    2616 days ago
    5% sure is low... but im glad your bringing this to our attention...I agree with you.
    I lost and gained all my life. Never figured out how to maintain....Hopefully one day I will..
    2616 days ago
  • DOTTY7267
    2617 days ago
    I'm not to the maintaining stage yet and I'm not sure how exactly I stumbled across your blog, but I'm so glad that I did. You're so inspirational. And you got to be on tv, how exciting!! I watched your new story (via the link provided). I think it's excellent that you're here to show people that maintenance is possible. emoticon Thank you for sticking around to help the rest of us out. (And I love your Dr. Seuss reference. emoticon )
    2617 days ago
    Where I think you're on the right track is--so it's 5% now, but what if we all got together and changed the climate so that it would be higher? And so here we are, trying to build that supportive environment. Yes, indeed.
    2617 days ago
    I failed to maintain the first time around.....dropped 80 and within 2 years gained back 50. I am on my way back down to a healthy BMI and NOW i know where to find help on Spark when i get to maintenance again!
    2618 days ago
    This is a message that needs to be repeated and repeated and repeated until it's heard loud and clear. Thanks for leading the charge to CHANGE the stats for people maintaining; SparkPeople really is uniquely positioned to help do that.
    2618 days ago
    The secretive part is just creative license to make the opening line tantalizing. Later the writer contradicts that when he says, "The 5% generally don’t keep their weight loss efforts to themselves." LOL!

    While the article may be old, it's concise and informative, "new" to those who have never read it before and the tips are 100% on the money.
    2618 days ago
    I am so happy to be part of the At Goal and Maintaining team because of the support and education I get from you and the other members. Thanks!

    - 5% wannabe (3 months maintaining)
    2618 days ago
    2620 days ago
    Thx for keeping on with the hollering needed to give maintenance the attention which is so badly needed! LOTSA folks are hearing and hoping Horton will too in time! :-)

    2620 days ago
  • MKELLY72
    I think I had read that article when it was featured once before and thought it was negative, so I have not re-visited it either.
    I'm pretty new at maintenance and agree that it is tricky- I had yo-yoed in the past, so I'm always afraid to let my guard down now.
    I stick around, because I love to help out anyone I can, and the positive feedback I get from others also helps me to stay grounded and continue to successfully maintain.
    Thank you for all that you share!
    2620 days ago
    I read the article and although it is old, I still found it a useful reminder of where I want to be.
    You should be very happy because you are part of the Spark Team that the rest of us would most hope to eventually join!! Certainly the Success Stories on this site have been a major inspiration for many of us.
    Since I'm not there yet, I can't say I've been aware of the lack of information and support for those in maintenance. I do hope that SP addresses this before I get there, so thanks for getting the word out.

    2621 days ago
  • NAVYMOM133
    I am on the "At Goal and Maintaining" team and recently joined the "50+ Maintaners" (though I don't turn 50 till this Sunday - sshh). It is PRECISELY due to these teams that I was able to say I've maintained for one year last month.

    I've seen that article several times since I joined in 2008, and it is a disservice to us.

    emoticon Sparkpeople, take note! Provide something for your base of maintainers, if not at the very least some credit and pointers to valuable teams!!
    2621 days ago
    Thanks for posting this and I truly hope Spark Guy gets your message. First of all, the article is outdated and so many people have been maintaining their weight loss since then so why not give us more, fact based, updated information along with, as you pointed out, a link to those maintaining groups. I will admit that I find after those that lose the weight and become maintainers, it is hard to find some of you. It seems they either leave Spark altogether or just stop sharing. I don't know why it seems this way or if some maintainers feel that they are no longer needed when in deed they are.

    I am no where near where I want to be so people who are struggling with me are great to have around but I want some one around in the end, during my maintenance as well.
    2621 days ago
    Well said, 4A!

    Being in the 5% since 1988, it's been a struggle, and you're right the resources out there are slim to none...pardon the pun! but you've really contributed a great deal to the resources available to me and the rest of us in the maintenance sphere, at least here on Spark!

    2621 days ago
  • NANCY-
    Hooray for you! I want to be one of your Who's.
    MAINtaining a healthy lifestyle is the ultimate goal for me and your being here made me aware of that when I reach my weight goal, a journey of maintenance begins. There is no going back to what was or the weight would return.
    You and other in your group have inspired me to make changes not just to lose weight but to make healthy changes for life.
    2621 days ago
  • 62NVON
    You are my hero, girl! I found out the hard way that I need the support of other people who are maintaining. We need support as much if not more than those in losing mode!
    2621 days ago
    It is generally a terrible article in that it provides generic advice with some contradictions and that wonderful "secret" moniker that is far too common when dispensing "information" about diet and exercise. So they lead off by saying that the 5% are hiding and then they say "The 5% generally don’t keep their weight loss efforts to themselves.". So which is it?

    Anyway, I think it's safe to say that we're truly blazing the trail on the maintainers group. I think the success will come to light at some point.
    2621 days ago
    You know, I saw that article and thought......seriously, why be so negative??
    I didn't even read it because it seemed like the premise was such a downer.
    Usually Spark is not that way. To me maintenance is extremely important.
    I read many entries about people that have lost a whole bunch/get to goal weight and then regain it all, sometimes more. If they would have maintained, they would NOT have done the yo-yo thing. Maintenance is tricky, I think. There is less margin for error.
    2621 days ago
  • _LINDA
    Well said and thank you for putting yourself out there once again. Spark asks you to do this, and yet doesn't update that old article to reflect this dynamic team of maintainers??? Seems like we should flood Spark Team's or Spark Guy's page with requests to put this team in the mainstream and start working up current information about keeping the weight off. They certainly have the talented staff writers and guests to do it!! Thanks for doing all you can to promote maintaining as being vital too, not just the weight loss! You rock!!!!
    2621 days ago
    I found the article a bit odd actually. It implies that there is some "prized secret to a healthy lifestyle". That sounds more like the mindset we get from people who see others succeeding, ask the secret, then look disappointed (and disbelieving) to hear "eat proper portions" and "be more physically active".

    The secrets aren't even part of the maintaining step as they read. The first, for example, about "Make it public" is talking about being public about "weight loss efforts".

    They are still good pointers, but don't really say much about maintainers. It would be nice to see more publicity for all those who maintain and how long they have.
    2621 days ago
    You are such an inspiration to me!
    2621 days ago
    emoticon emoticon I saw one of the interviews and was clapping at home for you! You were awesome!
    2621 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/12/2012 9:14:45 PM
    2621 days ago
    I see your point, I appreciate all you have been doing to advocate for maintainers. I am not there yet, but I will be. When I get there I hope I find the strength to be just as vocal!
    2621 days ago
    I am a new reader to your blog but I appreciate your advocacy for a very underrepresented group. I can understand your disappointment with Spark. Is there anyone you can mention this to?

    Well, YOU ARE APPRECIATED! Thank you for everything you do.
    2621 days ago
    Well written. I too do not wish to be invisible or elusive. That wouldn't help me or others. I'd likely be right back to where I started if I chose that route.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2621 days ago
    You are so right!! We count! We are not in the shadows!!! SparkPeople made it possible for me. That IT was not weight loss, it was MAINTENANCE, something I've never achieved before.

    Thank you so much for your strong voice, your strong logic and research abilities, and your generous leadership. We are very lucky to have you lead our team!!

    Hope you get a Popular Blog Award!!
    2621 days ago
    Great blog!
    2621 days ago
    Fantastic blog! It's generous of you in the extreme to continue all of your services -- above and beyond your fantastic TV appearance -- this stale ol' article has to be a bit of a downer. I can join you in saying: I don't prefer to be "elusive" or "invisible" or "unknown" either. Sing it out loud, we should be proud.

    Although gotta say, I sympathisize with your hesitation in putting "before" pictures out there: there is indeed prejudice against the overweight even including the formerly overweight.

    You've done such a great job promoting "maintainers" and providing so much detailed and current and scientific information in so many excellent blogs. You've been incredibly innovative as team leader of At Goal and Maintaining, building motivation in many different ways.

    The commercial weight loss sites don't promote maintaining: possibly because their business plan depends upon recidivism.

    I'd love to see that 5% figure for maintainers multiplied by 10 x at least! I'd love to see the majority of those who do the hard hard work of taking it off learn the skills necessary to KEEP it off, permanently.

    I'd love to see SP become the leader in weight loss maintenance research/promotion/support.

    Because MAINtenance is the main thing: it has to be, to sustain the health benefits and the social benefits and the psychological benefits of the weight loss victory!
    2621 days ago
  • 1EMMA2011
    I feel as though you should have been reimbursed for expenses on your trip. Thank you for speaking up and being a beacon of hope for those of us still trying to get to the point where you are. emoticon
    2621 days ago
    2621 days ago
    2621 days ago
    And no matter how long we've been SMALL! Well written. Let's all "like" it and make it a featured blog!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2621 days ago
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