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Old 03-14-2008, 12:17 PM   #1
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Default Why Are We Different? Why Are We Beating The Odds?

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Old 03-14-2008, 12:41 PM   #2
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Ah, if only those pounds could avoid finding us back on the first attempt, right.

My take on this is that dieting is easy. There's a starting point, an end, and there--when you know it ends in XX weeks/months, it's easier to bear. It's way less easier to envision it as a lifestyle change, something you can go on with forever. Human beings in general are all up for hard work, but only when it doesn't last too long, I guess.

That said, I don't know where I stand, myself. Somehow, I do all the contrary of the traditional "regain the weight plus some". I lose, regain a little, but never as much as I used to weight, then I lose and get to a lower weight than I was after my first attempt... etc. (Maybe it's just a sure sign that I'm slowly but steadily 'integrating' all those tools and new eating/exercising habits? Hm...)

...Maybe that's why people here succeed. Because they've acknowledged and accepted that they need to form new habits/behaviours, and can't go back to the old ones "after my diet is over". Support and tools are something everybody can use; however, not everybody is ready to use these until their dying day.
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Old 03-14-2008, 01:39 PM   #3
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I've only been maintaining for a year and a half (just got accepted into the NWCR this week) so I'm not sure I really count myself as an exception to the 95% rule yet. I constantly worry that I won't be able to maintain my weight loss over the long term and articles like this don't make me feel any less panicked about it.

One important factor that has made this weight loss/maintenance attempt far more successful than any in the past is my personal trainer. The exercise motivates me in ways that are hard to describe. It's not just that I burn extra calories and build muscle, increasing my metabolism through exercise. It's much more than that. Exercise really helps me keep my eating on track. If I have a day where my eating is starting to get out of control, sometimes going into the gym to exercise will help get things back under control. And I know that on a daily basis, exercising makes it easier to stick to my calorie plan. I can't explain why it works, but it does. Also, the confidence that my trainer shows in me is also critical. He never appears worried that I'll gain the weight back and if I do gain some back, he never seems worried that I won't be able to lose it again. Having someone who believes that I can do this has been really important--without his belief in me, I would never have even tried to lose weight. Also, my trainer just has a completely different attitude towards eating and weight loss than I did growing up or than my friends do now. The expectations that he has for me, which are far higher than my own expectations or my friends' expectations, also really help keep me on track. I orginally thought I would just do the training for a few months, but now I'm thinking I'll continue it indefinitely. It's expensive but it's completely turned my life around. There are very few things I buy that I can say that about.

I also think that discipline and making a conscious choice to be thin has a lot to do with it. I just finally decided that I wanted to be thin more than I wanted to eat whatever and not exercise. Exercising has gotten to be pretty automatic and easy, but I struggle with eating all the time. And there definitely days when I wish I could eat without thinking, like I used to. But if I do that, I also know I'll be back where I started pretty quickly in terms of my weight. In the end, I'm so much happier with how I look and I feel so much better about myself that I would still rather be thin than eat the way I used to. So I consciously choose to stay on plan. But it's tough and I can definitely see why some people choose a different road. If how I feel about myself weren't so tied to how I look, maybe I would let myself gain back some weight as well.
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:47 PM   #4
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I agree with all three of you! I think it is a combination of having group support, having examples of people who are succeeding (like Meg and Mel!), knowing that there is no day you are ever going to be "done" dieting (or even better, not calling it a "diet" in the first place), and exercise are all key.

I have lost weight and gained it all back plus more. You know what happened? I was on summer break from college, living alone in an apartment, and I decided to lose weight. I wanted to weigh 150lbs (I was 180 or so at the time). I knew when I went back to school I'd be eating cafeteria food. So I went on a ridiculous very-low-cal diet without having a clue what I was doing, used slim-fast excessively, still didn't exercise at all, and what do you know, by the end of the summer I weighed 150. The day I saw that on the scale I thought, "Finally! Now I can eat like normal again." I immediately gained it all right back plus extra for good measure.

This time, I found 3FC, and started going to the gym with DH (BF at the time). I learned from the forums that there is a thing called maintenance, and that you have to change your lifestyle permanently. I quit the radical dieting and switched to making recipes from cooking light and counting my calories, plus working out 3-5 days a week. Who knew I'd love healthy food? Who knew exercise could be FUN?

I took a hiatus from 3FC for a while after reaching goal. It didn't work so well, so I came back. Accountability where I log my food is very important for me, as is regularly talking to people who are keeping it off. If I don't exercise, I feel like crap, and I eat crap. If I do exercise, I feel great and eat great.
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Old 03-14-2008, 03:12 PM   #5
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In my opinion, few people are really able to change how they eat forever and to change to a way of eating that is different than a huge portion of the population. It's a lifetime commitment to: cooking more, portion control, calorie awareness, label reading and you pretty much have to get off the "instant gratification" culture of fast food, grab and go, frozen and prepared or packaged meals. It's tough to eat healthy as a lifestyle AND it's tough to be DIFFERENT.

Who wants to be the freak that practically screams GET AWAY YOU CRACKPUSHER to a girl scout outside the grocery store? (I did manage to mostly contain myself..mostly).
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Old 03-14-2008, 03:52 PM   #6
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It's tough to be different --> Uh. Hear, hear! That's me just ranting a little, but since I'm really trying these days to listen to my body and eat intuitively, I don't know what's gotten into people, it's like they can't recognize healthy eating anymore when it stares at them in the face. Seriously, what's wrong with eating more vegetables than potatoes or greasy pasta? That's not "starving myself", that's "eating a balanced meal".
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:03 PM   #7
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How many people do not even come to the maintainers forum because (despite a substantial weight loss) they are not at goal?

Whatever "goal" is ... chosen? imposed? directed?

I'm sure there are people out there who have maintained losses of 50 or more pounds for very long periods of time. They just don't fit in a statistical slot.
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:06 PM   #8
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You're right, Kery, it's a sad world we live in when healthy eating is considered to be freakish and obsessive.

I agree with all your excellent points. Barbara, I'm the same way about how exercise keeps my eating on track. Like you, I don't know why it is, but if I start the day at the gym, then chances are very good that my eating will stay on track all day. Otherwise -- danger!! And like you, I'm still panicked about keeping the weight off, even almost six years out from goal. Believe me, I'm terrified of regain and don't in the least consider myself to be immune. But I never want to lose that fear because I think complacency is the first step down the slippery slope to regain.

Do you ever worry about scaring people off when we say that the diet (or "lifestyle") is forever? Sometimes I feel like I should shut up about still counting calories, using Fitday, weighing out my PB, and all my gym time because someone who's starting is going to look at my life and give up before they start. Of course, it's all a natural part of my life now and as Jessica said, it's actually fun and rewarding (who knew! ), but are people going to run screaming if they think they're going to be dieting for the rest of their lives? Or is it better to see the reality of maintenance from the start?

Glory, thank you for the best laugh of the day!
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:10 PM   #9
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How many people do not even come to the maintainers forum because (despite a substantial weight loss) they are not at goal?

Whatever "goal" is ... chosen? imposed? directed?

I'm sure there are people out there who have maintained losses of 50 or more pounds for very long periods of time. They just don't fit in a statistical slot.
That's the thing, Susan -- the studies talking about regain don't focus on people who have lost down to a normal BMI. They look at people who have lost any amount of weight and whether they can keep it off. And the statistics are still dismal. Even the NWCR doesn't ask for someone to be at a normal weight to join. Their only requirement is that you've lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year.

I totally agree that someone's goal is entirely personal. It doesn't make the slightest difference to me if someone says that their goal is 225 pounds and then they chose to maintain at that point. The challenge is always going to be in the maintaining.

Every pound lost is worth maintaining.
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:13 PM   #10
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I read this with great interest. I've asked myself many times why I think I can beat the odds when as you are saying, everything and everyone says it can't be done. I am new to maintaining, having only been in this stage about 9 months now, so I take nothing for granted. But for me losing weight came only after I had cleared up some serious lifelong issues and I think the same methods I applied to my recovery (and still apply daily) just bolsters my work on my weight. To be honest, weight loss was a piece of cake (literally and figuratively!) compared to all the other work I've done, and I'm truly grateful for the stage of life I am now in. It's great to be normal, that's all I am asking! And I'm really willing to do whatever it takes to keep myself in this place.

OK, enough seriousness! I think I succeed because my husband has lost a lot of weight as well and we support each other; I've work to ignore anyone and anything that doesn't fit into my plan (love the remark about the Girl Scouts, I've felt exactly the same way!); I make time every day to evaluate how I am doing and what could be improved; forgive myself for slips but not let them turn into a relapse; I keep my "recovery" at the top of my list; I have to follow a certain diet for diabetes reasons, which has turned out to be a good thing, strangely; and I REALLY like to exercise (who would have thought???).

Now I don't mean to sound self-righteous and like I am perfect, esp. as I don't have that much time in maintenance, but I do know the drill, can't pretend I don't. That's the bottom line with me, staying honest with myself. If I can do that, I can keep going.
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:28 PM   #11
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Ah but see Meg, that's what makes our maintainers forum different.

I know a gal who lost 40 or 50 lbs having a hip replacement and some surgical revision. As far as I'm concerned that is amazing and noteworthy. But she knows she's still big. Unless I got the NWCR paperwork for her and stuck it under her nose, she'd never believe she was so remarkable.

Of course she would if she hung out here at 3FC
How would any of us know about the NWCR unless we'd heard it here?
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:32 PM   #12
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Seriously, these days, I think taking part in the Maintainers forum (even though I'm not at goal) is helping me more than browsing the rest of the forums. I have no idea why. But I'm sure it could help lots of other people too.
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Do you ever worry about scaring people off when we say that the diet (or "lifestyle") is forever? Sometimes I feel like I should shut up about still counting calories, using Fitday, weighing out my PB, and all my gym time because someone who's starting is going to look at my life and give up before they start.
It's true and I've definitely experienced this. When people hear what I do to lose/maintain weight, they do sometimes get scared off. I'm not sure how to handle it. I'll talk about having a trainer and what I do for exercise, but I usually won't go into details on my eating unless people really press me on it. It just sounds so extreme, even though it isn't really that hard.

And definitely something that makes this time different for me and that makes all of us unique is that we have made what we plan on being permanent changes to our diets. I wasn't thinking long-term when I started, I just got lucky in the beginning and picked a weight loss method that I can sustain (although, even then I knew that low carb diets weren't for me). But I pretty quickly figured out that I needed to make permanent changes and now I don't make any changes to my diet that I don't think I can sustain over the long term. So many people make the mistake of thinking dietary changes are temporary. Even here on 3FC, I read posts from members that are trying something that isn't sustainable (Special K diet, fasting, super high protein diets).

And speaking of Girl Scout cookies, please excuse me while I rant for a moment. I've thought for a while that the Girl Scouts are creating a nation of girls that are destined to have eating disorders. Honestly, do they have to sell cookies? What percentage of teenage girls struggle with food issues? How many of them sold girl scout cookies at one point in their lives. I know Girl Scout cookies aren't solely responsible for problem, but even so, can't the Girl Scouts find something to sell that doesn't involve sugar and fat?
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Old 03-14-2008, 05:12 PM   #14
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Honestly, do they have to sell cookies? . . . can't the Girl Scouts find something to sell that doesn't involve sugar and fat?
Selling cookies has been a Girl Scout tradition forever. And they do sell other things (we sold calendars, too), but cookies sell the best and given that it's a non-profit agency, they're going to go with what nets them the biggest bucks. Frankly, I can't fault them for that.

What I do is pay for a couple of boxes and donate them back to the troop so I never actually touch a box of Girl Scout cookies. Some troops will take those donated boxes to homeless shelters and food banks, and I think others will just resell them.
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Old 03-14-2008, 05:16 PM   #15
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That's the thing, Susan -- the studies talking about regain don't focus on people who have lost down to a normal BMI. They look at people who have lost any amount of weight and whether they can keep it off. And the statistics are still dismal. Even the NWCR doesn't ask for someone to be at a normal weight to join. Their only requirement is that you've lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year.
I think this is a big part of the problem. We expect perfection. What is success? A bikini body? A "normal" BMI? Or is it a 10% reduction in cholesterol levels? A heart attack that is delayed 10 years? Being able to play with your children? Somebody who lost 100 lbs, but gained 50 back and settled in there, and is therefore still 50 lbs down? We fall prey to the tyranny of the goal weight. We didn't achieve perfection, even self-defined perfection, or drifted away from it, so why bother?

I don't have a "normal" BMI. I'm not even at the lowest weight I ever got to, i.e. I regained some weight. Too damn bad. I can do things I never dreamed I would do a decade ago. I lost more than 100 pounds and kept it off for 5 years, and if that isn't good enough for somebody they are welcome to kiss my well-endowed behind.

I'm not actually trying to be confrontational here, especially to Meg (even though I shameless quoted her post) because I know she gets it. I'm mad as **** about discrepancy between real success in terms of health and lifestyle, and the push of our culture that says I must be thin to be happy and successful, and if I don't have a BMI of 22 with 17% body fat, well then I need not apply. Just give up now, and please pass the Doritos. Sigh.

The people I know in real life who have been successful with maintaining weight loss in the long term have made modest, sustainable changes to their lives. They never got to a goal weight which would put them in a 'thin' category, but their health and quality of life are measurably better than before. And they are smart enough to know that life is not all or nothing, and that better is better, and, yes, hard-headed enough to be confident in themselves in the face of society's pressure. SusanB's friend is the perfect example of the undocumented success that is out there if we look for it. And no, none of the successful people I know are in the NWCR either.

OK, off the soapbox.

I actually don't think of myself as a maintainer--weight is never ever static. I go up and down, sometimes substantially, as the facts of my life change, as this pregnancy so clearly illustrates. But I will never be morbidly obese again, and to make sure that happens I have to actively manage my weight.

Speaking for nobody but myself, here's why I think I'm successful at achieving my own goals:
  • I think of weight loss in terms of months and years (and sometimes decades) instead of days and weeks.
  • I've given up an all or nothing approach to weight loss I had when I was younger.
  • My goals are now about what I can do, rather than what the number on the scale says.
  • I exercise consistently.
  • I make more good food choices than bad ones.
  • I'm (usually) willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for a longer term plan.

Anne
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