Living Maintenance general maintenance topics and discussions

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Old 08-24-2007, 05:21 PM   #1  
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Default Maintenance is harder than losing!

Wow! So much great advice here. The "best of" threads that included the views of folks who found that "maintenance is harder than losing" really hit home for me.

5 years ago I lost 80 lbs (in about 10 months) and then kept it off for 2 years after that. Interestingly, before I started eating healthier that time I'd told myself that it might never get easy and I needed to accept that.

However, through the 2 years of maintenance it did start to get a little easier and I started dropping my guard. Not weighing quite as regularly, not journaling food quite as regularly, and both eventually faded away. I did OK for some time after, but in the last 2 years have put 50 lbs back on as I slowly went back to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Thankfully, I came to my senses before I gained it all back (yay!) and have a month now eating and exercising healthfully. Many of the perspectives here are right on for me: I can't stop being vigilant. I do need to accept that it may never be easy and not to become complacent. It's so helpful to read the views of others whose journey seems similar.
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:42 PM   #2  
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Hey - great poster name, a runner, I guess?

It's obvious that maintenance is much much much harder - lots of people lose weight, few people keep it off.

Maintenance is definitely HARDER becuase it never ends. You can take little breaks, a meal, a weekend, a vacation week, but then you have to go right back to it.

Forever.

I have to weigh once a week, I have to keep a running calorie total in my head everyday (I no longer food journal like I used to), I have to keep eating whole foods.

I am reading Rethinking Thin (finally got it from the library and it is pissing me off just as much as I thought it would from the book group discussion) and I am STRUCK by how many times the author describes someone regaining weight like it's a huge insurmountable mystery with stuff like "and then I started eating more calories, and then I quit going to weight watchers, i started eating carbs again." Ya stop your "diet" and start eating like you used to and it's a MYSTERY the weight came back on? It's impossible for people to lose weight and keep it off? (sorry, not a rant for the poster, certainly, just aggravated at the "oh just give up'" quality of that book!!!)

For me, it's a little easier because I am sooo much more knowledgeable now. About me, about food, about nutrition, about eating, about our culture of eating. I know how to make healthy choices in restaurants, I know how to shop, I know how to cook healthy foods, I have the tools necessary to be successful.

I have accepted 100% that I must live this way forever. That is the difference!!!
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:42 PM   #3  
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Originally Posted by atalanta View Post
I can't stop being vigilant. I do need to accept that it may never be easy and not to become complacent.
Well, that's it in a nutshell! Welcome!
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Old 08-24-2007, 06:08 PM   #4  
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I am reading Rethinking Thin (finally got it from the library and it is pissing me off just as much as I thought it would from the book group discussion) and I am STRUCK by how many times the author describes someone regaining weight like it's a huge insurmountable mystery with stuff like "and then I started eating more calories, and then I quit going to weight watchers, i started eating carbs again." Ya stop your "diet" and start eating like you used to and it's a MYSTERY the weight came back on?
I think there is a bit of MYSTERY to it -- but only in the cognitive sense. So many (especially naturally thin) people think that you just have to do something for 30-60 days and bingo, it's a natural habit. Well, some things don't work like that. I ate healthy and exercised for 1000+ days straight. It never became a "natural" unconscious habit.

Our brains outwit us, and that's the real mystery. The mechanics of losing weight (eat less, move more) are something we all know. The problem is keeping it up day after day when our brain is continually trying to get us not to. Imagine if alcohol were a required nutrient and you needed a drink or two a day to survive. How many alcoholics could learn to drink moderately? Imagine if the bookshelves were full of alcohol "diet" books about "just put the glass down between sips". "drink half the glass and then re-evaluate if you really thirsty for more", "save your drinking for the really good stuff". How helpful would that be, really (beyond the very first time the person become aware of such tips)? The problem isn't in the mechanics, it's mental.

Quote:
For me, it's a little easier because I am sooo much more knowledgeable now. About me, about food, about nutrition, about eating, about our culture of eating. I know how to make healthy choices in restaurants, I know how to shop, I know how to cook healthy foods, I have the tools necessary to be successful.
Indeed. One helpful thing I realized is that although I'd relapsed into bad habits, I'm not "starting over". In addition to the basic mechanics of eat less/move more, I know what works for me, I know what a healthy diet is, and I even know lots of cognitive tools for dealing with urges and know to expect that sometimes things will be harder and how to deal with challenging situations, etc.
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Old 08-25-2007, 04:47 AM   #5  
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Welcome, Atalanta! Great posts! Good job on catching the regain before it wiped out all your hard work. That's a victory in itself.

I have to agree that maintenance is harder than losing because, as Glory points out, it takes constant vigilance. It's so easy for one slip-up or lapse in concentration to un-do a week's worth of diet and exercise. And the most exciting reward we get is the scale staying the same and clothes still fitting, which really isn't quite as exciting as the compliments, rush of losing, and thrill of new clothes when we're losing.

I mean, we're working our butts off ... to maintain the status quo??

At the stage of the game where I'm at, everyone is used to me at this weight and they all assume that weight maintenance is just effortless for me. No one sees me planning, journaling, weighing portions, going to the gym every day, restricting calories, and telling myself "no". Maintenance is WORK and I expect it will always be that way for me. And probably you too.

Anyway, we're glad you're here and looking forward to hearing lots more from you.
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Old 08-25-2007, 03:57 PM   #6  
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Atalanta!

My story is much the same as yours, lost nearly 70#, maintained for nearly 3 years, and slowly put a good portion of it back on. Now I'm working to get it off again, and it's much harder this time! My head knows what I need to do, but I'm constantly battling myself. And I know that giving into that is what caused me to gain. Sigh. You'd think we'd get smarter as we get older, but I think my brain is 10 years old in some areas.

Being here really helps! You have good insights, and we're glad to have you join us.
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Old 08-25-2007, 04:37 PM   #7  
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Welcome Atalanta

I often use the analogy to an alcoholic when I talk about why maintenance is so hard for me. You nailed it perfectly.

I've kept my weight off for almost six years now, and there isn't a single day that I don't think about it. I posted a few weeks ago on a thread in another sub-forum (not Maintainers) that I'd been having a hard time with food for a few days and was baffled when another poster reacted with surprise that after all this time I would still have problems. Yes, maintenance is facing the same issues forever. But it really is worth it!

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Old 08-25-2007, 06:34 PM   #8  
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Absolutely right, Mel. Every food issue I ever had, I still have -- and I imagine that I always will. We're never cured. Nope, we simply learn how to manage our food issues with the skills, strategies, and tools we've assembled as we lose the weight. And these are lifetime strategies. There's not a single day that I don't think about working maintenance either. But there's not a single day that I don't wake up full of the joy and wonder of finally, finally defeating the fat monster. Working at maintenance every day versus going back to obesity? A no-brainer.
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Old 08-26-2007, 12:09 AM   #9  
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Thanks for the amazingly warm welcome all!

It was wonderful to read this forum and find that many of my most helfpul resources are held in high regard here: Thin For Life, Mindless Eating, etc.

For those with an academic bent, another one I found insightful is Prochaska, et al, _Changing For Good_. It's about the psychological research into how people make any kind a major behavior change and the stages we go through. Regarding the comparison with alcohol, I think this book is where I first read that about 5% of people with a problem with alcohol are able to quit on their own every year (and 95% are not). 5% are succesful in a type of lifestyle change. Now where have we heard that figure before?
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Old 08-26-2007, 12:15 AM   #10  
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Welcome, atalanta! I've definitely got an academic bent and am a sucker for psychological research and will be interested in this book. You are so right that this is a psychological process as well as a physical one. Sometimes I think the psychological part is the bigger part, too.
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Old 08-26-2007, 12:43 AM   #11  
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Welcome, atalanta! I've definitely got an academic bent and am a sucker for psychological research and will be interested in this book.
Take a look at some of the reviews on amazon for the book.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/cus...ews/038072572X

Here's one (not by me):
I wrote a review of this book a number of months ago. It's now been a year of freedom from bulimia, and I really owe it to the advice in this book. The main thing I'd like to thank Dr. Prochaska for is his hammering home that an addiction is a "Big Deal", that changing it will involve restructuring one's life, giving up behaviors, substituting new ones, etc. And that it "never gets any easier." The worst problem in tackling an addiction is the craving-induced belief that "tomorrow it won't be so hard." I found the first two months to be excruciating, but, following the plan of substitute behaviors I had listed for myself, I was able to make it. I was constantly telling myself "it's NOT going to be easier tomorrow." Dr. Prochaska's emphasis on planning one's recovery is invaluable. And I found his emphasis on exercise to be a primary key. Those endorphins from exercising WILL be necessary! Once again, thanks to Dr.P!!
Sound familiar?
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:41 AM   #12  
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yeah! good stuff.

I always find it funny when I hear people talking about how we form habits in XX days. As if once a new habit is in place there are no more worries. I no have a habit of regular exercise that is coming on 2 years old and it is STILL hard for me to get myself to the gym frequently. Some other habits feel like they are more ingrained, but I'm highly aware of the fact that those new, healthy habits could easily be replaced by less desirable ones.

I feel sometimes like I'm fighting against a current with these healthier habits. It's doable, but you need sure footing and concentration to not be swept downstream!
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Old 08-26-2007, 11:19 AM   #13  
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Two years ago, I was offered a book about weight loss, and it said that we need about 9 weeks to form the good, healthy habits. yeah, riiiight. 9 solid months wouldn't cut it for me --and I'm not so sure that after 9 years, we wouldn't be able to lapse, even if oh so briefly, into a bout of bad habits (because they ARE easier than the good ones, in a way... or at least, they unfortunately are for me).

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Old 08-26-2007, 01:05 PM   #14  
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Hi there atalanta and WELCOME!!!! Glad to have you on board.

Yup, maintaining is definitely harder then losing. If for nothing else, it's a heckuva a lot longer process. It goes on forever.

I'm fairly new to maintaining. But in the short time that I have been at it, I have found it more challenging. I'm still trying to get this down pat in fact. I was soooo incredibly focused while I was in the losing part of my journey. There was nothing that could deter me. Now, that I'm in the maintenance part of the journey, it's like the floodgates have opened up. It's hard, and I'm not sure it's going to get much easier. Food has some kind of hold over me and I have no doubt that it always will. The only good thing about it is that I have indeed set some great habits in place. And I plan to stick with them. Another good thing I have going for me and that gives me reassurance and confidence, is that I am totally and completely LOVING my new thin self and all that it brings about. So no matter how difficult it is to maintain my weightloss - I'm willing to do it. I am not willing to go back to my old lifestyle. Never, ever, EVER.
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Old 08-26-2007, 01:36 PM   #15  
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I am new to maintaining and am still getting the hang of it. However, the hardest part for me is not seeing the scale go down. besides that, I have been so very lucky in that I have increased my calories alot and lost three more pounds in the process. I have a goal range of 117-122 and when I hit 122, I decrease calories a little until it is closer to 117. But, there have been a few times when the scale said 116 and I was so tempted to keep "dieting" to see it go lower. But, I managed to regain control and actually increased calories or had an extra free day to see it go back UP. I never thought I would ever need to see the scale go up...lol Other than the constant balancing act of figuring out maintenace calories, it hasn't been difficult...just tedious.... and I can see how that could lead to complacency over time.
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