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"Dark days" in maintenance

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bull's eye!
The number on the scale is finally right. What you've been eagerly awaiting, what you've been working for is a reality at last. Nothing could make you happier. You feel your work from now on is like a walk in the park. You managed to shed all those pounds. How much more difficult could it be to keep them away?

After all, you're prepared! You have a brand new set of eating habits and plenty of fitness activities that you enjoy doing. You've managed to deal with binges and emotional eating successfully and you have your strategies ready for all the temptations that will be thrown your way.
You feel you have it all figured out. Being overweight or obese is a thing of the past.

When suddenly - actually not so suddenly but that's what it feels like - things take a wrong turn. The scale starts going up...

And this triggers a series of attitudes that I'm sure many of you will recognize as the lead-in part to the sad story of weight regaining.

First, it's self-reassurance. "Oh, come on. There's nothing to worry about. I'm doing everything right. I'm sure my next weigh-in will be back to normal." And we rest assured. No action.

Then, there's denial. "It can't be my fault. I haven't been overeating or anything like that. I can't have gained weight just because I inhaled the smell over the freshly-baked cookies!!! There must be another reason. Maybe water retention!" And we find something else to put the blame on. Still no action.

After that comes confession. "The truth is I didn't just smell the cookies, I tried one. Or was it two? Now that I think about it, I ate half of them in front of the TV! And that pizza we ordered that night, I just couldn't eat just one piece!" And suddenly the memories come back. And the realization hits hard!

At this point, two things could happen.
The first one is panic. We want to fix everything and we want it done fast. We maximize our cardio activities and we starve ourselves hoping that the scale will go back where it was. And this starts an endless vicious circle of deprivation to over-indulgence and vice versa. And little by little, day by day, wrong choice by wrong choice, the pounds creep back up.

I know this sounds frightening but most of us have been there and have felt the despair of this experience. Thankfully, things can be different.

We take full responsibility for our actions. We can't keep up trying to find someone or something to blame - unless of course there is a medical reason present, in which case we should talk to our doctor. What we put in our mouths, though, is something we have full control over. A number of reasons, different for everyone, led us to the wrong path. But we are still in control and that's what we have to realize.
WE decide when this stops. A little damage was done. Shall we undo it or make it bigger? Our choice!

I am currently at those dark days of maintenance. The ones when you realize you're not maintaining anymore but you've started gaining. The damage is still small. I can sit around pretending that nothing happened and wait for the situation to resolve itself in a magical way. I can start blaming everything and everyone around me, like my stressful life, my mom's delicious cooking, the holidays' delicacies which have started making an appearance or my new intense fitness program which mistakenly led me to believe I could eat more of anything.
Or I can accept my responsibility, assess the damage and strike back. Reverse the process and correct everything.

I choose the latter. And if you're dealing with something similar, I encourage you to do the same.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon blog and you hit the nail on the head. That is why I am on a no dessert streak. I can't eat just one.
    1998 days ago

    You totally nailed how I've been all week !
    And most of November !

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    Have a Thrilling Thursday

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    1998 days ago
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    1999 days ago
  • MISSB8604
    Seriously fantastic blog. Thank you, as this is exactly what I needed to hear.
    1999 days ago
    Wow. Thanks. This is exactly what's been going on with me.
    1999 days ago
    Great blog. I am not yet at maintenance, but have done the gain, up and down and up and down again. It isn't pretty. Have about 15 lbs to go and I'll be there. May be looking to you for some guidance?? emoticon
    1999 days ago
    Oh how I wish I would have read your blog this time last year! It is a slippery slope! But you are right, we can control what we put in our mouths! emoticon
    1999 days ago
  • FIREFLY4407
    Thank you for sharing your Spark !! Perfect timing as I am trying very hard to stay on track (ok - maybe get back on track would be more accurate). emoticon
    2000 days ago
    Oh! Elle, your blog is what I need this day!!
    Things go wrong and what I am reading makes me to think that it is hard but I can do it!
    Thank you very much!!
    2003 days ago
    Thank you SO MUCH for this!!! I definitely needed to read this! I feel much better! Today is going to ROCK!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2005 days ago

    Excellent blog! When we take responsibility for our actions, we also assume the power to make needed changes.
    2005 days ago
  • KANOE10
    I like your dark days of maintenance..and your honesty. We are still maintaining even when we slip and struggle. This is the reality of maintenance, continually working on being accountable.

    Great blog. emoticon
    2005 days ago
    Awesome blog. So thankful for SparkPeople. The journey is not the same as before with so many helpful inspiring people like you.
    2006 days ago
    Ahhhh! You're reading my mind! (And my scale) thanks for writing and sharing. I needed this today.
    2006 days ago
    Great bkig! And Mr. Maxwell probably has a point about women too!!
    2006 days ago
    Isn't it funny--I always think others are maintaining perfectly and I'm the only one who struggles. It's so wonderful that you can share the truth that so many of us face. How is it that we expect to change a lifetime of habits and choices and never falter....ah, human nature. We will always have choices and we we will learn from them and improve.
    2006 days ago
    Super blog, Elle! I think this happens to almost all of us at some point after we hit goal. Taking responsibility for our slips and correcting them as quickly as we can is what makes the difference between continuing the perpetual cycle of yo-yo dieting and remaining a successful maintainer. I think this is why it's so helpful to have a maintenance range rather than a specific number as a goal. Not only is it unrealistic and incredibly frustrating to stay exactly at the same number, but having a range also helps you to identify trends over time. If I see one where I'm continually inching up in my range, I know it's time to take action. That was starting to happen to me after my summer vacation--I went from the lower end of my range to the mid-to-upper end so I decided enough was enough and that I had to buckle down and get back under my midpoint before the holidays set in. I am determined to stay in that range and not become a weight regain casualty ever again.

    Thanks for addressing this issue so thoroughly. I'm sure it will help a lot of people and I hope everyone who reads this blog will 'like' it.
    2006 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/27/2012 7:16:11 PM
    What a great blog. Thanks for sharing !! I am with you on this one. My weakness was not cookies but brownies.:) oh yeah, pizza too. Lol)) But since I started my health journey, I become much stronger and smarter to avoid those my weakness. I am so glad that I feels like finally I work up from illusion and nightmare of being fat and obese. I realized it is not worth it to go back unhealthy living in my mid age. But holiday season is a toughest season of all, with all kind of goodies...

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    2006 days ago
    Great blog! Even when we aren't to maintenance yet, we STILL have the same issues. When we make a slip (not "if") do we end it there or compound it? I think this is the whole crux of maintaining our weight.

    I have every confidence that you will change your course forthwith!!
    2006 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/27/2012 5:32:58 PM
    emoticon blog!

    Amazing how quickly and easily self-deception can come back into play - and I don't mean the scale. I mean the MOMENT we pick up the cookie and tell our brain to remember it as just giving it a sniff. THAT is one of the hardest habits to truly break.
    2006 days ago
  • BAKER1009
    Thanks for the blog Elle!
    Although I myself have yet to get to maintenance mode (and am currently on HOLD, lol), it is nice to read about how it is when you reach that point. Your insight will be helpful to me when I reach maintenance mode.

    As for your struggles...I still believe it is only human, right? You've done a great job, and you're doing a great job now. You know what's happened, and you know what needs to be done to fix it. Go you!!
    And I absolutely LOVE that last quote!!

    Thanks for sharing this with us all. You ROCK!!
    2006 days ago
  • THOMS1
    2006 days ago
    Love your blog. My personal experience with weight gain has been hmmmm how can I put this..... Something like, but way worse than total blind DENIAL. It's a horrible place, where I never wake up until of course it's too late. I am learning to be present in my own life! My fondest wish is to stay far away from blind denial.
    But sincerest thanks for your wonderful blog you really know how to put things in perspective.

    2006 days ago
    GREAT blog! This so true! Although I didn't catch my gain until I had REALLY gained a lot back, I did go through all the excuses and blaming it on other things and now I'm back to holding myself accountable. :) I love how you worded your blog and really called it as it is :)

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    2006 days ago
    For me, weighing daily is essential to staying honest. The other day when I "forgot" to weigh in, I discovered I was up 5 lbs (now 4 as I do what is needed). After a life of yoyoing, I am determined to not ignore what gets me there.
    2006 days ago
    SO true. It really is about taking the bull by the horns and getting back into those healthy habits instead of letting things slide. Kudos for catching it quickly and getting back on track!
    2006 days ago
    Great blog! You captured the essence of backsliding!
    thanks for sharing!
    2006 days ago
    Excellent Blog!! Unlike you - I let my gain go too far and feel just that 'panic' of getting back to where I had busted that 3 year plateau finally.

    I am sure that maintenance is just as hard if not harder than losing the weight but you are doing emoticon
    2006 days ago
    How fantastic that you have hit your goal emoticon

    Now is that dangerous time where you can either creep slowly back to your old ways emoticon and weight gain or you can try to find the balance with your new habits which keeps you close to goal. emoticon

    How many times have most of us lost weight only to put it back on. Well done you for taking control and making the decision to keep it off. emoticon
    2006 days ago
    Just what I needed aftervThanksgiving! Thank you!
    2006 days ago
    thanks awesome blog so true
    2006 days ago
    There you go!! Well said my friend!

    Stop - reassess - take action.

    You already know what to do, it's just a matter of doing it right now instead of tomorrow. Soon enough things will be right back where they were just takes some time and patience.

    2006 days ago
  • 1935MARY
    Thank you. This is awesome. You are so right we want to blame it on everything except the one who is responsible for no action. As Barney Fife would say you have to nip it in the bud. emoticon
    2006 days ago
    Absolutely awesome blog!! I'm in those same days - and like you realize NOW is the time to take action!! emoticon
    2006 days ago
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