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


Deborah Boyar said...

Dear Miche,

I'm so proud of you! This is an incredible blog, and you're an incredible woman. I'm so lucky you are my trainer. You have helped and motivated me so much. I honor your courage and honesty in sharing your journey. I feel less alone knowing how you have triumphed over your cravings and metabolism. Thank you!


Last Journey Down said...

Deborah! I can't believe it! I only just found your comment and am so happy you left it! Thank you so much, but feel lucky to have you as a client (and FRIEND!)
Enjoy the remainder of your trip!