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?
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!