Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lynn's "Balance Plan"

I’ve been reading over some of my writing as I research an upcoming Refuse To Regain blog about an aha! moment I had recently regarding exercise and weight maintenance. I came across this blog, “Lynn’s ‘Balance Plan,’” written in June 2008 for RTR, and I thought how, more than two years later, it still represents how I feel about weight loss and maintenance. I wanted to share it with you in hopes maybe you’d relate to some of it yourself. I’d love to hear from you if it does, and even if it doesn't, and why.

Have you seen or perhaps even used a balance board? It’s basically a 2-foot by 1-foot wooden board with a rollerball underneath. The idea is to stand on it while performing other exercises such as lifting free weights. The goal is to teach the body how to balance itself, to be more stable.

The first time I got on one of those suckers, I felt like I was on an amusement park ride. I was all over the place! Wobbling here, wobbling there. I could barely stay on the thing, let alone lift weights at the same time.

Over time, however, my body adjusted to the subtle movement of the rollerball and I learned to trust my instincts – to feel the rocking back and forth and to stay stable – as I concentrated on lifting weights. I found the balance.

And so it is with weight loss/weight maintenance. As reader/fellow maintainer Susan said in a comment posted to Barbara’s recent blog (see “Let’s Get Specific”), “Perfection is not the key to maintenance. It is finding balance you can live with.”

In response to Barbara’s challenge that we name and explain our “lifestyle change” plan that works for us, I offer “The Balance Plan” (or as I’ve nicknamed it: “How Lynn Walks and Chews Gum at the Same Time”).

The Balance Plan incorporates everything in my life. I blog, I answer email, work out, feed the birds, water the plants, babysit my granddaughter, eat, sleep, shower, go to parties, and go on vacation and all the while, maintenance buzzes in the background. It’s always with me, around me, and in me. It is me.

I’m adopting as my credo something my friend Sondra wrote in a comment: “I choose to stand my ground that I will put what is best for me first.”

Amen.

To maintain my weight loss, I’m learning to rely on my instinct and what “feels” right, in the same way I trust my body will keep me balanced on a wobble board. I also eat whole foods as close to their natural state, most of the time. I allow for chocolate and pudding and vices such as that, but always, always in moderation. I still use, as a tool, the Points system to help me gauge my overall food intake, but even that is becoming more “natural” for me to determine. My goal is to one day eat in total accordance to my body’s needs.

I’ve always said there’s a reason why pregnancy is supposed to take 9 months. We need time to prepare. There’s a reason why weight loss isn’t overnight. We need time to prepare for maintenance. Whether you lost weight through diet and exercise alone or with some kind of surgery, how you lost the weight is only a preparatory class for maintenance and forever, and as Sondra said, you have to change your lifestyle to get to goal.

It's frustrating to read posts on my favorite Weight Watchers discussion board from people returning from vacation bragging about how much food they ate and how “off plan” they were. They were on a “food vacation,” happy and content to stuff themselves with all their old favorites.

In real life – in real weight loss and in real maintenance – there are no such “food vacations.” Yes, there are times when we might indulge in some particular food, but we know it can’t be all the time and we know that to continue our maintenance balance, we must plan for such splurges. And as Susan reminds us, “…the most important thing is getting right back to good/clean eating after a couple of not so great meals.”

When these people return from their food vacations, the often post that they are are sad to get “back on plan.” They miss their old lifestyle. They see the new lifestyle they must embrace and resist it, like it’s their enemy.

On the Balance Plan, I understand that I have to be a friend to my body, to my food choices, and my exercise regimen, and to stand on the same side as my “lifestyle change,” to be fully immersed in it and not leave it at home when I go on vacation or out with friends or to a party or on a picnic. I take it with me at all times because it’s who I am, just as sure as I am a 44-year-old female.

The Balance Plan is open to new ideas and research. I educate myself and question “authority.” I ask lots of questions, try new foods and various approaches to obtaining the right nutrients. As I said earlier, I trust my instinct. I trust there’s a balance.

If I fall of the balance board, I get right back on. Not getting back on is not an option just as I can’t choose to not be 5’5” tall. The Balance Plan is innate so its “rules” change from person to person. But in the end, it’s about being your own best friend – walking and chewing gum at the same time, so to speak.

13 comments:

  1. I believe that when we choose to take "vacations" from our chosen healthy eating plan or plan "cheat" days, we've not yet been to the very bottom of the barrel and truly grasped the concept that getting weight off is not a temporary thing that will soon be over and we can go back to eating the way we had been. Until that mental shift is complete, I'm not sure we are able to understand the difference between a "diet" and the balanced eating you are talking about. But when that shift happens, it opens up a whole new world of freedom to enjoy with feeling cheated. Is it easy? Of course not, it's the hardest thing I've ever done and I'm not yet there by any means. But I've been to the bottom and I know I'm not on a "diet." I'm not yet to maintenance and these last 20 pounds are being very stubborn, but this time around, I'm not looking at maintenance as the "end," but as a new beginning and I love the word balance!

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  2. Your analogy is a good one. More interesting though is the observation about 'vacations' and the return to 'the diet' as if it were shackles rather than a choice. You have put your finger on the reason for such high recidivism in 'dieting' (e.g. weight-loss by any means). The view that it is a restriction, not a choice. Good job! And something I will keep in mind.
    sincerely, from someone working to find their own balance in later middle life.

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  3. I am traveling right now--on vacation. For the first couple of days, I was allowing foods that I know are not on my plan. Big Mistake! I felt sluggish and like I was falling into a deep hole--one that I had fallen into before. I know from experience--lots of experience--that every time I allow myself to break my plan, it means that I have an even deeper hole to crawl out of, which may take years. I have made the decision to stay on my plan while traveling. I know that I will have more energy and will enjoy everything more.

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  4. I like how you put that. Can't choose the maintenance plan just like you can't choose your height. Something to think about. Same with what Sharon said: choosing to take a vacation or cheat day isn't the right mindset. Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

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  5. What a great post Lynn. For me now, if I eat poorly I feel poorly so just how I feel is reason enough for me not to want to go back to my old ways. It really is about finding that balance plan.

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  6. I never think of a vacation from my eating any more. I eat the things I do because of what I do activity wise most days. Yes, I have those snack attack days, but when I really plan indulgences (like cupcakes), it is always on a day where I will be burning a lot of calories.

    I now do not compartmentalize food into good and bad categories. It's just food and has no inherent evilness. I do think of food in terms of its caloric benefit to me and how I can work that into a day.

    Sometimes my balance shifts a bit too much, but the longer I do this, the easier it is to 'right the ship' so to speak.

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  7. I so agree and get that same feeling when I hear about cheat days or vacations, I mean I bought into that my first time around, well enough said, I came back to redo what I already did. I love knowing that my very next bite is a step back on track if I fall and more importantly I can eat cake, I just must eat the salad that day too... and I want too!

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  8. I lost 80 pounds 24 years ago with Weight Watchers and swore by my
    " Cheat day" it was always immediately after a weigh in, in hindsight it was a permission to binge one day a week. No surprise to me now that I gained all the weight back. I love that I no longer binge and I eat what I want and have found the balance. I hope that maintenance works the same way and it sounds like it does.

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  9. I find it easier in the long run to pretty much stay with what I normally eat, no matter where I am - for example, just because I'm being treated to a nice restaurant meal doesn't mean I should choose items that I normally wouldn't...I've paid for that with an upset stomach in the past, because my body is used to more of the healthy foods.

    Of course, I will be having coconut gelato next month when I'm in Hawaii, but that's the only place I can get it, so for me, it's a treat, not a food vacation.

    Oh, and 44? Did you step into a time-machine? I could have sworn we were age buddies! ;)

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  10. You re so right. Balance is all about finding a way to live our life. It's not about a diet or whatever, it's about changing our lives. In a balanced life there is no such thing as vacation or cheat days as such; it's our lives - not perfectly lived, but richly lived.

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  11. What a really great way to put it. Balance. I am only in the beginning of my journey but I look to you for inspiration. You have been there, you DID it and you are still doing it! Hooray! I hope to be where you are in the near future and I hope that I will be able to embrace that "balance."
    www.mandasweighin.blogspot.com

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  12. I just happened upon your blog and loved this post. Life is a journey of finding what I call the middle way, that balance between health and pleasure. I think that over time make gradual lifestyle changes that become part of who we are, so that we no longer even think about being on a diet or off of it. Food is no longer "good" and "bad" it is just food with more objective qualities and the whole thing feels natural and balanced.

    I always look to the wise ways of my 94-year-old grandmother who has spent her life in healthy moderation with lots of healthy eating and little indulgences along the way.

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