August 6, 2011

Maintenance

At different points in my journey, I have tended to focus more on certain blogs - though I still read the whole gamut and try to comment and support people no matter what their personal goals are. When I first started reading blogs, I sought out only bloggers "like me" - folks with over 200 pounds to lose, and exclusively female writers. As I've continued on my journey, though, my blog reading horizons have expanded. I credit this to realizing that when I look beyond the physical, a lot of people are "like me" - even in the least likely of places, I can find something I relate to.

In the beginning, I wanted to read as much as I could by people going through the same experience as me - because even though the hundredth pound is as hard to lose as the first one, the strength required of you when you're getting started feels incredibly overwhelming compared to the strength required of persevering through the middle stretch. That's part of how I got that big to begin with - it's easier to stick with a harmful habit than commit to making the right choices and changing my lifestyle. There were always excuses for eating garbage and not being active, and the weight climbed accordingly. Suddenly, you're 23, just shy of 350 pounds, and going to the bathroom or tying your shoelaces are exhausting. So I looked to read what other people had to say about getting started, so that we could support each other.

As I started running, I looked for C25k and running blogs. I was 296 pounds the first day of C25k, and truly felt like a fit person as I jogged and walked in 60 second intervals. I wanted to read more about people who had done the program, to see what advice they had and how they were feeling as the weeks carried on. Around week 5 of the program, the game changes a little - you start running full miles without walking intervals, and for someone who had never ran a mile without stopping in her life, that made me feel like a real athlete. I started looking for people who wrote about the races they had done, because I understood what they wrote about. I knew how it felt to train, and I knew the incredible feeling of the "runner's high" that they described after hitting their longest distances, logging their fastest paces, and finishing race after race. I looked to read what other runners had to say about the sport, so that we could support each other.

Recently, my focus has been on maintenance blogs. It's time to start actively thinking about my plan for maintenance - it hit me a few weeks ago that I'm in the final stretch of the losing phase - I have 37-57 pounds to lose still, which is quite a bit of ways to go, but at the same time, I've lost about 3-5 times those figures already. This realization, I think, also contributed to my slowed/stalled weight loss.

It might be a silly analogy, but the most perfect image I can think of is that I feel like the part in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" when Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe drink the Fizzy Lifting Drinks and start floating - they tumble and float carelessly, enjoying the ride and feeling fantastic - until they realize they're about to be chopped to bits by a gigantic oscillating fan, and they start grabbing fruitlessly at the walls of the tunnel they've been floating in. Losing weight has felt incredible and I've enjoyed so many non-scale victories, but now the end is near and I feel like clinging for dear life to avoid reaching it. Unfortunately, burping won't save me like it did for those two - I have to keep moving forward.

It's really conflicting: I want to lose weight, but I'm scared of actually losing down to the beginning of my life in maintenance. I cried myself to sleep the other night because I lost 150 pounds in one year when I thought it would take three. I thought I would have more time to get ready for "the end." I got upset, mad at myself even, for doing "so well." It doesn't always feel like I'm doing a good job - the uncertainty of the future overwhelms me.

For my whole life, I've wanted to lose weight. I'm actually doing it now, and before I know it, that won't be one of my life goals anymore. It's a major part of my identity that I'm frankly a little scared of losing. I've made great strides in the past year, but there were also 23 years where I was a big girl who wanted more in life. I'm really afraid of regaining the weight, not because I want to be big again, but because as long as I have weight to lose, I'm still Mary. I know it seems ridiculous and illogical to fear the end - because it isn't actually an end. I'll have new goals. Weight maintenance is something I'll have to work on for the rest of my life. This is my sobriety - no matter how much weight I lose, I'll always be a formerly super obese person in recovery.

So even though I love reading about the experiences of all different points on their various journeys, I've been focusing very closely on maintenance blogs, on people who have lost the weight, who are keeping it off, who show that it *can* be done, and with grace and balance. And soon enough, we will support each other.

What about you? Do you have any fears, secret or not, about weight loss and/or weight maintenance? I know I can't be alone in feeling this way - I haven't been with anything else so far on this journey!

14 comments:

Maia said...

My fear is that might be addicted to weight loss. I'm afraid that once I've reached my goal, it won't be enough and that I'll still want to lose more. Like I'll become one of those girls who (even though I'm at a completely normal and healthy weight) will say "I still really want to lose 5 pounds." I usually REALLY don't like those girls...

Bonnie said...

I think my fear is gaining it back after working so hard to lose it, and I've only lost 46lbs so far, or becoming one of those women that look at overweight women and think "gross" when I have been looked at, and called that for years.....

Hyla said...

I have stalled, I say it is because of the heat, but is it? I dont feel as dedicated as I did when I first started. Ive lost my omph.

I become judgmental I look at overweight women and think. they could do this, if they applied themselves, if they tried.

Im judging myself bc I cant fit into certain things at the store even though they are "supposed" to be "my size"

I need to stop focusing on the rewards and start focusing on the journey again, because I've still got another 60 or so to go.

timothy said...

i lost 80 pounds and then freaked and stopped losing with 50 to go. stayed in that funk for 5 years. totally out of terror. what if I am the reason i'm alone and NOT the fat, what if I am the one who caused all my problems and NOT the fat. it's a prison but in some sick way it keeps you safe. been fighting my way through that mess for a bit but i'm finally doing it!

SlimKatie said...

I NEVER thought that I would have a "fear of losing weight issue" when I was fat, or even when I was losing. But I remember the moment that I saw 80 pounds lost on the scale, I completely freaked out. I started crying, and said to my husband that I need to stop, that this is too "real" now, and that I won't know what to do when I get to goal. I was truly scared! But I kept going, obviously, and I'm super glad that I did! :)

Maintenance is very different from losing weight, mainly because you feel like you've REACHED "the end" of the journey. I think it's great that you're thinking about it now, and how to handle it when you get there. I'm sure you'll be very successful!

The Writer said...

Do I have any fears about weight loss or weight maintenance?
Well, let me put it this way. In July of 2008 I weighed 344lbs. and promised myself that I would lose all the weight I wanted to lose. Sixteen months later on Thanksgiving of 2009 I weighed 184lbs. One week later I had gained back 24lbs. during an eating frenzy that would shame a Sumo wrestler. To make a long story short, this July I weighed in at 358. I had gained back all of the weight I lost plus 14lbs.
Why?
Short answer--I'm insane.
Long answer--I had never really come to terms with what it was that made me gain the weight in the first place and so I ran back to a place (Being overweight) that was comfortable, in a sick sense.
And now?
Now I think my head is on straight and I'm losing weight because I want to be healthier. I'm no longer running away from the fat or my problems with certain foods, (Sweets!)instead, I'm walking toward something and this time I'm going to the end of Fat Road and build myself a nice, little house in that cul de sac of healthy living.
Mary,
You've lost over a hundred and fifty pounds in a year and that just blows me away. That is an incredible accomplishment. Take time to enjoy it and don't feel rushed to lose anymore. You will get where you're going and you'll learn to live with the "New" you.
Good luck!

100 weeks

Sarah With Love said...

I was like you i got scared of getting to goal, i lost 4st in 6 months and was a lb away from breaking the barrier into 14st bracket and i spent 6 months after that between 15st on dot and 15st 5lbs because i was scared to break that barrier and what it would mean for me. It would make me the smallest i had been since a child, but more importantly it meant that it wasnt like other times i had dieted, it was actually going to happen, i was going to get there. In the end i let my fears get the better of me and gained back a stone and half and now i have that on top of the 4st i had left to lose. I really wish i had been honest with myself and others about my fears, i think it would of helped me to not take such a step back. So well done for admitting it, now id say work out what you can do for yourself to make it easier. For example would you feel better if you didnt weigh yourself for a bit and just stayed on track and kept exercising. I think sometimes we focus too much on the numbers and that seeing it on scales is whats worse. Or maybe is it something you need to talk through? Only you can answer what is going to help, but just make sure it doesnt get the better of you.

Good luck.
Sarah

marisol said...

My fear is that I won't lose weight but isn't that everyone's fear? I am afraid that I will feel the same once I reach my goal. That I will still be that insecure girl who feels like she isn't good enough.

It's funny you mention reading habits of blogs. When I first started reading blogs, it was all about beauty and fashion. I wanted to fix the outside and I wasn't too concerned with the inside. When I got serious with my weight loss, I started reading more weight loss blogs and stopped reading as many beauty ones. After participating in the Do Life 5k, I started reading more weight loss and healthy living blogs. Now I am working on fixing the inside because that is what matters. :)

Kara said...

I have the same concern as Maia up top. I'm actually enjoying my weight loss journey (365daysand100pounds.blogspot.com) and am worried that when I get to my goal weight, it still won't be enough- or that I will still play the game with the scale every Sunday when I weigh in. I've done well so far, but I don't want to balloon up again, or end up unhealthy...

Anonymous said...

I have not even allowed myself to think about maintenance yet. I am so far away from there, it's just a speck on the horizon. My main fear right now is that I won't get there.

Karla said...

To doesn't stop. I still struggle, make mistakes, gain and lose. I realize if I go back to eating the way I did I will gain it all back and then some. It is a freaky time, in the beginning ..... Even now I have been 8 months on maintenance and I am grateful that I changed my life but mindful that it can all go back to the old way so quick. I feel like it is like sobriety, I have to take care of my maintenance .... And myself and I used to think that was so selfish, I would think less of people because the were selfish, but not so much any more ... i know there is a difference between being selfish and taking care of myself

Took me a long time to figure it out

Waisting Time said...

I've never been afraid to reach maintenance... just afraid I'd fall out of it once there. But right now I feel like I have defined my life with this narrow focus of my eating issues or dieting for quite a while and what I don't know is how to get away from that. How to just live life and not focus on this anymore. For me, I talk about it in my blog as my desire to fine a "normal" relationship with food. So maybe I am also scared that I'll never have that.

Geosomin said...

I tend to rotate between being OK with me now as I try and maintain and panicking when I go off plan and gain a few pounds...realising that I have to be attentinve to stay where I am now is humbling. For me it would be very simple to slip back to how I used to live. Sometimes knowing this is my life now can be daunting...but there is so much I can do now that I could not before. I don't want to go back. I don't need to be perfect - just be me. Keep tabs on myself.

For me the strangest thing was realising that losing weight feels great, but other problems I had in life were still there. The most unusual thing for me was when people treated me differently now that I am "normal" shaped...at first this angered me. Now I try and let it support my confidence.

I love that you have your eyes open and are willing to look at all this. You will do this...if you belkieve you can :)

Hungry Girl Fan said...

I'm just getting caught up on your blog after a busy couple of weeks. It is good that you are preparing yourself for maintenance in advance. I am sooo close to my goal weight it is ridiculous, but I, like you, am a little afraid of actually reaching a point where I will be in maintenance. I have been there twice before, and, after having two kids, am hoping this will be the final time I will have to lose the weight. The only problem is, I have to get there first, and that seems to be the challenge! At only 10 pounds to go, I have been at a standstill for three months now. When you think about it, though, that means I have been in a kind of maintenance mode for three months - just 10 pounds higher than I want to be. Hopefully that means I can be successful with maintenance once I finally reach my goal weight!

Thanks for all your words of wisdom. I always find inspiration in your blog!