Four years ago today was the magical and wondrous day that I reached my goal weight. I’ve written a little bit about what I‘ve learned about maintenance on each anniversary, so I thought I’d check in with Year 4 today.
I wouldn’t change a word of what I wrote about Years 1 – 3:
Today Is My One Year Anniversary
Today Is My Second Anniversary
Today is My Third Anniversary
… every bit is as true today as when I wrote it. Maintenance IS harder than losing and it takes constant vigilance. That’s old news. So what’s been new and different for me in Year 4?
Finding A Way
This may have been the most challenging year of my maintenance yet, primarily due to tearing my rotator cuff
last August. The result was constant pain and a severe limitation on working out until January, when I had surgery to reattach the tendon to the bone. My right arm was completely immobilized in a sling for the first six weeks after surgery and for the next six weeks I couldn’t lift anything at all, not even a glass of water. It’s been four months since surgery and I’m only now beginning to regain some strength (and being able to sleep at night). It’s been a long, tough road.
As a result, my body fell to pieces when I couldn’t work out as usual. Back fat! Rolls of flab hanging over my bra! Weight gain! I looked like a melted candle. Ugh and yuck, despite being scrupulous with diet and cardio. What a valuable lesson in how important weightlifting is to my exercise routine and successful maintenance! I’ve often said that weightlifting is the Fountain of Youth for women and I got to experience the converse – NOT weightlifting is the Swamp of Fat and Sloth.
But all through the months of physical therapy and pain, I kept saying to myself: ‘If you want it, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.’
It would have been so easy to have used the surgery as an excuse to quit exercising … to have a few treats ‘because I deserve them’ or because my shoulder hurt … to resolve to start again after my rehab was over. But FIND A WAY
became my mantra. My sling and I were back on the exercise bike a week after surgery for an hour/day (it was the only exercise that I was allowed to do for the first six weeks). I religiously did my physical therapy exercises twice a day, every day. As soon as I got the OK, I was back on the elliptical and later, back to light workouts. I counted calories, weighed and measured my food, and logged it into Fitday. I simply REFUSED to allow an injury to sabotage my maintenance. I ‘found a way’.
It would have been infinitely easier to ‘find an excuse’. I hurt all the time, I was exhausted, everything - from showering to tying my gym shoes with one hand - was just so so hard. But we’re all going to have curve balls thrown at us in life. Illness, injury, death, upheaval, and changes. In every one of those situations, we can find an excuse to eat off-plan and stop exercising. Or we can find a way to make it work. The choice is ours. Lesson #1 that I learned this year was how to find a way instead of finding an excuse.
Growing A Thick Skin
This past year is also the one in which I finally grew a thick skin. We’ve talked a lot in Maintainers about the comments we seem to attract about being ‘obsessed’ and ‘unbalanced’ about weight loss and exercise. Personally, I’m continually baffled and amazed by people who feel the need to tell me that I’m doing maintenance ‘wrong’. Oh, gee, you think it’s ‘unbalanced’ to go to the gym every day? Or that it’s ‘wrong’ to still count calories? Yikes, you say I’m ‘obsessed ‘with my appearance? You think that there’s a ‘right’ way and a ‘wrong’ way to lose weight and by golly, you want to set me straight on the errors of my ways?
I guess I’ve just finally had enough. I’ve been stabbed in the back one too many times with supposedly well-intentioned ‘advice’. Hey world – here’s a message for you: I don’t care what you think. Save your breath because I’m not listening any longer.
The bottom line is that I’ve managed to do what most overweight people only dream about. I’ve lost more than 120 pounds with healthy diet and exercise and kept if off for four years now. Hey now, do you think that maybe – just maybe – I might be doing something right
? That maybe I know what I’m doing? And that I don’t need unsolicited advice about what I’m doing wrong and how your way is better?
Sure, it’s easy to see that those who criticize us are usually jealous of our successes and it’s their issue, not ours. MrsJim has talked before about the ‘crab bucket’ syndrome – that the crabs in a bucket will pull down the ones who climb to the top and try to escape. Likewise, those who criticize and point fingers at the ones who succeed are usually the ones who are unhappy with their own weight and appearance. I guess they have to try to tear us down to feel better about themselves. But it still can sting.
You know what? I don’t care any more. I seriously don’t care at all about what anyone thinks about how I’m living my life. I’ve grown a really thick skin this year and all that matters to me is that I’m happy, healthy, and keeping the weight off. Lesson #2 that I learned this year is that life is way too short to live it to fulfill other people’s peculiar ideas of what’s right and wrong.
If you’re a maintainer, then by definition you’ve discovered your own unique way to successfully lose weight and keep it off. Chances are it’s different from almost anyone else’s way. But it works for you
and that’s all that counts. Don’t give anyone the permission to question what you know is right for YOU! Join me in growing a thick skin and letting all those little vicious jabs roll right off your back! It’s a great feeling.
Doing Whatever It Takes
The end of my fourth year of maintenance also leaves me with a rock-solid and unshakeable confidence in my ability to keep the weight off. It’s feeling that’s grown stronger with each passing year - what a contrast with my first year of maintenance! In the months after I reached goal, I was petrified about regaining weight and - crazy though it seems – I even worried that I’d gain back 50 pounds or so overnight. But can you blame me? How many people do YOU know in Real Life who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off? I sure don’t know many – heck, let’s try ‘any’.
But I’ve come to realize, over the years, that weight loss and weight loss maintenance are all about choices. And all choices have price tags. You can boil it down to a simple question: are you willing to pay the price? So you want to lose 100 pounds … are you willing to invest the time in the gym and effort in meal planning and calorie counting that it would take? Are you willing to say NO over and over again? And do it for the rest of your life? On the other hand, let’s say you’re craving a hot fudge sundae … are you willing to pay that price, whether it’s the scale going up or two hours of cardio?
Lots of people WANT to lose weight but aren’t ready or willing to pay the price. Wishes and dreams don’t melt fat off our butts, unfortunately. It takes sweat, determination, patience, perseverance, planning, hard work, and sacrifice to lose weight and keep it off. Losing weight isn’t easy and it’s definitely not ‘comfortable’. But that’s the reality of weight loss and maintenance, like it or not. We’re faced with literally hundreds of choices every day that impact our weight – what to eat, how much to eat, when to say no, what and how much to exercise etc. It’s all about choices -- and they all have price tags attached.
What does all this have to do with maintenance? For me, keeping these 120 pounds off is worth just about any price. I’m willing to do whatever it takes
to maintain my weight loss. I know the odds are stacked against me – I know that 95% of losers regain their lost weight. But this is just too important to screw up. The stakes couldn't be higher -- it feels like a matter of life and death to me. So when I look at my choices and consider the price tags that are attached, I tell myself that I’ll do whatever it takes. I choose not to be fat and I’ll do whatever it takes.
Do I want that chocolate buffet? Box of Girl Scout cookies? Pizza? Do I want to roll over at 5 am and forget the gym? Take the elevator instead of the stairs? Lift a lighter weight? Of course I do! Scratch the surface and I’m still an obese couch potato at heart.
But … there’s a price tag attached to all those choices and I’m NOT willing to pay the price. I’m the only one who can make me fat again and I’m not gonna do it. Been there, done that, and it sucked.
So Lesson #3 of this fourth year of maintenance is discovering that I’m absolutely willing to do whatever it takes to keep from gaining the weight back. And that’s what gives me the confidence, down to the very core of my soul, of knowing that I won’t get fat again. I’m in control, I’m the one driving this car, I’m calling the shots and I’m not getting fat again. You can chisel ‘Whatever It Takes’
on my tombstone –- right next to ‘Find A Way’
As always, so much of the credit for another successful year of maintenance goes to all of you. I may not have role models for maintenance in Real Life, but 3FC is bursting at the seams with incredible and inspirational stories of weight loss and maintenance. You all are the wind beneath my wings and like it or not, I’ll be back a year from today and posting about my fifth anniversary of reaching goal. Love you all!