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Have You Had Your "Aha!" Moment?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

This is a question I recently put out to the members of the 'At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance' team. What I was hoping to find in response to this question was if other successful maintainers had a particular moment where all of the pieces of their healthy lifestyle came together and the process just started to feel natural and intuitive or if it was something that evolved gradually over time.

Not surprisingly, the responses were quite varied. For some, the key to their long-term success has involved following a certain plan or philosophy, for others it means tracking, for others it means a continual process of goal setting and for still others it meant coming to terms with the idea that long-term maintenance means having the strength and will to permanently keep up the work they did while they were losing. But even though the responses were very different, they did seem to have one thing in common: each person seems to have developed a keen sense of self awareness that's allowed them to pinpoint and execute exactly what they need to do to stay successful in the long term.

If I think about my own weight loss and maintenance journey, I'd have to say the same thing is true for me. I don't know that I've had one specific "Aha!" Moment but I have had a gradual progression and continual process of learning that's involved fine-tuning the strategies that have worked for me and discarding the ones that don't. Rather than looking to copy the strategies of someone whose weight-loss strategy I admired, I focused on doing what made and would keep me successful, taking into account my own personal strengths and weaknesses.

I suppose the development of that type of self awareness is one of the most important things we can strive for on this journey because it's what will allow us to develop a plan that works best according to our preferences and lifestyles and ensure that it's one that we can sustain forever. Although I find it immensely useful and thought provoking to exchange ideas with other maintainers and to experiment with my plan, I understand that, ultimately, I am the one who needs to be able to live with the changes and choices I make.

What's more, I've learned that if one of those choices involves something that leads to an unhealthy deprivation/binge pattern, totally exhausts me or generally makes me miserable or resentful, then it's not something that I can keep as part of my plan. I've learned that although living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining my weight loss involves sacrifice, I don't need to follow a meal or exercise plan that I loathe and I don't need to avoid all of the food I love all the time in order to be successful. I've learned to truly moderate my habits, how to keep myself accountable and how to gently but effectively self correct when I start to slip.

If I really think about it, I guess I could say that my real "Aha!" Moment isn't as connected to my ability to be successful as it is to the faith I have in myself. Because of my past history of yo-yo dieting, I've had lots of residual doubt that I could really maintain my losses this time around--nearly 30 years of ups and downs sure can take a toll on your sense of self assurance! But nearly nine months of maintenance has proven to me that I do not have to resign myself to this pattern anymore and that I am capable of breaking the cycle of wild weight swings. For the first time in my life, I've really analyzed my past successes and failures and have really addressed all of the different aspects of weight management rather than ignoring the ones that were too uncomfortable or unpleasant for me to tackle. And the development of that self awareness and faith in myself is what I think has made the biggest difference.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I have been a yo-yo dieter for 30 years, and have never been able to maintain. I've recently lost 50lbs and still have 30 to go, but my ultimate goal is no longer about the weight loss, but about maintaining this healthy and active life style. I find great motivation in reading the blogs of people who are maintaining! So much appreciated! Happy New Year

    1993 days ago
  • OKIE30
    I was reading about "Faith", in the Bible today

    2019 days ago
    As always, very inspirational post. When I was closing in on my original goal weight, it occurred to me that maintenance was almost exactly like losing weight. Maybe not so much an "Aha!" moment as an "I could have had a V-8!" moment. After all the times of losing bunches of weight and then regaining, I finally got it. :-)
    2029 days ago
  • MILLIE5522
    My "aha" moment was realising that counting calories is just a part of the process of losing weight. In the past I would meticulously count calories but ignore nutrition and then of course would feel so ill that I gave up and put all the weight back on. Once I got the nutrition balanced (tho still working on this!) I knew that I could do this for the rest of my life. Also I knew that feeling deprived would not work so I have always included my favourite foods and given myself a treat day at least once a week. I lost 40lbs slowly ....it took me 19 months but I learned so much about myself during that time. Lessons that I can use for the rest of my life!

    Great blog which I hope gets a wide audience. emoticon
    2029 days ago
    i've had the pieces, it was putting them together that brought the aha moment - and the tools here on SP, learning about portion sizes, tracking - and weighting! i love to read blogs like this because they help me focus, focus, refocus...thank you!
    2029 days ago
    Really enjoyed your blog. By analyzing both your success and failures- brings you knowledge and that brings success.
    2030 days ago
    Very helpful insight! thank you.
    2030 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Great blog, Tina. I did not have an Aha moment, but like you kept searching for the best way to maintain. It is an ongoing learning process, even in my 2nd year.
    I agree with you..self awareness and a belief in yourself are keys to success.

    You are doing a wonderful job of maintaining for 6 months.

    2030 days ago
    Great blog. Each of us has to find what can help us best on our maintenance journey, and I think you have found it.
    Keep on Sparking!

    2030 days ago
  • GABY1948
    Thanks for another great blog!
    2031 days ago
    This has been a great topic to follow on the message boards and with your blog here. Thank you for posting it. I agree that awareness, focus, tracking are key. My newest "ah ha" is that weight and fitness take time and that it's a great way to spend time. I used to treat these activities as "intrusions" on my Real Life. But no more. Anything worth doing in life whethr it be parenting, being married or staying healthy TAKES TIME. Duh!!!! emoticon
    2031 days ago
    You learned from your mistakes and you put your failures to good use. I think this is the key factor that reinforced your self-assurance. Still, after so many years of ups and downs, it's amazing that you managed to have faith in yourself this time and this proves what a strong, decisive and determined person you are! Which is great!
    I thought my Aha moment was the realization of the lifetime habits. And I thought I had faith in my abilities to succeed until my recent backsliding. I started having doubts and this is not a good thing. I'm counting on successful maintainers like you and your insightful blogs to start believing in myself again.
    Thank you for this blog!

    2031 days ago
    Thanks for the thoughtful blog
    2031 days ago
    Thanks for this--I'm still yo-yoing in and out of maintenance. I do know what to do; it's just finding a way to do it without living in constant self-denial. Be happy you've found your way before you reached middle-age. The body is much less forgiving of "slip-ups" after "a certain age."
    2031 days ago
  • DALID414
    Self awareness, I'll keep that in mind.
    2031 days ago
    Ha! An a ha moment after all! :-) Your blog and journey is inspiring to me for my future! I love reading your blog!!
    2031 days ago
  • POPSY190
    In a nutshell! You put your finger on the main factor - self-awareness and self-monitoring. Great blog.
    2031 days ago
    I relate to having faith in myself....enjoying the journey....and finding what you enjoy...and just doing it. Moderation is key...and making it a habit to be mindful about eating & fitness. If you seek Balance, you will find it.

    Success is not a destination, it's a journey....::: emoticon Laura
    2031 days ago
    I totally agree. I'm not in maintenance mode yet but am well on my way there. And you know I think what you wrote is only part of why so many fad diets don't work as they don't allow the individual to come to any sort of realization before they hit maintenance.
    2031 days ago
    I've had a lot of times along this journey when things seemed to come together - new information, new things to try, etc - but I'm not sure there's ever really been an aha moment. Mostly, I just keep going. I was frustrated for so long with how long it was taking me, but now, I'm no longer upset about that. Glad, actually, because I've now seen so many people here and off Spark that have lost fast, only to gain back or really struggle keeping the weight off, whereas I don't really have to struggle so much to maintain. I think the moment I realized this was back on my cruise in spring - 11 days of eating way too much, and I only gained back a pound. Right after that, the last sparkfriend I had who lost weight very quickly (100 lbs in a year or less) admitted she'd regained 15 lbs in a few weeks, and it was like a lightbulb just went off in my brain. That's when I accepted the slow loss as something good. I guess that's sort of like a lightbulb. :D
    2031 days ago
    2031 days ago
    I totally agree, Tina. That self-awareness, growing across multiple losses and now over a couple of years plus of maintenance has been more my experience than a single aha moment!
    2031 days ago
    A comprehensive, well written, thoughtful and lucid blog. A pleasure to read. Nicely done.
    2031 days ago
    Aha!!! Your commitment and awareness of maintenance is awesome. I think my aha moment was a process of education on nutrition. Ditching most processed stuff was a game changer for me.
    2031 days ago
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