Category Archives: Milestones

52 weeks at goal

Last week on my nutrition final there was an item about how Picabo Street, Mark Maguire, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Will Smith were overweight or borderline obese at their peaks (in Smith’s case, when he played Mohammed Ali).  I thought that was funny since Street was my inspiration for my goal last year of 165.

I marked a low weight at the end of the summer, and have gradually gained a bit, which I was feeling kind of bummed about.  But looking back a year I can I’m still 6 pounds less than I was then.  I also revised my weight loss goal on Sparkpeople, which had been 152 by tomorrow.  I set a starting weight of 160 (which it was about a week ago) and a goal weight of 155 in March.

I guess in the long view I there are landmarks that stand out in my first year of maintenance.  Reaching goal, of course. Getting through Christmas and New Years without going off the rails. My first freak out, am I having an eating disorder?  Valentines day I did go of the rails, but got right back on.

Studying Maintenance scholarship until my eyes bled. Being invited to help lead at the Sparkpeople Maintenance Tem and getting involved with We Keep it Off.  Finally  understanding the predictors well enough to let go of my fear that I would fall out of maintenance without realizing it was happening.

Something I haven’t really put into words was when the Spark Solution came out in May.  I read it.  I had some nice things to say about it.  I was relieved by some aspects of it, but came away with a huge sense of alone-ness as a maintainer.  That was when I started this site.  “Happily Ever After.”  The fairy god mother of weight loss has granted all your wishes, and now what do you do with your life?

About that time I decided to join the NWCR according to the broadest definition, 1 year of keeping 30 pounds off.  I did, but by the time the materials arrived…

I had started school.  This happened over the summer.  Reading the maintenance literature had kindled in me the seriousness of the weight management problem.  Preventing diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.  (Another tidbit from Nutrition class: every cancer besides lung cancer is correlated with obesity.)

And then a bumper sticker I saw on my birthday:  “Remember who you wanted to be.”  This rattled around in my head in different ways over a course of weeks.  I thought about becoming a trainer, a public health researcher, a speech language pathologist, and eventually a nurse.

One of the maintenance predictors Sparkpeople does well with is defining triggering events, or the reason you decided to change your lifestyle.  It could be an unflattering picture or a recalcitrant seatbelt, but the NWCR found it was often a conversation with a medical provider or the illness of a loved one.  And yet many providers feel their counsel would fall on deaf ears or in some cases ignite rebellion.

I think that’s one reason I would like to become a primary care provider.  Not so I can tell everyone I meet they need to lose weight, but to be willing to turn conversations toward long term health.  Helping people know that excess bodyfat requires cell proliferation, which gives cancer a foot in the door.

One of my observations from last year was how weight loss was like going to college, and when we graduate we don’t say “well that was interesting, back to reality.”  We are supposed to take what we’ve learned and put it into practice.  What would I have thought then, if I could see me now.

28 weeks

I’m revisiting my success story and plan as I start a new round of Maintenance FANS.  It’s not really much new, but the emphasis on different things shifts over time.  Do things shift because of where I am, or is it seasonal?  Like when I started maintenance I was really focused on attitude and mental issues, but it was also winter then.  Then I came to a greater appreciation of fitness and body composition.  Now I’m back to focusing on diet and physiology.

Why was I overweight?
I was overweight even as a kid.  I think I just had a preference for sweets and a disinclination to move, like what we see with the childhood obesity today.  As I got older I had some idea that I should try to lose weight, but I almost never lost more than a few pounds.  I was easily drawn in by strategies that said they would be easy or fun or rely on some secret trick.  I eventually settled into a belief that I was meant to be overweight, but age and injury started nudging me into the obese range.
Was there a moment when you decided to do something about it?
There was a series of events.  First, I faced my highest weight of 212.  I hadn’t weighed myself in years, but I was helping my sister weigh her baby who was really small.  Then my husband turned 40 and I knew my birthday was around the corner.  I started losing weight and cut sugar, but then we had our 5th child.  When I found myself back at my 40th birthday weight, I decided it was again time to do something.  This was January 2012.
How did you lose the weight?
I started out tracking my food, and I started losing about a pound a week.  I originally just wanted to get out of the obese range. But as I saw how well tracking workedl, and I saw what others had achieved, I decided to strive for a healthy BMI.  They say calories are king, but you don’t win chess with kings.  I tracked water, veggies and fruits, protein, fiber, and eventually sodium as I gradually built a nutritional strategy that allowed me to feel relatively satisfied at an effective calorie range.  I had good intentions for exercise, but sparkpeople and later fitbit were key in turning my intentions into action.  As 2012 came to a close I reached my goal weight of 165.  Most importantly, I trusted the process and didn’t let apparent setbacks derail me, and I pursued the mental furnishings of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What is different about your life now?
1.  I have a lot more energy.
2.  I have confidence from keeping promises to myself and caring for myself
3.  I have a richer relationship with food, more appreciation for its nutritional depth but also greater enjoyment of the occasional treat.
4.  I have developed my physical abilities in ways that I feel I could do just about anything.
5.  I feel like I’ve really demonstrated what being positive can accomplish.
Pictures:  Forthcoming.  I have my NWCR goal in 10 days and I’ll take some pictures for that.  My pictures above:  2010 at high weight (white and green shirts)  at 165 in black, my jeans from 20w to 12, at BMI 25 in pink, and April 2013 in purple.

On the corner of Recovery and Maintenance

Today I mark a couple of milestones.  One is the 12th anniversary of my introduction to 12 step recovery.  The other is 5 months of maintaining a healthy BMI.

12 years ago I went to a party for Mother’s Day and I could not believe how much I ate, and that at the end of it I still felt unsatisfied on some level.  I had heard of AA in high school health class, but wondered how sobriety was applied to overeating.  That day we happened to watch Bounce, a movie with Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow about a guy trying to do his 8th step, and while I remain unsure about his results to this day, I was entranced by the glimpse of the Big Book they showed.  Maybe the story is about life being messy but telling the truth is how you get through it one way or the other.

From a hopeful beginning, I struggled with recovery over the next 3 1/2 years.  As such, I kind of wonder about recommending it to people, because the breaking in was so very bumpy.  By any scientific measure, I was a chronic failure at 12 steps.  But I got up one more time than I fell down.  I found a meeting that finally worked for me and peeled the addiction onion down to codependency (past overeating, sugar, sloth, depression and anxiety).  Each of these involved falling through rock bottom to land on a lower one.  Some have suggested all addiction is really about codependency, about magical thinking regarding responsibility and blame.  I don’t know, I’m suspicious of single right answers at this point in life.

I mean, I grew up Christian and feel that’s so important, but because of addiction and mental illness and a bunch of other stuff it didn’t solve everything right away.  Love is supposed to be the answer, and I have a lot of Love in my life, but it can make things complicated just as much as it is the answer to everything.

What makes a story like mine important is not that it’s a recipe for sanity and self-actualization or even being saved or getting healthy.  Those things are all important.  But the value is in knowing the answers are out there, and you keep looking, and you’ll find them.  Some of them, you stay where you are and they find you.  Sometimes you need get up and go, sometimes you need patience.  God only knows when you need which (that’s the serenity prayer.)  I mean, I still am trying to figure out how to get and keep my house clean, and how to not spend more money than I’ve got.  I figure as far as problems go, those aren’t bad ones to have.

So how about the maintenance?  5 months is pretty good.  The thing about maintenance is that you only develop it by doing it.  I’ve often compared it to mastering other skills like playing the piano or writing.  You don’t learn certain facts and consequently graduate into solid maintenance, I guess.  Maybe it has something to do with recovery.

Some people don’t like the whole idea of addiction being a disease, because they say the last thing people need is to feel like their behavior is not their fault.  And the response to this that has evolved for me over the years is that I can’t choose not to be codependent, or anxious, or depressed.  I can only make choices that contribute to freedom from those states.  I can go to a meeting.  I can read literature.  I can reach out for support.

It’s more clearly understood if you look at weight.  I can’t choose my numerical weight, but I can choose what to eat (maybe not what I want to eat, but I work the steps for that) and I choose whether I’m active or sedentary.  And over time of making those choices, the weight responds.  I know a lot of people are not in a place to prioritize making those choices.  There’s a reason I was 42 when I reached my initial goal, and there are areas I’m still working on physically.

Maybe what’s important to understand with health (be it physical or mental) is that there is no such thing as stasis.  Your weight and your mood are continually responding to whatever is happening.  So are we just letting whatever happen to us, or are there choices we can make to move things the direction we want them?  Do we know what direction we want to go and why?