Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Diets Do Work—It’s Maintenance Where We Fail

A few months ago, I spent a weekend with some of my weightloss buddies. We got together to celebrate a birthday. It was a perfect storm of get-togetherness.

So what is with this title. 

Well, I have maintained my weight loss for two years. My dream weight is still 10-15 pounds away but maybe that will always be. I think I realized I was in maintenance when I was with these other girls who I cherish. I met them through blogging and can't believe the friendships we have formed. We are all at different points in this “weight” journey but we're there for each other. 

One comment stuck that weekend as I stared puzzled into the pool. “I don’t compare myself to anyone. We are all different”. 
My dream number!

I felt guilty that I had struggled mightily to lose 40 pounds when some of you were hitting 100 pound or more losses. I have so wanted to post the picture I have of “50”. It was my dream. I did reach 49 pounds down 18 months ago but couldn't keep there. Those 5 pounds came back and have decided they kind of like living around my waist. My ticker sits at 44 pounds down and has for months. 

But it shouldn’t matter how big our losses are. We really are different. 

The big question is can we keep the weight off. 

I did. Or I have. But it's still one day at a time. 

Some of you may think—look at her—she hardly had any weight to lose. I know the catty thoughts that circulate. I can be catty myself. But constant weight cycling for more than 45 years was killing me. 

And guess what. Maintaining weight is different than losing weight. Yup, it finally hit me. I had been struggling to figure out why I wasn’t losing weight. I realized I had lost sight of the fact that I hadn’t gained any weight

I came across this quote by some doctor about Weight Loss vs Weight Maintenance which really said it all: 

“It seems somewhat similar to love and marriage. What gets you to the altar is likely to be quite different than what keeps you married in the long-term.

 [And] not recognizing this transition and adapting with different practices will also get you in trouble.”

Almost any diet out there—Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach, Biggest Loser, drugs, bulimia, WLS—will help a person lose weight. 

But maintaining is different.

So what's the difference between maintaining and losing weight, even if you are not at that magic number you want as your “goal”? 

Dieting down to an ideal weight is work. You can't just quit doing all the things that got you there. I'm here to tell you and research backs me up that staying at a healthy weight requires effort, exercise and a long-term focus. But
  • You do not have to exercise 2 hours a day. Unless you want to. 
  • You do not have to count calories or track every morsel that passes through your mouth. Unless you want to. 
  • You do not have to “think” about food all the time. Unless you want to. 
  • You do have to figure out what works for you. 
If you don't change those new habits you won't keep the weight off—they take time but eventually it becomes a way of life. This chart I found says it all. 

What’s the difference? 
Weight loss
Weight maintenance
Temporary; short term
Ranges from slow and steady or rapid.
What speed? I’m already here! The time is now!
Amount of change
Small to large changes. May “fall off the wagon” bigtime and backslide significantly.
Very small changes; awareness of slight fluctuations in weight from day to day. Quickly responds to very small deviations; gets back on track rapidly with little harm done.
Potential mindset
Learn new habits. “Get ‘er done”. Deprivation, limiting options.
Stick with good habits already learned. Patience. Persistence. Continuous adjustment. Flexibility within reason.
Composition of diet
Can range dramatically: low fat, low carb, Mediterranean, etc. Often a focus on strictly eliminating or limiting a certain macronutrient, or eating “special foods” (e.g. grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet).
Some variation, but most importantly, all involve careful monitoring and self-awareness.
Must be an eating pattern that can be sustained for life.
Typical   actions
Regular observation and monitoring. Regular exercise. Focus on food choices.
Daily observation and monitoring—including weigh-ins. Regular exercise. Ongoing, habitual healthy food choices

And one more finding: 62% of successful weight maintainers watch less than 10 hours of TV per week. Turn off the TV!

I'm in Maintenance and damn proud of it.

And maybe one day, I'll tweak some of the habits I've learned and lose those last 10 pounds.


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Lap Band Gal said...

love, love, love this post! :)

speck said...

Great post Sandy. I know it's just a number but I hope you see that 50! If not, 45 isn't bad!

♫ Drazil ♪ said...

You are beautiful exactly as you are. I love you.

adorkbl said...

Great post!! I hope you see your 50... because it is the "dream" but happy that you are happy with your success and your maintenance! :)

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