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The cycles of maintenance (warning: LONG)

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Elissa View Drop Down
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    Posted: October 31 2003 at 6:46am
I'm starting this thread to share my recent experiences, but primarily for self-therapeutic reasons.

Now that I've lost most of the weight and have been eating healthily since July 02, I've noticed several things about myself regarding these struggles that have helped me a great deal.

For me:

1) The first six to nine months are usually almost effortless. It's such a relief to be free of the bonds of overeating, and to feel and look better, and this give me the energy and motivation to go forward with relative ease. This is the "honeymoon period".

2) In the past, and this time, I always run into some trouble after the honeymoon period ends. Quite often, a life changing event will catapult me out of the honeymoon period: losing my job, or a relationship, getting a promotion, moving, etc. For some reason, it's as if reality suddenly sinks in and the food struggles return.

This is the point in time that I need to be the most vigilant, because this is "make or break" time. In my past, I would go all the way back, giving in to the struggles and gaining all of the weight back (and thus, going into the awful, final stage, "relapse").

Not this time. Relapse is NOT inevitable!

While several things made it different this time, I think the greatest contributing factor to getting through the post-honemoon struggling period was the simple awareness that this is all just a normal part of it, the struggling--something to get used to, something to deal with, and not a big, dramatic, horrible thing. Struggling again does not mean that I'm failing. For whatever reason, I am wired this way and this is all normal and ok.

Take it easy is something I used to hear in the 12-step program a lot, and this is essentially what needs to be practiced during the post-honeymoon stage. From a practical standpoint, that means:

1. struggle
2. eat a bit more (for me, that means I'm eating more/playing/even bingeing with my healthy foods; still no "bad" stuff, as distinguished from relapse bingeing)
3. wake up in the morning, shrug off yesterday, and move on, accepting this as normal and ok and most of all NOT beating myself up. Strive to return to healthy eating behavior for today. Take steps/use tools that I know result in success, like exercise.
4. No matter what, do NOT give up! Keep doing 3. every day, no matter how terrible you feel.

I have found that when employing this method, the struggle period will last anywhere from two weeks to two months, then it stops and the road becomes smoother once again.

I recently lost my job, again, and under very unhappy and unfair circumstances. Anger and bitterness lead straight to food struggles for me, and as much as I tried to put this event in a good place, I was angry for a couple of weeks.

I was suddenly home every day, all day, and I was overeating (albeit, all of my "good" foods. Nothing nasty). After a few weeks, I was becoming scared because it was becoming very hard to stop. But I took it easy on myself, very easy, telling myself it was ok and it would stop very soon. That we were "working on it". I decided to start working out again, every morning, knowing that this would take me in the right direction.

I knew I had gained some weight because I could feel it. I got on the scale and it looked to be about six pounds. I didn't consider it "real" six pounds, more like the kind you gain on vacation when you eat a lot and take it off in a week upon returning home.

So I had a long talk with myself, telling myself that I wasn't going to let those ***s who were involved with my firing undo all of my hard work and my new wonderful life. I decided I was tired of food, and that THIS WAS IT.

I went to the grocery store and bought lots of salad and veggie stuff and got right back on the wagon. After a day or two suddenly it became easy again, because I wanted it so much and I enjoyed seeing the scale go quickly down again.

So now, I realize, I am back in a sort of honeymoon period, again, and again at 141.5 I am two pounds above my lowest weight (139.5). I would like to be 130-135 but I am no rush to get there.

The next time I'm hit with a big life changing event (which is inevitable, so many are in our plans for the near future) I am going to be ready for it. I will continue employing all of the methods and tools that I have acquired. The greatest one I have is to love myself, to take proper care of myself, lovingly, to be gentle, forgiving, and to never lose sight of the prize.

Maybe for me, long term success will be a perpetual cycle of honeymoon phase (easy), struggle, honeymoon phase. I have a fantasy that someday there will be no more struggles, and it will be easy to be naturally thin and stay that way. It's a lovely fantasy, but looking back on my entire adult life, that's not the way it is for me, I think. Acceptance of this fact may just be the key to my long term success.

Thanks for listening. Please do share your thoughts and experiences on maintaining long term weight loss (or anything else that's on your mind!)

Elissa
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papillon_purple View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote papillon_purple Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 31 2003 at 9:55pm
Elissa, I'm so glad you posted this, because I've just realized I'm going through the same thing. I relocated to a different city for school, and had a good 2 months of not going to the gym, and not eating very healthy because I was still adjusting to the area.

I've been eating heathier for the past few weeks, and just started going to the gym on a more regular basis this past week. I went to a few workout classes, and I could not believe it. I could not get through the exercises, when before, it would not have been a problem for me. I haven't bought a scale, but I can just feel that my body is losing all that I had worked on before.

When I left the class, I felt really dismayed because I did not feel like I put in all that I could. But at the same time, I thought to myself that this was the motivation I needed to make myself work out more. It would have been worse if I had not gone to the class and realized I need to put more in, and then a few more months down the line, have less muscle and gained more weight than I have already.

Even with all the motivation, taking it easy is definitely key. I've decieded no matter how hectic the day is, to try to put in a little bit of exercise. There's no need for 2 hrs of exercise every day, just as much as I can, and the results will come.
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