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.”
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.