So, I have a confession to make. I am freaked out by the idea of weight loss maintenance. In theory it should be easy – just keep doing what I have been doing, but maybe eat a little more. Easy right? In actuality, it makes me quake in my boots.
I’m quite happy with where I am. I like the way I look, and I feel great. My instinct is to slow down a bit and settle in, but the problem is, I don’t know how. My friend Cee called me out on it the other day when I told her I had to tackle my maintenance plan. Truth is, I didn’t even think about it when I wrote it, but she pointed out that “tackle” might be a bit strong. I think it is just a sign of how I feel about it. I’m a planner, so for every goal, there must be a plan.
While I was out walking the dog last night I started thinking about why this bothers me so much. I mean really, there doesn’t need to be a new plan – I can just keep tracking, eating well, and exercising. I just need to weigh every day and make adjustments accordingly, right? So, why does it make my chest feel tight when I think about it?
I think there are two things going on here. The first is simply the fear of failure. I didn’t have this while losing weight because if I wasn’t able to do it, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t under doctor’s orders or anything like that. I simply made a choice to give it a try. If it hadn’t worked the only people who would have known would have been my sister, my boyfriend, Cee and you, blog reader. But us? We have an understanding you and I, I’m not afraid of failing in front of you. Now that I have lost 30 pounds, however, people can see it on me. It is going to be a lot more obvious if I gain the weight back – and let’s face it, we all know people who have been very successful in the losing category, but didn’t make it in the maintenance department. The dieter who loses weight, then gains it all back (and then some) is so common it is almost a cliché – and for good reason, it’s hard work. People with far more willpower, and far more resources, than I have lost this battle.
The other is: time. I want to keep this weight off forever and ever, amen. Well, I am turning 40 this year, so if I live until I am 80, that means setting a goal for another 40 years. That is the length of my current lifespan… I can’t even wrap my brain around trying to set a 40 year goal! The numbers are just too large and life is just too variable.
While thinking about that span of time, a solution came to me. Instead of trying to set goals “for the rest of my life,” I am just going to set a year-long goal. I started losing on January 15 of this year – so, my goal is simply: Keep the 30 pounds off through Jan. 15, 2014. Once I thought of that, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I immediately felt better. On May 15th, (just to keep things nice and tidy,) I am going to change the settings on My Fitness Pal. Then I am simply going to focus on my little seven month goal. Maintaining for seven months seems so much easier than maintaining for the rest of my life. (bum bum BUM…..)
It’s possible, of course, that I will lose more – who knows? I will probably bounce around a bit. I am not going to try to keep my weight on an exact number. I’m still figuring things out and still learning to run, which will, undoubtably, cause some changes. All I am going to do is work hard at keeping what I have lost off until my anniversary in January. Once I do that, I can set a goal for the next year – whatever it may be. It feels completely doable – and yet, there are still enough challenges in there (holidays, anyone?), to keep things interesting.
Here’s the other benefit that I thought of as I was writing this – keeping focus is hard. Keeping focus for forty years, or even five years is hard. Keeping focus for seven months is not quite so bad. I think by shortening my goal, I’m making it easier to keep it in mind. That should help make it a little easier too.
So, that’s the plan. I got it off, now I’m going to keep it off, by gum!
Photo credit: lululemon athletica