The Maintenance Library - TFL Key #3: Do It Your Way

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01-23-2005, 09:37 AM
Key To Success #3: Do It Your Way

The focus of chapter 3 of Thin For Life is how to pick the right diet for weight loss and the message is loud and clear – do it your way! This concept is going to sound very familiar to us here at Maintainers since we’ve discussed this point over and over again – the best diet is the one that comfortably fits your life and that you can follow for the rest of your life.

Both Anne Fletcher’s weight loss masters and NWCR study participants split about evenly between people who lost weight on their own plans and those who were ‘program people’. Not surprisingly, just about every successful maintainer incorporated exercise into their weight loss plan. It’s interesting to note that: “Very few masters lost weight following fad diets. None attributed their success to diet pills.” So the book’s conclusion (p 63) is that: As much as I’d like to tell you that there is one 'right' way to lose weight, the bottom line, when it comes to selecting a plan to get the weight off, is that the process is highly individual.

The book then discusses a very interesting study (pp 64-65) that compared women who had maintained their weight losses with women who had regained lost weight. The maintainers were successful because they ‘devised personal plans to fit their lives’. These plans frequently included exercise and a lower calorie, healthier style of eating. In contrast, the regainers often hadn’t exercised to lose weight and were more likely to have lost weight through ‘appetite suppressants and shots, fasting, going to weight control groups or hypnosis, or by going on diets described in books or magazines’. The maintainers were more self-reliant and had lost their weight on plans that they could live with permanently. So the lesson here is - do it your way - so that it’s your plan and you are in control.

The book then switches gears and addresses those of us who have failed at diets over and over again (pp 65-68). Is there any hope of getting to goal after so many years of diet failure? [YES! – from my personal experience! :D ] The book suggests a shift in how we look at our past diet history – rather than as a string of failures, it’s ‘a rich library of what worked and what did not’. Each time you lost and regained weight, you learned something and the book suggests actually writing it down: make two lists - What Worked and What Didn’t Work. Put the things that worked together into a program that works for you or consider going back to whatever plan you had the most success following in the past. There isn’t one right diet for everyone and we each need to find (or devise) our own ‘Right Match’.

Pages 72 - 74 list twelve factors to consider as you evaluate diet plans, ranging from how much exercise is required to whether there’s a maintenance component to the plan. Following those are eight red flags that should make us run screaming away from a plan. Anyone considering following a diet plan would be well-advised to consult both these lists!

The Mathematics of Weight loss is the next section (pp 75-77) and yep, it’s all about calories in versus calories out. All of our metabolisms are different but in the end, the only way to lose fat is to eat fewer calories than we burn.

The book then goes on to set some safety guidelines for diets, discussing calories and nutrient levels. The author’s bias in favor of the recently replaced food pyramid and low-fat dieting starts to appear here and is apparent throughout the rest of the book. Pages 80 – 85 evaluate low-carb diets (not very favorably), the glycemic index, and insulin resistance. Pages 86 – 90 discuss weight loss surgery and prescription drugs and nonprescription supplements.

At the end of the chapter, the book makes a very important point: give yourself time to lose the weight. You know how we always hear that we didn’t gain it in a month so why should we expect to lose it that fast? “Duration of treatment” (how long you follow a diet) is the single most important factor associated with weight loss. In other words, pick a plan and stick to it!

To sum up this chapter, the message here is: figure out what’s worked for you in the past and what fits your life now, find a healthy plan that matches your needs and likes or just make up your own, and stick to it like glue. Really, when you think about it - how can you possibly fail to meet your goal if you just don’t ever quit? ;)

One final note – recently we here in Maintainers conducted our own little unscientific experiment about how we lost the weight How Did You Lose The Weight? ( More than half of our respondents were non-program people and lost their weight on their own plans or through a combination of other plans. So our results reinforce the message in Key #3 – do it your way.

It would be interesting to hear your strategy for losing/having lost the weight and how you came up with your plan. Why does it work for you? How much did your past diet history affect what you do now? Are you afraid to change what isn’t working? Do you feel like you can live this way for the rest of your life?

01-25-2005, 12:30 PM
Oh, dear. I missed number two. :yikes:
Back soon, Meg...

01-25-2005, 01:18 PM
I finally got my edition of TFL last week and have since gotten caught up on the chapters I've missed. I'm really enjoying it and only wish I had read it years ago!

I don't believe there can ever be a one size fits all weight loss plan. We are all unique individuals and should only do specifically what works for us, whether it be a structured program or a plan we devise on our own. Personally, I was/am too cheep and antisocial to join a program with dues and meetings, etc. So I came up with a plan based on everything that I've learned works and doesn't work for me, from my past failed attempts. As she said in the book, rather than look at it as a string of failures, it can be ‘a rich library of what worked and what did not’. I also knew I had to do something that I could make work within my family structure because lemme tell ya, there was/is no way my husband was about to jump on board with this. He likes his food and lots of it!! So I was still eating some of the same things, while focusing a lot on portion control.

So, I really liked how this chapter started out, with emphasis on finding what works for you. But, I must admit I got a little antsy when she started delving into the various programs and such. I guess, just because I already have a good handle on what works for me and I’m past the point of finding the best plan. But I can see how very helpful this will be to those just starting out. It’s also for this reason that I may just skip over the parts of the next chapter that go into the 6-week plan, but the first half of the chapter looks to be very interesting, and I’m looking forward to getting started on it!

Thanks again for the summary Meg, I don't see how you find the time!


01-27-2005, 10:58 AM
I am really enjoying reading this book and I beleive it has helped me get back to where I need to be with my weight loss. After having reached my goal I had some difficulty with the maintance part and I wish I had this book then. So I am now using my WW program but doing it myself with some minor changes and in the past few weeks have lost 4 lbs. I would really like to be back to my goal by May when I go to Quebec with my son's grade eight class, I know I can do this and the book is helping me to see that.

01-29-2005, 10:26 AM
Interesting... I think this relates back to what we were talking about in an earlier thread. "Is this a lifestyle?" Because I think that if you're following your own plan according to what you've learned is right for you, then it is a lifestyle.
For me, if I'm religiously following a plan to lose weight (I'm on WW right now, doing the Flex plan), then it's not a lifestyle.
I've gone back to WWs because a) I've had success with it in the past, b) I know that I can eat whatever I want as long as I track it and count it, and c) it serves to get me back on track, and teaches my body that it's going to receive only what is an acceptable amount of food.
The "eating whatever I want" part is very important to me. I wouldn't want to think that I could never have chips or chocolate again. Or bread and butter. But my body does learn to accept less of the bad foods. Instead of devouring a large bag of chips a day, I can be content with the occasional small bag.
I might still crave KFC, but when I have it once every couple of years, I think, "UGH! Greasey!!"
The unfortunate thing for me with losing weight is that I need someone to tell me to do it. I know it all... I know the health benefits, I have all the information, and I'm not a fool, but I just can't seem to do it alone. Deep down I'm lazy and greedy. And I'm an emotional eater. Yes, those are negative thoughts, but that's the way it is.
I've "taught" my WW leader to say to me after my weigh-in, "I want you to track your foods for 5 days this week." If she doesn't say it, I won't do it.
I know that once I've gotten back to a reasonable weight, I'll continue to use all of the skills I've got to stay that way. But right now, I need a regimented plan to get me going.

01-29-2005, 10:33 AM
I should have read this book years ago! And as usual: great work summarizing the chapter, Meg!

I’m still trying to find my way through losing weight for good, but I definitely do things differently this time. Before I started losing weight I knew I had to find a way to lose the weight slowly, so I needed to eat in a way I could keep up for a long time.
I had been keeping food journals before, but this time I calculated calories too (and was shocked to see that on my earlier “good days” I ate around 2000-2200! No wonder I didn’t lose any weight!). So the first step was to figure out how I could eat well and keep within 1500 calories a day – it’s an ongoing process to figure out what I need to cut out, what to reduce, and what to keep in. For instance: I did cut sugar and raisins from my morning oatmeal – and left the cinnamon, banana, and milk – and I still have days I miss the raisins. These days I’m maintaining at 1800-1900 calories and can eat the damn raisins if I want to – but I didn’t want to spend calories on them while losing weight.
I do have numerous emotional issues around having been fat most of my life, and I also have had some really bad experiences - being out of control - when I lost a lot of weight, so I knew I needed to lose weight in stages. And to spend time getting used to my body at each stage. I did feel thin at this weight when I reached it last summer, but after 5 months I feel fat, normal, and like myself again. I’m also slowly getting to a point where I want to lose more weight.

As for “Thin for life”, I think chapter 3 is one of my favorites – and I love Fletcher’s emphasis on finding our own way, finding out what works for us, and use our past history as very useful information to base our choices on. Probably because that’s what I did this time – and it worked for me.

And do I feel like I can live this way for the rest of my life?
When I started out I thought that I could use maintenance as a measure of my goal weight – when maintaining at a weight becomes too hard: it means I’m too thin. Find the weight where maintenance is easy!
But I’m not sure maintenance is ever easy: I have been struggling with it anyway – on some days I really don’t like the idea of living (and eating) with the limitations (yeah, I know: grow up! ;) ) – on other days I’m OK living like this for the rest of my life. So yes - ongoing process I suppose. :^:

01-29-2005, 10:44 AM
ellis - you snuck in right in front of me! :D

The "eating whatever I want" part is very important to me. I wouldn't want to think that I could never have chips or chocolate again. Or bread and butter. But my body does learn to accept less of the bad foods. Instead of devouring a large bag of chips a day, I can be content with the occasional small bag. This is exactly why I chose to count calories too! When I have cravings for a chocolate cookie, I need to feel that I can eat it without feeling like I failed everything!
So I do eat the cookie, which means that I have a lot less calories for the rest of the day – and probably will have to eat salad for dinner! But hey, the cookie is usually worth it!!! ;)
I’m relearning the whole thing about actions (eating cookies) having consequences (less calories for dinner)! Maybe I’m finally growing up? :p

01-29-2005, 11:18 AM
I’m relearning the whole thing about actions (eating cookies) having consequences (less calories for dinner)! Maybe I’m finally growing up? :p
Mette, I am so with you re:growing up! :lol: I often think, "What is WRONG with you! Are you an adult or a child!?"
Yesterday I made this incredible choice... I'd gone out for breakfast with a girlfriend (she's overweight, too, and we love to chow down together because we can't do it with our skinny friends), and I'd decided to just enjoy it and count the points. (I did leave the ham and toast on my plate!)
Afterwards, we did a bit of shopping and she wanted to pick up a snack for us to have with coffee at her house. She automatically headed for the cookies, and normally I would have broken down and picked up a bunch of bad stuff, too, but instead I picked up a fruit plate with a healthy dip!
I don't think she was pleased, but I felt that I'd had my "fun for the day" with breakfast, and I (this is so bizarre) wanted to treat my body to something healthy! I don't recall ever doing that before!!

01-29-2005, 12:55 PM
Way to go ellis!!!! :cheer:

It can really be stressful for the friendship when one person changes – I have a couple of overweight girlfriends I used to eat with too, and food became almost the third person in the friendship, because so much of what we did together centered around eating.
It’s another one of those issues I now have to deal with: eating out of my needs instead out of my friend’s expectations. I think you did really great yesterday, ellis! Keep up the good choices!!! :hat:

01-31-2005, 09:20 AM
When I decided that enough was enough and it was time to drop those pounds, I went back to weight watchers where I'd lost successfully before. I had no thoughts about this time being different. After a couple of months religiously counting points and journalling every food that passed my lips, I started exercising which was something new to me and I really started to feel good. Sometime after that, Weight Watchers annouced their "core" program which allows you to eat certain foods without counting but I was afraid to trust myself completely and kept counting points for the foods that I ate.
I don't know when or how the change happened but one day, it occurred to me that I had not journalled my foods or counted my points in a couple of weeks. At the time, I was still losing steadily and close to goal so I decided to see where it would take me. I reached my goal several months ago now and I've found that I've settled in to a much healthier lifestyle. As well as exercise, I eat mostly unprocessed, healthy foods. Every once in a while, I have something less than healthy but the next thing I know, I'm craving a big salad or a bowl of warm oatmeal. While I still think about food - what to have for dinner or what to pack in my lunch, I don't find that I obsess about it anymore.
I hope that this means that my new habits have become a lifestyle rather than a 'diet' and that the pounds won't start creeping up on me when I'm not looking but so far, it seems to be getting easier as time goes on. As the scale stays the same, I find that I'm more relaxed and less rigid while still feeling totally in control most of the time (hopefully I'm not deluding myself!). Reading this book has really set my mind at ease because I've always sort of thought that any weight loss or maintenance plan had to be written down in a book by some expert and rigidly followed. It's a relief to know that real people actually maintain a normal weight by just doing sensible things!

01-31-2005, 11:18 AM
Thanks, Mette. :grouphug:
It's really difficult, isn't it... it's like I don't want to disappoint my chubby friends by eating healthy, because I KNOW how disappointing it is to "go out with a skinny friend for a salad". :rolleyes:

Barb, that is so inspiring... thanks for sharing it with us! :yes: You really are living a "lifestyle"!! :hat:

01-31-2005, 01:31 PM
I have looked at the way I stared eating when I joined WW and still do that this is my lifestyle and when I don't eat as I should my body tells me so and it isn't very nice about it. Yeah I have put some back on and I was very dissappointed in myelf because I felt like I could talk the talk but not walk the walk. I let one week away on vacation with my daughter get the better of me, I did not watch what I ate I ate what I wanted sort of maybe more what she wanted I knew it was wrong for me and for her but I did it anyway so it was my fault. So with that and just not getting back on track I woke up one morning and some of the new clothes I had bought myself when I had lost my weight just didn't fit anymore. It has taken me a lillte bit to get back on track but here I am and I have no intention of derailing again and I didn'g go out and buy new clothes to fit me now I just have to make do till I get it off again to get back into my nice. I'm still not attending meetings but following the points. I am too afraid to try the core program for fear of eating out of controll and I tried the whole wheat pasta and the brown rice just can't do it, I have made lots of changes just can't do that one. I am thinking of buying the Thin for Life Journal has anyone bought that and do you like it.

01-31-2005, 04:44 PM
Dollar, it's so easy to have a slip-up like that, and it really costs us. You'll get it back off, hon. You have the skills... keep working on the willpower... you can do this! :grouphug:

04-15-2006, 10:23 AM
Two quotes that really stand out for me in this chapter.

"I realized that the way I ate had to match where I came from culturally."

Whatever you choose, you have to find a way to make it your own- so it's your plan and you're in control."

There are things that I absolutely cannot do. Won't do. I know they really work for others, but even if I could get them to work for me, I know I wouldn't even try.

One is counting calories. I eat some very different dishes in which ingredients are not even on Fitday. Some ingredients that I dont' even know the name of in English.

Another problem with counting calories for me was the portions. Many family meals we eat (my family now.. not the family I grew up with) are with shared side dishes and chop sticks. Various little dishes that are meant to be eaten in very small portions. Most side dishes either so salty or spicy that it is difficult to eat too much of them even if you tried.

When I went on my first serious mission a few years ago, I thought calorie counting was essential.. so I put in a lot of effort to do it. It was so time consuming to even find the information I needed.. let alone log.. It added too much stress. I was so miserable trying to sort through it all.

This is the practical side of why I don't count calories.. there is another, .. but I am not up to talking about it yet.

So what do I do. I follow the Mediterranean and Asian lifestyle. Good food, exercise, fresh air, enjoyment out of life. It matches very closely to the foods my family enjoys so it is easy for me to follow and quite enjoyable as long as I am on the watch for bad habits that creep up. And as long as I can recognize complacancy.

For me the thing I most have to be mindful of is exercise. After loosing 40 or so pounds a few years ago, I got jet lag from after a vacation, got sick and was in bed for about a week. After that I couldn't or wouldn't get back into my exercise routine. I always seemed to have an excuse.. "I needed to reserve my energy or I'd have a relapse" "My body needed a break from exercise" "A little vacation from my workouts couldn't do much harm." "I'll just take a few more days off, and start on the weekend" .. one excuse led to another, and the next thing I knew I was eating junk and was fat again.

Meg's question: "Do you feel like you can live this way for the rest of your life?"

If I have learned anything about myself it is that exercise is the key component that keeps me in check. It makes me want to eat well and take care of myself. I have no alternative but to continue it for the rest of my life. No excuses.. no vacations from it.. For the rest of my life.

06-08-2007, 02:06 AM
Notion that really struck me? ...No matter what you weigh, how many times you've lost and regained - you are more knowledgeable now than you were before each weight loss effort of the past. ... You get to be an expert only because you had so many failures.

As for me? my food intake regimen has sort of ... progressed ... from straight calorie counting thru BLF, BFFM, low fat, whole foods ... to a quirky conglomeration of what I like and what works for me .... with treats :D

06-08-2007, 07:35 AM
SusanB - That is so right. And in spite of the setbacks, I honestly think that as long as we use this knowledge to better our situation, it's all a positive experience in the end. (Yes, now I know that if I slip into relapse, I'd better not hide from this place nor from the blogs, because it really doesn't help me 'coming out of the closet' and DOING something about it real quick. :D That, I have learnt!)

I wish I had this book with me now, to also reread some bits. Alas, it's buried in a cardboard box at my parents' from my January move. *sigh*