Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Maintenance is Personal

As a bandster, I think everyone starts out with this hope and excitement to get going on this journey and motivation is 110%. Many people lose initially (some the entire time - lucky!) without a lot of effort. Then there are others that have to work hard to get every stinking pound off. Regardless of whether it is "easy" or "hard", changes have to be made. You can't (and shouldn't) eat the amount you used to, are encouraged to change your eating habits, and encouraged to exercise.

Along my journey, there were ups and downs. It's life after all, right? But man, those highs are awesome! Losing weight, fitting in clothes, looking better, and oh, the compliments. It's a real head rush. Then I got to goal weight. It was scary as I struggled with the "shoulda's", "can's", "what if's". Should I lose more weight? Is this it? Can I keep this off? What should I do now? What if I go back?

Over time, the compliments lessened. And, for me, the compliments were not so much an ego boost as when I thought about it I realized in hindsight that for me it was more pressure or accountability to those around me that I would NOT fail again. With less of the comments, this crutch wasn't there. I was just Fluffy as I am now. In fact, when I run into people that haven't seen me and I get a reaction now, it takes me by surprise because I have also gotten to where this is "just me".

It was a big adjustment to not freak out. And, rest assured, there were freak outs along the way, but I had to figure maintenance out. Having lived so focused on the scale, my weight, losing, etc. to now find myself "at goal" and that I had made it ---pretty much scared the crap out of me. What was the next step in my journey?

This is an over simplification of maintenance for me, but when I sat down to write this, it's what stuck out for me in the past 3 years of maintaining. So, I'm assuming that means it's the "important stuff". ; )

I looked at a lot of blogs of people that either had or never had weight problems and were now healthy (ate well, strong, physical, etc.). I read and read and looked for things that struck a cord with me. This led me to wanting to be "healthier". Sure, I had the number on the scale and I had smaller clothes, but was I really healthy? (see Skinny Fat post)

I treated myself like a project. Where did I have challenges or "opportunities for improvement"? What did I want? How was I going to get there? Here's what I came up with for me:

Portion size = bandster portions. Food/healthy bloggers - whatever you call them. Have you noticed their portion sizes? Bottom line for me eating the right band size portions had to be done. I had a dilated pouch at one point during my journey and wasn't going back there. Plus, I had also self-diagnosed myself with portion distortion. While there is hardly any fluid in my band, the band is still there and I am a firm believer that pouch can be stretched by eating too much regardless of how much or little fluid is in the band. I just refuse to do it. Period. I eat the amount I'm supposed to and if/when I get hungry again. I just eat more. So, portion control - check.

Eat healthier. People that are healthy eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Neither my husband or I were eating enough. I now make sure that every meal includes a fruit or veggie as before unless I was in "diet" mode where I was making sure I had x of this and y of that, I was lax in this area.

And sure, I still eat crap. Remember the mini bundt cake? But it's not often and it HAS to be good. Because if it isn't worth the calories, I'm not eating it.

True story - my husband is in the military. He has physicals. This year when they took his cholesterol it was super low (it was good before, but now it's even better). The doc asked him what he's been doing in the past year and my husband said eating what my wife puts in front of me, she packs my lunch, etc. (and I'm sure something about me losing my mind and all that, but that's OK). The doc said to tell me good job and to keep up what I'm doing. THAT made me feel super good!

Exercise. I've exercised throughout my entire journey. But what I wasn't doing was strength training. I don't like going to the gym and using the weight machines. That's where bootcamp came in. Sure, I was scared at first, and boy was I sore! But I knew that if I hung in there that it would pay off and it has.

Find an exercise you enjoy. It's important because consistency is important. If you hate your exercise you aren't going to do it long term. But also remember, when you start something new, it will be hard. Don't think hard = hate. Give a new exercise a chance and ease into it.

Stop the diet mentality / step away from the scale. I am really not a fan of saying that I have stopped dieting, but I can't think of another way to describe it. Because regardless of what you eat, do, etc., you are "on a diet". It's just what is that diet. What I mean by stopping is not looking at things based on calories and can I or should I eat this. I look at the quality of the food and do I want it. Because if I really want to eat coconut M+M's for lunch, I'm better off having them for lunch than having something "healthy" and continuing to think about the stupid candy. And yep, I did do this one lunch and haven't done it since. Not because "I can't" or "shouldn't"....or "won't", but more so (I think) because I have told myself I can and find that I don't want to as a result. (Yes, I am weird that way!)

Also, I stepped away from the scale. I started weighing myself less and less. The number is only one measurement, yet it's one that consumes me from all my baggage. If my clothes are actually getting looser, does it matter that I weigh 2-3 more pounds than I did the week before? For me, the answer is no. This is a work in progress, but I have not weighed myself since December and frankly I can't say I miss it.

I should also say in regard to the scale that I think it's an evolution. I would never have considered not using the scale during the weight loss phase, but did not weigh daily. It's important to have the measurement. In fact, I think it's important to have your weight and your measurements.

Figure out what makes me feel good. What makes me feel good isn't going to necessarily make someone else feel good, but what I figured out is that I need to exercise during the week. It helps me manage a stressful job and just makes me feel good! And honestly, I eat better without even thinking about it on the days I have exercised. Go figure!

I found that having tools such as my Polar and Garmin while they may or may not be accurate on calories, they provide me with a sense of accomplishment to see the calories and time they display. It just works for me.

I figured out what made me feel good by getting into slumps and looking at what had changed recently and why I didn't I feel good. Two things for me surfaced pretty consistently: not eating generally well and not exercising.
Continue to assess and re-assess. I check in with myself periodically. It may sound stupid, but I find that if I don't consciously check in that I just keep going on auto pilot and then I project something is wrong some other way. For example, I realized a while back that I wasn't enjoying my bootcamp as much anymore. I was coming back from morning camp grumpy. Unfortunately, I was taking it out on my husband now and then (boo me). I sat myself down and had a talk with myself (funny picture, huh?). I realized that my trainer's style was no longer meeting my needs. So I started looking at other camps in the area and go to that camp as well.

In summary, this is a journey. One that will continue to evolve and I hope only get better! Just like the decision to get a band, all the other phases are also very personal and you have to figure out what works for you. Try not to compare yourself to others, but do try to learn from others or appreciate what they are doing as you might find little nuggets that also work for you!

Holy crap, I almost forgot my blogging! The intent of my blog has been to document my journey , but I had also hoped that it might be helpful to others as I had wanted to find long term successful people in the beginning and couldn't. This many years later my blog may not be specifically "all about the band", but I'd be a freak if at this point day in and day out it was about it, right?! I can't tell you how helpful it has been to be able to go back and look at past posts. I highly recommend blogging about your journey....and please don't blog and then disappear leaving everyone wondering! There are so many blogs I used to follow from over 5 years ago and *poof*.


Lap Band Gal said...

Thank you for this post...I couldn't have said it better myself. AMEN Sista!

Darlin1 said...

Great post!

Jacquie said...

Great post. Thank you for sharing. As I am getting much closer to maintenance, I will use this as a reference!

FitBy40 said...

Thanks for this. It was encouraging and uplifting...just what I need!

Band Groupie said...

Awesome post!

Jody V said...

Great post Fluffy! I'm using your blog to help me get going again! Your commitment to your health amazes me to no end. Thanks for sharing!