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Regain happens. The most important thing is what you do about it.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

I started at 335.6 lbs in 2007, got down to 326.2 in late 2008.
I reached my initial goal weight (under 160) in early 2010.
I have been up and down both above and below 160 several times since then.
I eventually moved my target goal weight to 150 and made 160 my “scream weight.”


Currently my moving average is 12 lbs above my “happy range” between 145.5 and 154.5 (+/- 3% around 150), and 6.5 over my “scream weight” of 160. I haven’t lifted weights regularly in the last four months, and I can tell. This isn’t muscle gain. In fact, according to the BIA trends on my scale, I’ve been losing muscle mass.

While I still am technically maintaining according to some criteria, I’m not happy with where I am at the moment. I’m generally healthy, but not in the athletic shape I was in last year. I wrote last December about why I wanted to get back into my “happy range” and continue getting stronger.

The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry. Unexpected things happened, some of them very positive. Plans changed. Priorities shifted. I briefly did get back into range this spring but did not stay there.

For the past six months I’ve been treading water, trying to balance my new distractions with moderate food control and a mixture of cardio activities, and it has lead to gradual gains. This "strategy" clearly isn't working. The time has come for action.

So what am I going to do about it?

One option is to decide to be happy right here, where I’m at, and try to avoid gaining any more weight. But I suspect that sort of approach will lead to denial and continued weight creep. I know myself. This isn’t my first rodeo. I gained and lost over 100 lbs in my 20s, and regained them plus almost 100 more in my 30s. That’s how I got to 335.6 in the first place. And deep down inside I am not liking what I see when I look in the mirror. I am not liking that I can no longer wear my favorite pants. My self-esteem is taking a hit here, and that can be more damaging than anything else, in the long run.

Another option is to drop the new positive things in my life and go back to the exercise schedule and food plans I had before. That would give me back the body I want, but not the life I want. I LIKE the new things in my life, and I want to keep them there.

My main problem with the way I’ve been trying to manage my food and exercise is that I have been easily distracted from doing the positive behaviors. There hasn’t been sufficient incentive to skip the cookies on the snack table at contra dances, avoid the chips and beer after kayaking all day, stay out of the dried cranberries and almonds in the bf’s kitchen, take the time to lift, etc. So I think the solution is to set something up to help me stay more engaged with the process.

When I lost 160 lbs in 2009 I did it by making a spreadsheet with a whole bunch of little milestones, such that there was always a new goal and reward just around the corner.

If this strategy worked in the past, then something like it will probably work now because mentally I’m still the same person with the same kind of psychology.

The difference this time is that I don’t want to over-restrict my calories. That leads to bingeing. Losing those last 10 lbs and doing successful body recomposition goes extremely slowly. And over the past six months I have been unsuccessful getting back into my “happy range” partly because the thought of continuing the effort for months is kind of overwhelming.

So my milestones are a lot closer, this time. This is what it looks like:

168.00 (start)


I have set a mini-goal of losing 1% of my body weight from my recent maximum (167.6). Then another 1%. And so on, until I get under my scream weight (160) and back within my “happy range” (between 145.5 and 154.5). I will use the trend weight from my moving average since that reflects where I actually am, smoothing out water fluctuations.

These mini-goals are measurable and achievable. They are the trail of breadcrumbs I will follow back to my “happy range.” The gap between them is small enough that there’s always another one, if I just go a little bit further.

My rewards will be a new Buff headband each time I get to or below a milestone. I like wearing them to control sweat and keep my hair out of my face during workouts and dances. They come in a bunch of different pretty designs and colors, which is fun.

I will eat between 1500 and 2000 calories per day on my plan:

I will continue the cardio I’ve been doing (a mixture of contra dancing, Tae Kardio, spin class, and kayaking) and add back in lifting 2x per week.

And I will continue to administer and participate in the maintenance challenges in the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team. teams.sparkpeople

Although I’ve been out of range for the last few of these, the accountability is helpful to me, as is seeing so many of my teammates successfully staying within their own happy ranges.

The fat won’t come off overnight. But I believe the little goals along the way are achievable within every week or two, and that’s what I need to keep myself going over the long haul to get back to where I want to be.

Finding strategies that work is all part of the big process of learning how to keep the weight off. While I’ve definitely gotten better at it over the past 3 years, there is still a whole lot more to learn. I won’t even start to think of myself as a “successful” maintainer until I’ve passed the 5-year mark. And even then I’ll still have to stay engaged, because statistically about 20% of maintainers regain after that point. By that time I hope to have a lot more skills and experience under my belt. And kept less body fat under that belt, too!

Here is a spreadsheet of my progress

and a graph

To see more about using trend weights, visit the Hacker's Diet spark team: teams.sparkpeople.com/ha
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