Continuing our “Ask Us (Almost) Anything” series, this month we’re answering this question from Diane: “How did you know when to transition to maintenance from loss mode? Was it a number or a size or something else? Did you struggle to not want to ‘lose a little more’?”
I declared goal on a cloudy March day in 2007. I was at my doctor’s office for a routine checkup. I weighed 138 pounds. I said to my doctor, “So, do you suppose I’m done?” She said, “I think you can stop now.” No fanfare, no confetti, no fireworks, no angels flying around the room singing “Hallelujah.” Just me, my doctor and my medical file in which my doctor wrote, “Lost 158 pounds in two years, two months and 12 days.”
I walked out of the her office no longer a person losing weight, but a person maintaining weight. I got in my car, sat there for a moment, and thought, ‘Now what?’
My original goal weight in January 2005 was 150 pounds only because my doctor and I picked a number that sounded reasonable. When you’re sitting at nearly 300 pounds, your goal weight is the least of your concerns.
So I got to 150. I looked at my body and knew immediately I wasn’t “there” yet. So I changed my goal to a waist size – 32 inches. I got there in January 2007 and still didn’t feel done yet. I knew there was a more toned body in me somewhere.
When I got to 140 pounds, I felt like the body I was hoping for was emerging. My lower stomach and hips were getting stronger, carrying less fat, and they were getting flat, despite the fact that I’d had two children and was morbidly obese for several years. What I thought was loose skin turned out to be fat because much of the “flap” was gone. That amused me in so many ways. I can’t count the number of people who’ve asked me about loose skin, particularly people who haven’t lost a pound. My reply is always the same: you simply DO NOT KNOW what you will look like until you reach your goal. Deal with skin then if you want to, but remember, loose skin won’t kill you. Obesity could.
Anyway…goal. 138 pounds. I was still a member of Weight Watchers online and at goal, you are allowed a few more daily points. Believe me, I ate them(!) and yet, I continued to lose weight. By the time I taped the “Oprah” show in October 2007, I was 132 pounds…and obsessed with losing more. More, more, MORE!
In preparing to write this AIM post, I sifted through my blog entries from December 2007 and found this:
“Overall, I’m feeling good and slowly accepting my body at goal. I still can’t say the words ‘I am thin’ out loud because all my life I’ve either been told by others or I told myself that I had a few pounds (at least) to lose. It will take some time for me to really embrace the whole ‘thin’ thing.
I realized the other day that while I’m only 17 pounds lighter than last Christmas, I’m two to three clothing sizes smaller. I’m a little excited that my size 6 Levis are bagging and I might, just might, fit into a size 4. That is so surreal. I remember thinking three years ago how happy I’d be to get back into a size 12. Then when I got to a 12, I started thinking, ‘What if I go just a little smaller?’ And then at size 8, I thought, ‘One more size. Let’s see if I can do one more size.’ I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be a size 6, let alone a 4 in anything.”
By summer 2008, I was vacillating between 125-128 pounds and I remember thinking that maybe I’d try to reach 120, despite the fact that I was cold all the time and the people closest to me – the ones I trusted the most – told me I was getting too thin. I won’t say I had an eating disorder. It was that I couldn’t let go of that weight-loss mentality. I hadn’t embraced maintenance, even though I said I did. That didn’t happen until 2010, when I had knee surgery and my marriage fell apart and my focus was no longer entirely on my weight.
Am I the world’s greatest maintainer? Not by a long shot. In fact, I’m back in weight-loss mode. Only this time, it’s not with the same fervent veracity with which I lost weight the last time, the “Get it off NOW” approach.
I’m convinced that maintaining any weight loss takes years to figure out, and often, many of us gain some or all of our lost weight back in the process of trying to figure out what maintenance path is best for us. I’ll say one thing, though, losing that freaking obsession with gaining weight has been a godsend, despite the pain and heartache I went through to get there. I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, but there’s a quieter, gentler person looking back this time. I know I have what it takes to lose and and to maintain, even if I choose to maintain where I am right now, this second.
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!