03 January 2014

Maintaining... what's in a word?

Warning - a rather long fat lass blether lies ahead, as this one's been mulled over a lot and been a work in progress for some considerable time. You may need to make yourself a coffee (or a stiff drink) before you carry on.

To 'maintain' something is often defined as:
to keep in an existing state
to preserve from failure or decline

Ooooh, that's actually quite a scary word when you think about it. Why's that? I'd say it's a pretty daunting prospect in many ways, because it implies 'forever'.

Well, in my case, although right from the outset, I stated that my weight loss journey was just that, a journey, and that it was not, nor ever could be, about a 'diet' as such, but a lifestyle change, I guess I kind of slid around taking on board the change part being 'for life'. Er, in my own mind anyhow.

Yeah, you've got it. That small (but vitally important) nugget that I sidelined and put to the back of my mind was the part about 'maintaining'. You see, at the time, the 'losing' was the most important aspect. And that's not really too surprising, looking back. I suppose that was the case because ever getting to 'maintenance' seemed so far off in the future, and implied that I'd be successful in the first place...

You see, despite my desire to lose my much-hated fat suit, when I set out I was hopeful but not hugely confident. Let's just say that my track record with weight loss hadn't been particularly stellar through life!. No, let's tell it like it was - it was crap. So, in the early days of shedding the pounds I didn't, perhaps couldn't, truly grasp the idea of maintenance. Let me try to explain.

Looking back to when I started, and then while I was in the midst of losing my weight, I had a carefully considered plan in mind. There was a 'sort of' target to head towards which, essentially, was to get shot of that damned blubber (the plan for which was examined, then tweaked and revised more times than I can really remember). Along the way I put in the hard work to achieve my goals, and regularly reviewed how I was doing and looked at where I should head for next.

I set, aimed for and hit a few milestones (some small and other more significant ones) along the way, and got regular feedback about how well (or otherwise!) I was doing, to track my progress, in part by by measuring myself and using the scale.

Nice positive feedback, and all good stuff it was too as the plan worked. I dropped from being a very obese and decidedly unhappy fat lass to the woman people see today. Yes, it took some time to accomplish (I started the process way back in 2007), but then so did getting fat in the first place, so I was OK with taking my time.

Move to the present. These days the world at large accepts the fat lass they see now as the fat lass that's always been. What I mean by this is that, even though it isn't the case, many people I come into contact with have in general forgotten (or maybe never even knew) that I used to be obese, or indeed any different to the way I appear now.

One consequence is that this means that those occasional rather flattering if mildly embarrassing congratulatory comments on how different I look (oooh, more positive feedback) have long since come and gone... sigh.

Having lost all the weight I wish to (well, near enough), my game plan now is quite different. It's changed, of course, because rather than striving to 'lose' weight, the new goal is to remain roughly where I am.

By the way, this is currently hovering around 52.5kg, with a 'must do something' red line set at 55kg (where it has crept up to for a short time in the past). I'm happy to allow myself a safe weight range or 'band' to sit within, which I've set at somewhere between 53 and 54kg. The long-term plan, then, is to keep myself in this "existing state". Or, said another way, to "preserve" myself from "failure" and that nasty old "decline" back to obesity.

Sounds simple, huh? Well, I'll be the first to admit that this low-carb business surely does help me, but it's still not entirely plain sailing.You see, it's that 'long-term', or should I say the 'permanent', nature of this lifestyle change which has the potential to raise the odd obstacle for me. That's what I need to get my head around.

Why? Well, remember that bit about getting regular (and positive) feedback in the past? I still do measure myself now and again, and I still weigh (almost daily, although I record only once a week). So I guess there is still an element of that feedback.. up to a point. Trouble is, when you see the same, or fairly similar, numbers on the scale week in, week out, it's still good (of course!) but things can, and do, tend to be a wee bit less exciting.

You see, in 'maintenance' mode we don't get to see that magical 'progress' of weight loss. We are no longer watching the needle on the scale drift decidedly downwards, demonstrating that our dedication and hard slog isn't in vain. Nope, that needle merely stays in roughly the same position. Nor can we track the contents of our wardrobe gradually changing to a smaller and smaller size, and congratulate ourselves on our 'good work' in that respect. As I mentioned, we certainly find that we no longer hear those lovely 'wow, don't you look different/younger/great' comments.

None of this is a huge problem as such, but I'm finding that it does contribute to making things (e.g. goal setting and tracking progress) a little more tricky.

Slightly more of an issue is that ANY form of actual, honest to goodness 'positive' feedback, not only the type mentioned above, is rather thinner on the ground these days. Indeed 'negative' feedback is a much more commonplace thing to encounter.

Feeling one's usual clothes become a tad tighter round the waist or, as has happened now and again, noticing that little increase in weight from the scales needle if food intake increases or the levels of activity decline (for whatever reason) isn't truly my cup of tea. It may be an 'oh b***s! moment and a wake-up call to engender doing 'something' to counteract the problem, but it's not exactly cheering, and for me it's not hugely motivational!

It may sound somewhat dull and unispiring, but 'progress' now seems rather more closely aligned to standing still. Hmmm, running to stay in place, eh? Oooh, there's fun!

This whole idea has the fat lass a little bit scared. I don't want to over-dramatise things, but to me it screams out 'dangerous waters' because I feel that it could be all too easy to become bored or complacent. If that happened it's entirely possible that I might take my eye off the maintenance ball. I could lose motivation, and find that, little by little, I drift gradually away from the straight and narrow.

This fear hasn't materialised yet, thank heavens, but I have to admit that now and again (especially when I get particularly stressed or tired... and there seems to have been a fair dose of both in the last year) I've begun to feel the first twinges of the 'yah boo sucks, don't want to' mentality surfacing when it comes to good food compliance and exercise.

So, I feel that I must think ahead and do something here - before indolence and complacency takes a firm hold over the rest of the winter and beyond. What I definitely do not want is for this lazy(?) and lacklustre lass to turn back into the fat lass again.

To keep myself moving along that straight and narrow pathway, I think I need to find myself some form of 'positive' feedback. I want to identify a different, but measurable marker (or maybe markers) of success for myself, however small it may be. Then I need to start tracking and recording that marker to keep my motivation motor running.

And then... well, all I have to do is keep on keeping on... for life.

It's probably an appropriate time to haul that dusty old thinking cap out of mothballs once again. Perhaps I'll have a chat with Baldrick, and see if we can come up with one of his cunning (and long-term) plans. Any suggestions you might have would, of course, be very gratefully welcomed. Onwards ever...


Gwen said...

I TOTALLY get it! And losing weight for me on South Beach or Atkins (low carb) was always easy. It was the lifelong prospect of maintenance that I always sucked at. Because I considered it lifetime denials in my future. I was looking at it all wrong. Also, the sameness of maintenance; the lack of the highs of losing and all that goes with it...I get that too. I think it's just an attitude thing. Since I went primal, and did the research, I have become SO SO passionate about it, that THAT is what fuels me now, now that all the excess weight is gone. I want to be like Johnny Appleseed and spread the word, to a world that (unfortunately) doesn't want to hear it. But rather than wallow in the highs of loss being gone/behind me, I am choosing to focus on:

1. refining my efforts with myself. Tweaking a few areas that could use some improvement.
2. focusing on keeping abreast of all research in the field of grain-free living.
3. trying to gently get the word out to the world I live in.

We can still find passion and excitement in this life...we just have to analyze WHERE that passion comes from, and adjust our thinking slightly if necessary. :)

Chrissie said...

I'm no help with the clever suggestions or sunning plans as maintenance has eluded me thus far... but I look forward to picking up tips when you devise your plan!
Good luck with finding an enjoyable way to maintain...

Deniz said...

Great aims Gwen - I definitely need to re-focus my thoughts, and haul myself out of the rut that I'm ambling towards.

Silly, but I think I always hesitate to let myself be really passionate about the low-carb life, or at least have done this so far, purely because I enjoy the way I can eat so much. Sounds daft, eh?

I know (thinking logically) that it seems to be doing me, and especially my lovely hubby, a lot of good and that we are both a LOT healthier for it. But it still strikes me (old emotional thinking) as way too good a deal to really be honest-to-God true. I can eat fat? And it's doing me good? Guess I'm still running scared that one day I'll wake up as the old obese fat lass again! Yep, this is re-frame and re-focus time again.

Thanks also Chrissie. If I can figure out a plan that works (for me, anyhow) I'll be sure to post about it.

Have a great 2014, both.

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