Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From YoYo... to Maintenance...

Yoyo. Today, it’s a common slangy expression used in a greeting. To me, however, it more accurately describes my weight fluctuations for the last 50-something years, that sort of look like recent global market performance charts. I have lost large amounts of weight three times: once in my 20s, once in my 30s and finally, dropped 90+ pounds at age 48. I have remained within ten pounds of my goal weight (either over or under) for eleven years. The pounds I lost in my 20s (80 pounds) and 30s (84 pounds), were quickly regained. I subsequently added more fat to my growing body.

Until quite recently, there have been few resources available to help those of us to maintain often vast amounts of weight that many of us have managed to lose. While losing weight is tough enough—the prospect of maintaining a large loss is apparently daunting. Some “experts” (who are these experts, anyway?) say that less than 95% of the men and women who lose a large amount of weight can expect to keep it off. All THAT stat does is raise my hackles, acting as a super-motivater for me to try!!! Come on!

I quit reading studies by “experts” for a while, because their research was essentially telling me that I (and thousands of people like me) couldn’t beat the odds. That gets my blood boiling. There’s nothing I respond to more (in a positive way) than someone who tries to tell me that I can’t do something. (I must have been a hell of a challenge for my parents.) Put ON the gloves!

Officially, I reached my goal weight of 150 pounds on Halloween, 1997. I am 5’7” and currently weigh 161 pounds. I’m fitting (tightly) into size 10-12 pants and size 8-10 dress. By the time a book about my story (Last Journey Down) comes out next month, I “should” (excuse me—will be!) back down to my goal weight of 11 years ago. Yes, I’ve had to count calories and keep a food diary a large percentage of the time, since “eating in moderation” does not compute in my food mainframe in any way. Planning meals in advance, just as I did successfully in order to GET the weight off, still works best— ugh! But, it’s worked for 11 years, and I will not abandon success. I weigh myself about once a week—not daily. That would drive me nuts, since the scale is so volatile from day to day. I exercise each and every day—I’m a personal trainer, so I actually like working out—in many ways, and often outdoors, rain, shine, cold, snow.

Over the years, there have been blocks of time in which I’ve hired people—other trainers, who have kept me accountable when I was having trouble. And I’ve run into a lot of problems with food along the way. My ego can handle this—it can’t handle gaining all that lost weight back. I plan to stay at goal weight for the rest of my life, even though it’s still so hard to do this, from one day to the next.

There’s research that attempts to explain why maintenance is so difficult. A couple of years ago, Yale University did a study which supplied evidence that 80 – 85% of those who lost a substantial amount of weight would regain those lost pounds, and often more after a period of two to five years. The researchers theorized that our body metabolism changes after a big loss and afterwards, we can’t eat as much as we used to. (That’s a big “duh” for me.) But, I’m talking just eating a “little” extra and getting a gain. I guess that’s why we’ve been encouraged to exercise so much to maintain—both aerobically and anaerobically. Sigh. Controlled eating. Exercise. Controlled eating. Exercise. Repeat.

“Half of getting what you want is knowing what you have to give up to get it.” Bill Phillips

Monday, October 13, 2008

Doing Time on the Maintenance Track

Is there a blog out there on the subject of long-term maintenance for people who have lost a substantial amount of weight? Yes, there are a few! On another note, one study I read reported that the act of being accountable to a third party was key to maintaining weight loss. That sounds about right to me.

When I lost almost 100 pounds 11 years ago, I maintained the loss for a while by setting and resetting goals that I’d tick off one by one. Sometimes it was difficult coming up with goals that had a significant punch—one that I’d stick to. One of the things I did after I’d maintained for about three years, was join the non-profit organization, The National Weight Control Registry ( Being accountable to an annual (long) form I was asked to fill out was good, but an annual accounting to keep lost weight off is not enough for me. I need to have a constant source of goals: my off-exercise time exercise—to come up with a target that’s sexy and attainable. And believe me, it’s tough to conceive of these for ten years and counting.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve had joint problems, back and ankle issues and various muscle tears. I don’t even want to talk about hitting menopause! That’s ostensibly when I began having a real problem with maintenance. Exercise and my daily diet up until “the change” were no longer effective. No matter what happens, however, I will NEVER give up my quest to keep the lost weight off! It has been a wonderful challenge in the last decade and I have been at my happiest and most productive as well. I will simply not give up hope in my quest to remain lean and healthy for anything! Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How Long It Takes (to get ready for the day arrrrgghhh!)

Good morning. Even though it's Saturday, there's lots to do, so I need to get up pretty early. I have to feed the cat and dog just about everyday (unless I'm sick or on vacation, in which case my husband, Bill, steps in--he's gone until tomorrow night). Then I'll feed myself. On weekends, I catch up on house chores--the boring things such as cleaning dirty clothes and vacuuming endless golden retriever hairs off of every surface. I could knit a sweater with this hair and maybe I will. Maybe I can locate my spinning wheel somewhere around here.

I have an eleven o'clock aerobics class on an awesome exercise system called "Living Motion." Then I'll take our dog, Samantha for a run... and throw things. Her favorite toy is the kong, preferably thrown into a body of water. Finally, I'll go back home and make lunch. Maybe more blogging and housework and if I'm lucky, some reading. I'm currently reading Dean Karnazes' 50 50. (50 marathons in 50 days in... you guessed it... 50 states - ouch!

I have a compulsion to read books like this to stay motivated. Since I lost most of my fat 11 years ago, I've developed some habits that are, for the most part, built-in. One of them is to stay close to videos, literature, seminars and any other informational and inspirational media to keep me excited enough to stave off my addiction to late-night carb bingeing. Last night, for instance, I did something I haven't done for a long time. My husband is away, and although I'd like to blame that scenario, it's just wrong for me to do that. After a fairly good supper of 6-8 ounces of chicken, some broccolini (it's just delicious!) and salad, I had a fudgesicle that was very satisfying. But some evil force that I still have trouble identifying crept into the depths of an unwary space inside of me that was temporarily unarmed, and off to the kitchen I went to spread two whole wheat slices of bread with peanut butter. Now, that's not the worst thing I've ever done. Last night, the damage happened to have stopped there. But I'll be on guard again tonight, when I'll have to fortify myself all over again. Got to get ready for the class - see? It does take me a while. Later all!

Friday, October 10, 2008

October 10, 2008

You might be wondering if it's possible to take a 60-year old's antics climbing in the Sierras seriously, but consider the facts. In 1995, I was facing a severe case of Graves Disease as a woman who had been morbidly obese pretty much all her life. My endocrinologist threw me a lifeline and the rest was up to me. I'm about to receive brand new copies of a book that I've spent the last seven years writing. It is about how I lost almost 100 pounds (and eventually 100 1/2 pounds) and how I've kept it off for eleven years... and counting.

As I sit here typing tonight, after feeding the cat and dog their daily requirements (and those requirements look pretty good, actually), I'm wondering how I've managed to keep most of my lost weight off. It's been tough at times, but I've set myself up for success. Here are some of ways I've done this. It would be highly embarrassing to show up at the gym to train a client at a weight of 230 pounds. I received instruction from my dear friend, Dirk, on how to climb several years ago. If I showed up at a pre-ordained date to climb in, say, Yosemite at 235 pounds... well, I just wouldn't have shown up. I'd have traipsed out to our garden to eat worms. At any rate, the reason I'm starting this blog is to let you all know that I've been through the ringer regarding the fact that I've been a fat girl all my life... well, almost all my life. And I've managed to somehow turn it around. Throughout the year of 1997, I lost almost 90 pounds. Since then, I've either kept most of it off, or lost even more. I have been reading some incredibly inspiring blogs that exist in cyberspace, but the stories are as real as if the writers were talking to me in this room. I really get it. Keep on writing about yourselves, because it helps me (and others, I'm certain!). I have a book coming out in a few weeks that chronicles my "last journey down" this time. My various diet and exercise programs are detailed, but moreover, my journey that shows how I have kept the lost weight off take up more than half the book. I hope you enjoy the story. But most of all, I hope the tale can inspire those who have been searching for a solution to losing and preventing any weight gains ever again.

All My Best from a Food Junkie,