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How to maintain? - Learning from my two year experience.

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Friday, January 03, 2014

Thanks for all of you who sent me wishes for my two year maintenance anniversary.

It was a surprise, as I didn't really kept track of this anniversary, as healthy living became so much a core thing of my life. According to the statistics, people who maintain weight for 2 years, have 50% chance to keep it on the long term. I'm confident that I will keep my healthy weight for many more years, as I decided to live a healthy life until I die.

I thought to share a few tips that worked for me during this past two years.

First of all, I shifted my focus from weight and weight maintenance to healthy living and maintaining healthy living. I even wrote a article about it on my personal page.
In brief, my experience is that when I focus on reaching a goal weight, by definition I don't focus on maintaining that weight (or living healthy), as I focused on losing weight, so how I would expect to keep it off? I have to focus on changing my life to live a healthy lifestyle, and use weight as a metric to track my progress.

2. JOB
The idea behind this is that when my work involve healthy living, time I spend with daily job works towards a healthier me. First, I decided to work for company developing healthy products, and I was working with fruit preparations and strawberry.
But then, I thought to take it to the next level, and take a bold step: combined my daily job with healthy living directly. I thought why not to do this full time, so I don't do this on top of other things, or part of my job, but this is "the core thing". So far it works wonderfully, and it seems I enjoy doing this much more vs. my previous jobs. As a side effect, as I support others to live healthy, it comes back to me, something like a positive karma.
The job change sounds easy, but in fact it was a longer process, and involved a lot of hesitation, experimentation, consideration.

This was about intentional changes in my daily life for the long term, so the healthy way is the default way. This has the benefit that I have to spend much less willpower and energy to do exercise, eat healthy, and have good recovery.
I have transformed my nutrition habits in 2012 (making my own meal 90% of the time, eating raw and fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible, and radically reorganizing my kitchen for healthy options).
I had three big projects for 2013, all about getting more movement in my daily life: car-free transport, standing-desk for my office, and healthy holidays for the downtime.

Daily Life Projects of 2013 in details
a) WBT life (walking, biking, public transport).
I call it WBT, others call it car-free life.
I don't like to call it "car-free", because it's then still about cars... now we intentionally don't buy a car with my wife, and focus on walking, going by bike, and using train, plane, bus, etc.
Austria is not an easy country to do this, as this European society is obsessed with cars, and in Austria, German Cars. Families have 2, 3 sometimes even 4 cars, teenagers get a scooter or a motorbike with the first legal possibility. Roads are wide, and even in the most remote places in Austria you have beautiful super-high quality asphalt that is good for roller skating, and people drive insane amounts of hours a year. One's car is also a representation about status in society. So having no car, is kind of strange here, people can't really understand. In fact, I only have one single friend who doesn't have a car in their family, my teacher from my contact dance class.
If interested in the numbers, here's a statistic from 2011:

So it's though, but it's not impossible, as we live this way. The location of our apartment is carefully chosen so we can reach everything by walking, and this town is on a well frequented train line (this was also intentional).
Interesting is that the more I live this way, the more people I meet who do the same. In a recent conference, I learned there are even regions for walking-biking-public transport life. Like Freiburg in Germany, where thousands of people live in car-free areas. I have a wish to move to a city which is bike friendly, like Copenhagen in Denmark. Here's a statistic about bike friendly cities. First, I plan to visit these as a travel destination, and explore, and if good, move there.

I work in my daily job in an office, and decided to swap 8-10 h a day of sitting to standing, fidgeting, dancing, walking in place.
I started a few weeks ago, and so far, it is great. I had some fear of being tired, etc. but I don't experience any of it, I just enjoy working this way much more. Also, there is more room in our apartment.

Healthy holidays.
I was thinking how we could do more exercise in a way we enjoy it. I thought that holidays are really nice for that. Among the many sports, we settled on bike touring. It is very cheap, we can explore a lot of things in a relatively short time, and 4-6 hours biking every day trims down fat without any extra effort.
This is something that is easy to do in Austria, they have excellent bike roads everywhere here, and we found that the neighboring countries are also great to explore by bike.
After our first experimental bike tour in Slovenia this summer, it turned out we just love it, and since then we use every single opportunity to get onto our bikes and go. This year we made additional trips to Italy and Hungary, and a lot of day tours in Austria. Now, even when we are not touring, we like to carry our bikes with us on the train. The pictures are from our tour in Italy.
I also plan to buy a foldable bike this year, so I can carry it with me as luggage, so I can save cost on long distance trains.

These were the major events for me in my healthy living. The most important however, was we got married with my (now) wife this year. We made the wedding menu also healthy, it was not easy, but we pulled it off! :-) And of course, I was the last man standing on the floor, with all the endurance I built up in the last years, a full night party is no problem at all.

I started about changing my focus from weight to healthy living.
But do I measure my weight?
Of course, every single morning, I start my day by stepping on my Omron BF511 scale, and check my weight, fat%, and muscle%.
However, I use the data to track my hydration level, and to see trends. This way I can detect easily when things go well, or not well.

This is a small street in Gleisdorf, I often use this path for running intervals. It's just perfect, relatively horizontal, no cars, there's a stream next to it, and it's almost exactly 400m (similar to a round in a running track). Behind the road are the mountains and forests, with tons of possibilities to run, walk, bike, hike.

I think to focus in 2014 on recovery (sleep, meditation, resting). To have this in an intentional and good way in my daily life.
Any tips for that sleep, meditation, resting improvement?
What works for you and what doesn't?
Resources, ideas, suggestions - all welcome!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon emoticon
    1572 days ago
    You are such an inspiration, Oliver! Congratulations on this life-changing journey of yours and thank you for all the wonderful tips and advice.
    If you wanted to share your story, I'd love to read about the long process of the job change. I'll also make sure to stop by your personal page and check it out.
    emoticon emoticon

    1574 days ago
    Wow! So many great ideas for a healthy life-style. Congratulations on your maintenance anniversary and on a terrific blog. Best wishes to you and your wife as you continue on your journey toward healthy living.
    1575 days ago
    Congratulations on your anniversary, and may you enjoy many more of them! My first anniversary of reaching my original goal weight is coming up in about 6 weeks. I am aiming to get in the habit of moving more. I have created a standing desk by turning round a computer desk with a high shelf and standing on a stepper in front of it. I also have a kneeling chair at my normal desk, which helps prevent back problems recurring too often and too hard. I need the car, less for myself than for my neighbour who uses it a lot to run errands for me. I would find it difficult to ask him to jump on a minibus to go into town and get something heavy for me. Snce my frst bike was stolen and the second hand one I got died, i havent got another as the drivers are so dangerous on the road from our village into town. 2 of my neighbours had bad accidents that nearly killed them when theynwere knocked off their bikes.
    1575 days ago
    Great job Oliver!!! What a success story...in so many things, work/life balance....even getting married.

    Congratulations and keep up the successful pace.....you're on a great path!
    1579 days ago
  • MAREE1953
    Congrats on a great blog and lifestyle change!
    1579 days ago
    Amazing and wonderful approach to living healthy. Linda from bean town
    1579 days ago
    Congratulations and thanks for sharing your inspirational story and success. Also, great blog and finally, the photos are great and a nice addition to your writings. emoticon
    1579 days ago
    What an amazing focus and plan and you executed it with determination.

    Thank you for sharing it was inspiring and educational! emoticon
    1579 days ago
    Wonderful summary of your approach to living a SPARKED life!

    I'll have to look further into the standing desk...terrific idea that I've been aware of, interested in, but yet to seriously look at it.

    I love it when I can bike to work as I live around 10 miles away. However I am a fair-weather cyclist and often get either rained out or it gets too cold. Perhaps that may change...but not likely...lol!

    1579 days ago
    Hi Oliver...congrats on your wedding and your 2 years maintaining. You continue to amaze me with your dedication and determination. You are a great motivator with living a healthy lifestyle.

    1580 days ago
    I haven't seen you in my feed for awhile. Should have looked you up. I think you look younger than you did a few months back. Anyway, great blog! Still instructive and inspiring as I remember.
    1580 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    Wow, Congrats on so much! On the 2 years of maintaining and going car free for all the lessons that you have learned! Way to go. What a great inspiration you are for so many here. Your vacations sound wonderful and I would love to be able to stand on a treadmill and get steps in while working! You have really made a huge life change! Good for you. Here is to many more years of success!
    1580 days ago
    Not having a car really helped me stay in shape. I have a very very slow metabolism and gain weight very easily.

    When I was in my early twenties, I was very concerned about gas and the environment. I refused to learn to drive. Instead of cars, I walked and used public transit and bikes. I weighed 114 lbs.

    I learned to drive when I needed to transport my daughter. I then forgot about bikes and walks. My weight climbed up.

    Whenever we lived abroad, I would revert to not having a car and the pounds would melt away.

    Giving up the car is the easiest way to lose weight and maintain it!
    1580 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/23/2014 5:03:06 PM
    Hey Oliver!

    Great Blog!!! I remember when you first came to sparks! You have really given it your all and done an life change!! emoticon Thanks for sharing with us! You gave many tips and ideas!! Continue on!!!!
    1580 days ago
  • JEWELS571
    1580 days ago
    emoticon emoticon I have one year of maintenace behind me and working on year 2. Thank for the thoughts.
    1580 days ago
    Thank you for this thought provoking blog and sharing with us what worked and is working for you.
    Congrats on your new lifestyle.
    1580 days ago
    Congratulations on your success. I never thought of Austria as "car obsessed" but then I've really only spent time in Vienna and one month in your neighbor Slovakia. Both in Vienna and Bratislava, we walked or used public transport. Everyone looked so fit and trim.
    You've made some great points and are a great example for us to follow.
    1580 days ago
    Congratulations on your transformation to such a healthy lifestyle!
    Wishing you continued success!

    Way To Go!
    1580 days ago
    I love that you have elected a car free life! That would be a dream come true for me!! I saw one of those folding bikes in one of the National Parks last year - VERY cool!!
    1580 days ago
    I will definitely be taking some of your suggestions into consideration. When the weather gets a bit warmer here in the states, I hope to start walking to the grocery store which is 1.3 miles from my home. I am hoping to model healthy behavior for my two daughters who are still toddlers. :)
    1580 days ago
  • DSJB9999
    emoticon FOR MAINTAINING emoticon

    1580 days ago
    1581 days ago
    You truly have found the right formula for you. I followed the link to your other blog, and one statement in particular struck me: "Because most of the activities I do are 'work to reach my weight goal,' I don't really enjoy the process...." Those words clarified what I have been feeling. While I was losing weight, the goal became the single obsession, and every bite of food and every activity (fun or not...usually not) was geared toward the goal. Almost two years ago, I started into maintenance and was able to keep up the momentum for over a year. Then, the old habits started creeping back in, and the last six months have been a real struggle. My conclusion is that I need to focus more now on what I can live with in terms of food and activity that will reduce the stress of the struggle, even if it means being a few pounds heavier than that magic target weight. It's all about balance.
    1581 days ago
  • KANOE10
    You have a developed a wonderful healthy life. Congratulations on a making strong steps to make exercise a part of your life as well as healthy eating. Your 2 year anniversary is impressive.

    1581 days ago
    When it's the way you live - and you enjoy it - it's a lot easier to have a healthy body.

    1581 days ago
    GREAT life-lessons! Thanks for this!
    1581 days ago
    I too am working on sleep and meditation in 2014. So here is what I do. I meditate daily in the morning and again when I get home from work. It's non-negotiable now. I have my meditation cushion/area all set up so that I see it as a cue to remind myself. And I use guided meditations, I like the Oprah/Choprak ones. I have a set for the morning and a set for the evening.

    For sleep, I've decided that I go to bed right after putting my daughter to bed. So I get ready when she does, and after her lights are out, I do a few final things and off to bed I go. The goal is 7-8 hours. I'm averaging 7, but it's getting better and better.
    1581 days ago
    emoticon for two years maintaining, and don't you look healthy and fit!

    I lived without a car for six months, it was fun. I see you love your bike, my home town is too hilly for biking. But I love to make sure I do plenty of exercise on my holiday.

    Suggestions for rest and relaxation? I take an Epsom sats bath, using about 500g Epsom salts in a bath tub of water just a little over body temperature. The magnesium is so good for your skin and muscles. Then out of the bath and wrapped in a warm towel, and then to bed. Mmmmmm, so relaxing.
    1581 days ago
    Wonderful blog. Beautiful photos.Beautiful country. Thank you.

    No car here in the center of Tokyo. My commute includes 45 minutes of walking - helpful for weight and health.

    And thank you for all your information on maintenance. That 50% statistic is very encouraging and makes it seem much more doable than the horrible 95% statistic.
    1581 days ago
    Congratulations for living a car free life!!!!! emoticon
    1581 days ago
    well thought out. looks like you live in a beautiful place. Congrats on your maintenance achievement!
    1581 days ago
    As someone 8 months into maintenance, I found your blog very informative and inspirational. Thanks for sharing!
    1581 days ago
  • THOMS1
    Wonderful blog and very interesting. emoticon
    1581 days ago
    Great blog! You have really made impressive healthy changes in your lifestyle. Very inspiring! Wonderful pictures.

    I find that yoga has really helped not only improve my flexibility (mentally and physically) but I also sleep better on the nights I have yoga.

    I also downloaded the calm.com app on my iPhone. Its six minutes of easy meditation.

    Thanks for sharing your lifestyle!
    1581 days ago
    I sold my car two years ago, and it was the best choice I could have made. I do occasionally borrow a car to get to appointments, especially in the Winter, but when I do I try and combine my trip with someone else's to save on gas and time.
    1581 days ago
  • _LINDA
    emoticon emoticon
    That is wonderful! I live in a sprawling car mad city and I don't drive! Many areas are not friendly to pedestrians or bicycles. I envy that you can find such utopias.
    Good for you seeking out a healthy place to live!
    Keep the great work!
    1581 days ago
    Congratulations on your maintenance! Wonderful! I really enjoyed your blog and all the information. Keep up the good work! I weigh myself daily as well, I like to see the fluctuations. That way when I have a gain I know it is just temporary weight.
    1581 days ago
    Oliver, thank you for an excellent blog on maintenance! It is wonderful how you have put so much thought into your lifestyle choices such as living in a place where you can walk, bike (or take public transportation) everywhere. Such a lifestyle sounds very appealing and I congratulate you on making these choices and on two years of healthy living!
    1581 days ago
    What a terrific blog with so many great suggestions for making a healthy life the focus going forward permanently!

    You and your lovely wife look very happy and fit!!
    1581 days ago
  • LAURIE9404
    Love it! Thanks for sharing and as always, you truly motivate!
    1586 days ago
    Oliver, this is a super post. Thanks for sharing the resources and your enthusiasm for your healthy lifestyle!

    Sorry I got unsubscribed from your blog again, but saw the news about your anniversary and here I am again. I'm doing quite well without a car, having sold mine before leaving for the States in October 2012 after my father passed away. I was in the US till the end of May 2013 and decided I could do without a car. I was really only using it for grocery shopping and occasional errands. It's really a luxury that isn't necessary with my current job and activities. I did without one for the first 16 years I lived in Germany, too. But it is easier in some locations than others.

    In any case, I wish you much success in the new year and look forward to reading more -- again!
    1599 days ago
  • PDQ1203
    1599 days ago
    Congrats on your successes. You certainly have things laid in place to live healthy and fully for many years to come!
    1600 days ago
    Great blog! Great wisdom.
    1600 days ago
    Wow, so you weigh yourself every morning even after two years of maintenance? Hm.
    1600 days ago
    Wonderful choices to keep a healthy you! I'm jealous of all the opportunities to bike and live car-free. It's almost impossible in the state that I live. Even the city transportation isn't very good.

    The changes that you've made will definitely help keep you in the maintenance phase! It's nice when life can give you that opportunity or should I say, you make a life where you take the opportunity.

    Keep at it!
    1600 days ago
    Not only a motivational blog on healthy living, but also an enticing look into Austria!
    1600 days ago
    Awesome! I try not to sit much at work as well. I wish I could find a way to write while on my feet.
    1600 days ago
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