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Maintaining is easy for me now - the concept of maintaining needs some thought

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This is not the first time I've had these thoughts so for anyone who has read this before I apologize in advance and hope to be adding something new this time around. These thoughts about maintenance come around every couple of months, usually prompted by reading about weight maintenance somewhere, sometimes by the concept of maintaining in another arena of life: fitness, health, finances, knowledge, relationships etc.
On the surface it seems like maintaining is a good thing, definitely better than going downhill (whatever the hill is) and probably also better than going uphill too fast.
But still, maintaining sounds an awful lot like stagnating, which sounds an awful lot like stale which sounds a lot less desirable and possibly very boring and even harmful.
When it comes to maintenance of weight most people don't really mean just weight. They often assume that health and fitness are included and related. They may even think emotional/mental health as part of the package. The reason is that many people feel overall healthier and happier when they lose a significant amount of excessive body weight/body fat. While losing is improvement, not just maintaining the status quo, maintaining means staying the same. But don't we always want to improve?
So how does someone who reaches their goal weight continue to improve? Maybe they will set a new goal weight, a little lower than they previously thought reasonable or possible. But at some point weight loss is no longer desirable and healthy. So what to do next? Just staying in the same place? Is some of the difficulty of weight maintenance due to the fact that weight loss is a MAJOR LIFE GOAL, sometimes life saving, that takes a huge amount of attention and energy and can give us a long-term focus and purpose. It can be somewhat like raising children. While they are at home they are all-consuming, taking first priority a lot of the time, sometimes to the detriment of other important aspects of life. When the kids are raised and ready to leave the nest, there is an emptiness, a lack of purpose and a lack of focus for a while. This may not be a lack of goals and desires at all, but mostly an emotional state that is brought about by the change. The goals may be there but the desire to reach for them may still be lacking. Maybe we feel that we deserve a long break and treat ourselves well (not always in healthy ways).
So how do we get from that phase in life to the next one, one of being passionate about new goals, new purposes, new joy in life?
For me it has to do with giving to others, sharing what I have learned, being an example when I can be, sharing my struggles to make it easier for others to accept their own.
Weight maintenance is no longer a goal for me, no more than maintaining a regular exercise routine. It has become a natural part of me, in a different way than for someone else as we are all different. It does not require conscious planning and thought any more. It is as natural as driving my car without thinking about pushing the gas pedal and break pedal down, turning the steering wheel right and left or turning turn signals on and off. I am now teaching my 15-year-old daughter the principles of healthy eating just like I will teach her how to drive a car in the coming year. Teaching someone else will bring those things that I do naturally now back into my conscious mind where I reflect upon them again, maybe tweaking small things here and there. But I feel free to go where I want to go. And that freedom is what it is really all about. I had it to start with and now I have gained it back, knowing that I will never lose it again. emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Interesting that you find maintenance to sound like stagnation. Just keeping the weight steady for me is a lot more like MOBYCARP's analogy of trying to keep a boat in the same place in the face of changing winds and currents. It seems to require tweaking and adjustment due to unexpected illnesses, injuries, and just life in general intervening.

    Here's his whole blog about that, in case you want to see it:

    Maybe I'm just a slow learner, or something. I definitely can't do the intuitive eating thing like you do. I've tried that experiment over and over with exactly the same result every time. Regain.
    2075 days ago
    I'm actually quite excited to be only two pounds away from figuring out how to maintain! What I'm hoping for, is that as I continue to increase my fitness, I'll actually gain a few pounds of muscle, lose a few more pounds of fat, and end up qualifying for a few more calories. :D
    2076 days ago
    Well said!
    2076 days ago
    If losing weight is your only goal in life then you're probably lost once you get there.
    In my experience there are a lot of things you have to work through on this journey in order to get to your goal weight. Not having to put all my energy into working on losing weight leaves a lot more room to enjoy the fun things that I have discovered on my journey.
    Maintaining weight does not mean your life is in a holding pattern. There is always room to improve and grow in a million other areas. It still takes planning, discipline, and determination and is every bit as exciting as seeing the scale go down.
    2076 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/15/2012 11:53:04 AM
    I have a long way to go to get to maintenance level myself, but I totally understand what you mean. One of the great things about being involved in a community like SparkPeople is that there will always be new members (and old ones too!) who need help/advice/support and what-have-you.

    I've sometimes thought it was odd that Suzanne has been here so long even though she's been at goal weight and fitness for 8 years or so. Lately I've started to understand it more. Checking in daily keeps her accountable and motivated, as well as motivating others. Hope I can keep my Spark for half as long!
    2076 days ago
    congrats on progressing! great thoughts...and good luck with having a kiddo start the driving process-how exciting:)
    2076 days ago
  • KELLY122581
    Interesting. I was just thinking about this the other day. I think this is where I went wrong last time in "maintaining". I lost 40+ lbs and maintained for about 3 years, but there was no challenge anymore... no "goals" in sight, so it slowly slipped away until I gained all 40 lbs +some back in about 2 years. This time around, I'm planning to have more goals already in place once I get to my goal weight. Since I've added running to my weight loss plan now, I'll have a built-in set of goals... train for a 10K, a half marathon, etc.... I'm also thinking of becoming a certified yoga instructor so that (like you mention) I can work at teaching other people what I've learned. Thanks for the thoughts!!! They helped me organize a little bit of what I was already thinking for myself :-)
    2076 days ago
    Interesting thoughts, thank you for sharing!
    I agree that most people need new goals to keep them motivated.

    Though I myself and a totally uncompetitive person, for me it is a completely satisfactory goal to maintain my goal weight and fitness level lifelong.
    After rolling downhill for years and imagining where that lifestyle would have brought me,
    now I'm happy with maintaining my healthy lifestyle. Some of my Spark Friends are in their fifties or sixties, happy and active in their healthy and fit bodies - I love to think I can do it too! : ))

    2076 days ago
    Hey Birgit,

    Very thought provoking. My first thought is staying at the same weight doesn't mean stagnation - I am not there yet, but I suspect when I do get there, my next goal(s) will be to continually become healthier - maybe more stretching, or more ST, or more meditation.

    Your right our lives and bodies are dynamic, there is no such thing as staying in the same place, we are either moving forward or backward. I want to continue progressing.
    2076 days ago
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