AIM: Maintaining Support…Or Not?

I was standing over the stove yesterday whisking a cheese sauce for a new recipe I was trying (Baked Spaghetti Squashand Cheese…totally worth the time to make!) when it occurred to me that I used to sit down to whisk a cheese sauce when I weighed 300 pounds. My lower back killed me any time I stood longer than a few minutes.  

I’ve written more than a few times about how there’s no way I’d be where I am today – 150 pounds lighter than I was 8 years ago – without the support of some pretty amazing people, both in my “real” life and online. As I was losing weight, I was in touch daily on the Weight Watchers 100+ discussion boards, sometimes posting for hours in order to work out a difficult food or body issue. My friends and family were always there with words of encouragement and to help celebrate a milestone.
In maintenance, the support I need is more subtle. In fact, I often don’t recognize support as “support” until the moment has passed. At this end of the scale, support is a reminder, an experience, an appreciation. It’s remembering that at 300 pounds, my back ached while whisking cheese sauce or, in the case of this photo, rolling out lefse. I remember exactly how I was feeling and thinking at that moment my aunt told me to smile. I wanted to cry my back hurt so much, but I refused to sit down because I refused to let others see that my weight was causing me such pain. After all, I wasn’t really THAT overweight! (Oh the lies I told myself…)
Support is a friend sharing her own realization that I could appreciate and make my own. I had lunch last weekend with my friend, Chris, whom I had met on the 100+ boards eight years ago when I was just starting my journey and she had already lost more than 100 pounds. During lunch, she lamented a bit about how she’s gained some of her weight back, then almost in the same breath, she corrected herself and focused on the positive.
“It’s been 10 years since I weighed over 300 pounds,” she said. “I’ve been maintaining a weight far below my highest weight. That’s a huge accomplishment!”
Yes, it is. And her “Eureka!” moment was all the support I needed to remind me how far I’ve come as well. While I, too, would like my scale number to be a little lower, I have maintained a large weight loss for more than six years. While I can’t rely on that reminder alone to keep the weight off (yes…it still takes daily concentration and dedication to maintain), it’s sometimes a good idea to step back and look at the big picture (pun intended). 
Each of us can be our own best support system. Even if you’re still in the process of losing weight or if you’re stuck on a plateau or feeling blah in maintenance, support yourself by reminding yourself how far you’ve come. Maybe do it the next time you’re at the gym or out for a walk or run, or even when you’re standing at and not sitting by the stove whisking a cheese sauce.
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!

9 thoughts on “AIM: Maintaining Support…Or Not?

  1. “Each of us can be our own best support system.”

    I'm so glad you highlighted this, Lynn! (I meant to but forgot.:)) Support starts from within, and we can do a lot on our own with just a few subtle shifts in thinking.

  2. This is a great reminder so we don't get frustrated when a few pounds come back on. It doesn't mean it is time to give up but to get back on track and remember all the hard work it took to get there. It can be easy to get frustrated and want to give up but positive self talk can go a long way too.

  3. Such a good reminder that even with a bit of regain, we all are still keeping off a tremendous amount of weight…and that's something I've never been able to do, so this kind of blog support HAS to account for much of it!

  4. I always think about you when I say people need to have 'in person' support, because I know that you lost all your weight with an online support group. Reading this, I can see that it was a very active, more intense form of online support.

    Your description of how your back would burn was such a good reminder to me. Because now, with my back damaged, when it hurts, it makes me feel like I am back at that fat place. But it is not the same. And I have to make myself think, 'what would my back feel like now if I had never lost the weight?'

  5. Support both in real life and via the internet was sooooo key.

    I'm a maintainer that has to follow a very “tough not moderate” food template.

    Most maintainers are not like me, so finding a group of people like me- maybe 5-10% of maintainers (within the very small group of weight maintainers) made all the difference this time around.

    Support is key. Finding your own tribe in maintenance is very, very important. I encourage all those reaching maintenance or re-finding maintenance after a regain to find the maintainers they identify with the most.

    If I tried ( and I did) to identify with the maintenance group that was not the right fit I would be miserable (I was). By identifying with the maintenance group that fit my own maintenance style, it was helpful and supportive.

    We spend much, much more time in weight maintenance rather than weight loss, so finding the right group, or tribe is key- IMO.

    Great topic. Support is one of the 12 Rules from the Refuse to Retain book. Glad you are blogging about it.

    Karen P.

  6. I had good in person support, but the online support was a huge part of it. I didn't know anyone in real life who lost 100 pounds and felt alone in that regard until the internet connected me with all those people.

  7. Thanks, Lynn. We do have to be our own first line of support. Sigh.

    Over Christmas, I was struggling with some regain, and my MIL said: “Well, just return to your routine when you get home and it'll come right off.” I snapped at her, which later I regretted. She thought she was being supportive, but she was accidentally reminding me that I'm in a different place from her. She gains a pound, it only takes a day to return downward to her natural weight. I gain a pound, I'm regaining a pound toward what my body understands as its “natural weight” and it's one of my “later” pounds. (The first few pounds come off much faster than later pounds.) Relosing a later pound will take at least the same amount of time it took me to lose it the first time — which might have been months.

    Maintenance is a struggle, but I can only expect support in the moment from myself — not my Mother in Law. Then later, maybe I can go on line and look up a maintainer who knows.

  8. Part of my commitment this week is to read all the AIM posts and comment. I am just starting my newest adventure in healthy living and have a theory of following the AIM group for tips to live as if before I get there. Support is what I need the most but tell myself I don't. Learning to be our own best support system….love that and its actually an inner belief that has been under served.

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