Mon, Jul-13-09, 08:57
Attitude is a Choice
Plan: SBD->atkins twist->paleo
Somebody Call Maintenance!
SOMEBODY CALL MAINTENANCE!
Recently I got an email from Tamara, who has lost fifty pounds in the past year and reached her goal weight. Yaaay, Tamara! She writes:
"Now that I've gotten to my goal (although I still don't like the way my body looks!) I'm having such trouble with my eating. Without the motivation of seeing the numbers go down on the scale I feel like my calories keep creeping up and up. Do you have any thoughts on how to approach maintenance mentally? I'm so scared of regaining all this weight!"
Boy, I can identify with that fear. When you engage in longterm major weight loss, in order for it to be successful, you really must change your lifestyle and your relationship to food. You must change them forever. And while there are programs and books and schemes galore to help you do this, very few of them really prepare you for or guide you through maintenance.
Let's examine that word, maintenance. When we're speaking of weight loss, we use that word to mean keeping the weight off. But we should also think of maintenance as keeping up with the new, good habits we've established, the ones that allowed us to lose in the first place. If we do not maintain those habits, we will not maintain the weight loss.
And that is why, IMHO, it's critical to success that we have habits that are sustainable for us, personally. I know that I will never, ever stick with counting calories. I simply will not do it. I will not confess my gastronomic sins in a food journal to keep myself "accountable" for what I eat. I will never, ever give up gelato. However, I will continue to educate myself about nutrition and portion size so I can judge the right amount of food to go on my plate; I will continue to keep a food plan outlining what I intend to eat on any given day; and I will refrain from eating gelato for breakfast every single day (I will, I will, I will). I have spent time to figure out what I am willing to do in order to lose weight and keep it off, and I will do these things for the rest of my life because that, and nothing less, is what it takes.
I am fairly close to my own self-imposed goal weight --- so close, and yet so far. The last pounds are really a struggle, as any longterm dieter knows. In fact, I am currently hopeful that I am easing off a plateau of some months and into the final phases of weight loss; and to that end, I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for maintenance. I suspect that one of the reasons for the plateau was maintenance eating rather than weight loss eating. If you're going up and down the same five or so pounds over and over again, that isn't yo-yoing --- that's normal. You're maintaining. Don't sweat it.
What I've discovered, though, is that maintenance does not mean total relaxation. You're not off the hook. Weight management is the journey that never ends; there is no final destination, it's all about the trip. Sure, you can probably eat a little more than you did when you were battling the scale down. You can have a few more indulgences, but you must eat properly on a day-to-day basis. I think a good rule of thumb is to keep temptations out of the house, but allow yourself a small daily treat. Mine is dark chocolate. If I had cookies or ice cream in the house, I would eat it until it was gone; but for some reason I can hang on to bars of really high quality dark chocolate and make them last. So, after lunch and sometimes even after dinner, I have a square or two. If we go out or I have a bigger meal, I skip the treat.
It helps me to have a sort of food routine, to plan meals a few days in advance and shop just for what I'm going to cook (saves money, too). When I am at home, I know approximately when we are going to eat each day. When I travel, I carry protein bars and sometimes fruit or homemade trail mix so I don't get stuck eating crap. And if I have a protein bar for lunch, that IS my lunch --- no "making up for it" later. It's been a long journey, but I'm okay with that now. Heck, I am secretly proud of it. Look at me, I am now the sort of girl who can have a protein bar for lunch and IT'S OKAY. I don't have to gorge myself on pasta later to prove to myself that I'm not going to starve to death! Yep, it's a badge of honor.
Another thing that is helping me is ... and this sounds really self-centered, but let's face it, the weight loss is highly personal and extremely self-centered; it's self-care, after all ... constantly finding things to crow over. Dr. Beck would call it giving yourself credit. It's usually little things, like noting that I no longer need to wear bike shorts under my skirts in the summer to prevent tub rub, not having to ask for a seatbelt extension on the airplane, being able to walk into any store (well, except for those fancy-schmancy boutiques where an 8 is considered plus size) and find something that fits. I make it a point to notice and enjoy that brisk walks up hills while carrying bags of groceries do not deter me; I like how strong my legs feel and imagine ze toning of ze butt as I march on up. I get all excited when my husband refers to any part of me as tiny (yeah, it's gonna be a while before I let that one go. Sorry. Deal). And when all else fails, I remind myself of what the skinny people do.
I've also come to several conclusions, based on what's working for me and what isn't. I've realized that allowing myself to go completely off-program simply isn't worth it. I may enjoy the taste of the food at the time, but if I eat too much, I quickly become uncomfortable, and the fallout is unpleasant, too. I prefer to have a small indulgence and remind myself that it's just food, there will be more, I can have some another time.
Also, I've realized that I really must weigh every day and keep my weight loss graph. It's too easy to slip into fooling myself if I don't.
A recent big struggle is exercise --- it's so hot, and I have so much work to do, that it's very hard to make the time to get out of the house. But I must, simply must. When I do actually reach maintenance, I will probably be able to do a little less; but right now, I am still trying to lose, so I have to keep the heat on, so to speak. I look forward to the day I can work with my trainer again. I really miss our sessions, which were fun and motivating; but somehow I can't seem to make myself do strength training on my own. I can, however, do cardio. So I do that, every single day.
I am not maintaining yet, but these are the things that I think will work. Tamara, you said you have a hard time finding motivation without seeing the scale go down. But you don't need the scale to go down any more --- now you need to replace that positive motivation with a different kind. And I don't mean fear of the scale going back up. I suggest you try weighing once a week, not every day, to avoid becoming obsessed (or, if it's less intimidating, DO weigh every day, so you can see whether you need to ease up on a particular day). But work on finding lots of little reminders of why you chose to lose weight and how good it feels. Notice the differences in your body. Notice how movement is easier, how clothes fit better, how you fit into places where you didn't before. Enjoy that. Try to find 10 things a day that are better for you than when you had that extra fifty pounds.
Also, you mentioned that you're not happy with your body yet. I started strength training because I did not want to be a "skinny fat person" --- someone who didn't weigh that much but was flabby. And I already have fitness goals beyond weight loss. I want to be able to do P90X one day. I want to work on sculpting my body and making it as good as it can be without surgery (which I can't afford, anyway). Eventually, I want to be a tough old lady who could kick your ass.
So, my second piece of advice to you is, find a fitness goal. It needn't be extreme --- but for example, you could train to run a marathon or hike a challenging trail at your local state park; or just tone up so your arms look great in sleeveless tops, or be able to do yoga. Find something that interests and challenges you, and apply the same determination you did to weight loss. It will keep you focused on health and fitness, and the maintenance will come more naturally.
Those of us who are inclined to overeating will always have to watch it. That part just isn't going to go away. Accepting that is a great comfort to me; because I know now that I can manage it. If I do get out of control (see past several months) I can recover lost ground. The work is never wasted. So get out there and figure out what motivates you, what helps you stay on track, what helps you stay accountable to yourself --- because ultimately, that is the only thing that will continue to work for you.
I know that this isn't from the Refuse to Regain blog but felt it was worth posting here to read.
I see it happen here over and over again, and it does make me sad. Way too many get close to their goal and revert to little or no carbs to get the rest of their weight off
I do not agree with this approach at all.....when that only sets them up for a series of yo-yo-ing.
I was re-reading the Supercharged SBD book as I sat in the sun yesterday. Dr Agatson does point out that the SB pan does not really want us to stay at phase I forever....the plan is designed so that we make an eating plan for life as we move closer to our goal weight by actually moving foreard to phase II and learn how and which carbs to add into our own unique plan. Its key to my long term success that I did follow his words....