The longer I maintain, the fewer people presently in my life remember that I was ever overweight. Pretty much nobody notices or comments on my present shape and size. Everybody just takes it for granted: this is me.
I lost the big whack o'weight in 2001, 230 to 150. That's now a dozen years ago. I've been a size 8 long enough to have worn out most of my original "after weight loss" wardrobe. There was just one temporary regain blip up in 2009 of about 20 pity party pounds with a cancer dx, taken off within months once I'd signed up here at Spark People, and kept off since then with a bit more actually, so I'm now wearing size 6s a lot of the time.
OK then, what's so great about nobody noticing? Getting no credit? Especially when maintaining is actually so difficult for me? When maintenance actually requires eternal vigilance and daily tracking and . . . . all of that. When maintenance truly is one of the hardest things I do? Wasn't it fun when people were praising me practically daily as I dropped weight dramatically from size 20 to 18 to 8 in about 8 months??
Sure it was. But being unremarkable in the weight department is better. Weigh better!
When I was heavy, people noticed. Oh sure, they tried not to. They knew that they shouldn't notice. But the initial response to me as an overweight person was . . . um . . . not positive. It came with a whole bunch of negative assumptions.
Like I must not care enough about my husband and my kids to stop eating so much it was affecting my health. Even though I was probably shortening my life. Pretty selfish.
Like I must be lacking in self-discipline, even prey to addictive behaviour. Regardless of what I was achieving in other areas of my life, I was obviously unable to resist foods that weren't good for me.
Like I must be unaware of how awkwardly I moved. Huffing and puffing and taking up too much space.
Like I must be oblivious to how I looked.
None of this enhanced my image a whole lot.
And I had to work so hard to overcome these initial negative reactions. Of which I was absolutely and miserably aware.
I had to compensate by being excessively vigorous. Excessively organized and punctual. Excessively cheerful. Excessively obliging, often offering to take on more than my share of tasks. Excessively competent as a wife and mother and in my work. Or at least I felt I had to. And so I tried.
But often without liking these burdens. All that ingratiation took a lot of effort.
Am I exaggerating the actual reactions people had towards me when I was heavy? Really, I don't think so. Because the effusive compliments when I was losing the weight, even though I appreciated them, also made me uncomfortable.
Like people had been severely censoring their criticisms up to that point. And worse yet, that people didn't really have a whole lot of confidence I would keep the weight off. Since I really was that kinda selfish, unselfdisciplined, unathletic, dowdy person they'd taken me to be all along. Soon to return to my former shape and size most likely.
So the longer I maintain, the more people take my present shape and size for granted. The more unremarkable it is, the less vigilant I have to be about ingratiating myself.
Oh sure, I still try hard to be a pleasant human being. But only within reasonable limits. There aren't a great number of tasks I take on that I really don't want to do any more.
That's why, in terms of managing personal and professional image, weight loss maintenance actually takes a lot less effort than over-compensating for my overweight image ever did. A whole lot less effort. I am the person you see.
What got me thinking about all of this? I realized after I posted my "What It Takes to Maintain" blog that it made weight loss maintenance look pretty tough. Formidable. Overwhelming.
And maintenance IS tough. But not impossible.
My "What I Like About Maintaining" series is meant to offer a bit of comfort . . . to me as much as anyone. Because although maintenance is difficult and the effort required is relentless, it's worth it.
Health, freedom from compulsions, freedom to move, freedom to choose what I want to wear and how I want to look, freedom from censure and the need to overcompensate: five powerful reasons to continue the hard work of weight loss maintenance.
I like maintaining.
I like maintaining enough to keep on doing it, no matter what it takes.