AIM: Through Thick and Thin

logo: Adventures in Maintenance with photos

Among the congratulations and kudos I received upon reaching goal was this wise-ass piece of advice: “Just be sure you don’t gain it all back.”

Really? This is what you say to someone while she’s celebrating? I fought off the urge to throw my stapler at the wise-ee and muttered something like, “Well, shoot, there goes that plan,” as I walked off to talk to more sensible people.

I knew the statistics before I started this adventure, that almost two-thirds of “dieters” regain their weight within three years, and I found them discouraging. But then I remembered I wasn’t a statistic and plowed forward anyway.

So here I am in the middle of my fourth year of maintenance, and I’ve beaten the statistics so far. (Go me!) Does this mean I hit goal weight and stayed there? Not at all, but then again, I never expected it to. Not if I wanted to get out and about and enjoy this new, more vibrant life.

Over the past few years (and thanks to the decadent vacation, right now), I’ve had times when my pants felt snug, or a shirt looked a bit tighter, or I just knew that I was indulging a little too much. Early on, I would feel a jolt of panic when this happened. Am I going to gain it all back? Is this the beginning of the end?

And then I would fall upon my bed in a heap and sob for hours. Okay, not really, but I did/do have to remind myself that this is exactly what I’d expected, that there would be times my weight would start to creep up, and I’d have to be watchful for that. I remember telling a friend that I wanted to be one of those people who gain and lose the same 5-10 pounds over and over–only from goal weight, rather than 100 pounds heavier. :)

I hadn’t seriously intended that to be the plan, but that seems to be what’s happening. I have no idea if or how much I gain or lose, because I don’t weigh so much these days. When it feels like the weight is shifting in the wrong direction, I knuckle down and get back to basics–and only basics–for a while. I look at it as weight management more than weight maintenance. Or maybe it’s weight mindfulness. Whatever, it requires being aware of what’s going on and keeping it all in check.

Long time readers know that I struggle at times with body image, and I’ve worked hard to (mostly) get to a place where I accept this strong, energetic, imperfect vessel. One thing I hadn’t factored in was the impact m-m-menopause would have on my body. My face is rounder, and my already thick middle is slightly thicker. Since those seem to be the only by-products of this momentous time, I think I’ll take it and be happy. From what I understand, it could be much, much worse.

In the end, what matters most to me now is what mattered most to me when I first began: a healthier and more vibrant life. As for how close I’ll keep it to goal weight for the long term, I stumbled across another statistic recently that makes me feel pretty good about my (and therefore, YOUR) chances:

“A large proportion of the American population has lost 10% of their maximum weight and has maintained this weight loss for at least 1 y. These findings are in sharp contrast to the belief that few people succeed in long-term weight loss maintenance.” Source

I plan to stay well over the 10% success mark (say, 90-95%), through thick and thin (well, thinner), while I explore this new and vibrant life, and I hope you won’t let any set of statistics stop you from achieving your goals either!

Have you thought about the time after you reach goal? Are you prepared for the possibility of regain?

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the other AIM posts:
Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh
Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debby @ Debby Weighs In
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!

24 thoughts on “AIM: Through Thick and Thin

  1. AHHH THE M-word.
    Im happily in peri-menopause (ok not happily :-)) and can already sense whats ahead.
    reason #989483 why Im glad I dont weigh and am totally following your focus of the happy vibrant life.


  2. I really think it should be changed to weight management and not maintenance. I love that!

  3. Weight management is a great term – because think about it – when you manage people, you don’t expect them to be exactly the same day after day…fluidity is a part of life, and giving yourself permission to enjoy living in your new vessel (LOVE THAT) means that weight changes a bit. Managing it is key, and obviously after all these years, you’ve got a great handle on that!

    • Thank you, Shelley! I’m trying to keep the weight from changing drastically, but life happens, right? :)

  4. LOVE!!!!!!!!!! Love you & Lori & how you manage your weight loss & life! More people need to read & listen to you two!!! It is tough stuff – the losing but man the maintaining/management!!! YIKES! Your attitude is great!

    Ah, menopause which I have written so much about – peri into menopause! I had it lots worse than you so yes, it can be worse than just weight gain…. :O I had it all! I have taken steps as you know to keep my weight down & body in the best shape I can BUT that is my choice to do what I do & we all have to find our own way & happiness. :) You have done it! :) CONGRATS!

    • Thanks so much, Jody! I don’t know that it’s so much weight gain as body shifting. :) I’m fortunate that so far *knock wood* that’s the worst of it.

  5. I like the positive statistic much better than the negative one. Its harder to keep trucking ahead when people throw negative statistics at you, but easier when you feel hopeful

    • Absolutely, Robyn! I focus on the positive, and challenge myself of proving the negative one wrong! (I’m just stubborn, that way.)

  6. It’s encouraging to find you and others out there that have success with maintenance. I’ve have had great success maintaining my obese weight, now if I could lose it and join you in the real land of maintenance. A healthy and vibrant life sounds good to me. Hope you enjoy your week.

  7. At my lowest weight, I had people telling me that I would probably gain my weight back. Talk about encouragement, eh! I think I subconsciously believed it. I have gained some of the weight back but I will not give up!

    • You’re doing great, Katrin! As long as we stay close to the path, we can almost always find a way to hop back on!

  8. Like the others, I like the term weight management better than maintenance and yes, the big “M” changed things for me as well. It isn’t as easy to lose as it once was which makes me even more determined to keep off what I’ve already lost.

    • I guess I was so giddy over getting to goal weight that the M-thing surprised me over the past year or so. Oh well, it does at least have some benefits. Well, one. :)

  9. I think you really hit on something when you termed it “management” instead of “maintenance.” I don’t think it’s realistic of me to think that I’m going to hit goal and stay there forever. I’m quite sure I will gain five pounds, feel that my pants are tight, and lose a few. My dysfunctional relationship with food will likely be a life-long battle, and I will try to manage it as best I can. I, too, refuse to be a statistic!

    • You tell ’em, Kaki! You can and will reach a point where it just…flows. Even if there are a few bumps now and then!

  10. I have not reached my goal weight and have been struggling mentally over the past couple months with wondering if I want to do the work to get there. (I’m 5′ 4″ and my ultimate goal was 140 – nothing outrageous)

    I’ve noticed over the past year three people I watched lose the weight, keep it off for a time, begin to gain back 20-30 pounds. It makes me think, should I just stay where I’m at? hhmm… Thus, why Lori mentioned recently to be sure and check out May’s AIM posts. :)

    Cammy, I really appreciate your writing voice. I am enjoying this new body, because I haven’t stayed under 170 for more than a couple months in my adult life and run?? Nope. I was never this active either. Your ideas of enjoying the imperfect vessel is so true. I don’t think people realize when you’ve been so big for so many years, just staying out of the “Obese” range is victory.

    However, I’ve learned much from these posts and I still have to think whether I’m using the concept of “inevitable gain” as an explanation as to why I can’t seem to stick with a stricter eating plan to get to goal, or am I allowing that to solely be my excuse not to stay “on plan” so to speak.

    I’ve got lots to think about. Thanks for your post! :)

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Leah!

      It’s tough knowing when enough is enough, and I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with just “resting” in a certain spot for a while. Seeing how it feels and taking time to consider if it’s the right spot in which to live. It sounds like that might be where you’re at right now?

  11. Very inspiring post. I haven’t been thinking about what I am going to do once I reach goal weight. It’s been so long since I ever had that weight but if I remember correctly it wasn’t that hard to maintain it at the time.

    I do believe however, that a lot of people in fact do gain it all back. When I look at work there have been 3 co-workers who had a huge weight loss. I have to admit that at two of them I even was jealous a bit (they did some drastic diet). But today those 2 are heavier than when they started that diet. The third one is a man and he just started eating healthy and exercise. He lost a lot and is still at that weight, more than a year now. He’s going to climb the Alpe D’Huez in June for the second year in a row and not one time, no 6 times to raise money for the cancer foundation. He’s a good inspiration to me.

    • Thank you for your comment, Fran! Most of us have done the ‘gain back’ thing at some point, which is why I think it’s a good idea to consider it while we’re building our new lifestyles and plan for how we’ll keep any regain to a minimum.

  12. “New and vibrant life.” You know, I’ve never thought of it that way. Hunh. When I started losing weight the last time, I did it to run away from the body I’d created. Now, in the body I have now, I think that’s where I’m at again. I used a musical reference in Debby’s post and I feel another one coming on here: Should I stay or should I go? Stay at this weight (settle) or go back to a place more comfortable? I. Don’t. Know.

  13. Interesting insights, Lynn! What if instead of thinking of it as ‘settling’, you thought of it as ‘resting’ where you are now? Would that help or just clutter things up? For me, the phrasing in my head makes the difference by taking away the single solution aspect. (I’m a gal who needs options. LOL)

  14. I agree. I think most people don’t think about how they are going to maintain once the weight loss is done. In my opinion maintenance is much harder to do than losing the weight because you have to do it the rest of your life. And most people don’t think about that during the weigt loss process is my opinion.

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