Friday, January 28, 2011

The Commitment of a Lifetime

I’m still fighting a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder (namely, I’m unmotivated to exercise and thinking eating chocolate might make the sun come out), so this morning I went looking for a kick in the butt.


I found “The Commitment of a Lifetime,” which I wrote in January 2007, a few months before I got to goal. Reading it helped me see how in recent months I’ve slipped into the “motivation mindset,” thinking I need motivation to be successful. Motivation, shmotivation! Commitment is the cure for what’s ailing me. I need to recommit to being healthy and keeping my weight off. If I’m not “motivated” to move or I’m not “motivated” to eat the right thing, commitment says, “Lynn, just do it anyway!”


So today I am recommitting to maintenance, something I knew four years ago would be the most challenging part of my journey. First order of business? Put on my workout clothes (I don’t want to) and go into my workout room (I don’t want to) and pop in a Jackie or Leslie tape (I don’t want to) and get my sweat on. So what if I don’t “want” to? I’m doing it anyway because that’s what commitment is: doing.

The Commitment of a Lifetime (from Jan. 2007)

Goal. Maintenance. Lifetime. The three-word process Weight Watchers uses for the next phase of my weight-loss journey. Losing weight was the easy part. Keeping it off? Well, that’s a whole different beast.

As of this week I’ve lost 153 pounds, more than half myself, and instead of a size 32, I am an 8. I still have a few pounds to go, but I’m not sure how many since my goal is based on my waist size, not a number on the scale. I’ll explain in a minute.

It's taken me two years to reach this point. Two years of forgiving, accepting, not accepting, and learning. A lot of learning. I could earn a Ph.D. from everything I’ve learned these last eight months. Yet the education of Lynn continues.

The physical transformation of anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight pales in comparison to the psychological transformation that must take place in order to maintain weight loss. Committing to losing weight was easy, and as I marched down the scale, I embraced new eating habits and new foods, and I learned all I could about nutrition. Then I met some people from Weight Watchers who had recommitted to losing weight after gaining back most or all of the weight they’d previously lost. I asked them what happened and they all said they didn’t commit to maintenance. They went back to their old ways of eating more and moving less. Successful weight loss, they realized, is a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet. It’s more than food. It’s how our bodies move and feel. It’s about strength and metabolism. So I started to think of the program beyond food, and my goal morphed from the scale to the body.

Just because someone is thin does not mean they are healthy and fit, the same way that being overweight doesn’t mean you can’t have excellent cholesterol levels and strong muscles. The scale is not the best gauge of fitness. Waist size and body fat levels are much better indicators. I’ve met my body fat goal of less than 25 percent, but I’ll officially be at goal when I lose one more inch off my waist.

I’m not a joiner of anything. I even do the Weight Watchers program online because I’m more comfortable doing things alone. But I knew if I didn’t want to be a statistic I’d need to commit to an even greater level of fitness than my walking routine. This meant I needed access to gym equipment. I don’t have the room or the cash to have it in my house, so with some trepidation I joined a gym.

The feeling most engrained in my head from my days at 300 pounds is embarrassment. That didn’t disappear just because the weight was gone. At the gym, I wanted to be an invisible entity – slap on my headphones, hop on a treadmill, maybe lift a few weights. I would slip in unnoticed and leave unnoticed. Within a few weeks, however, a new feeling emerged. Confidence. I became comfortable in the physical space of machines and bodies and equipment. People were kind, and the staff gently encouraged me to reach beyond my original fitness goals. When I started developing muscles I didn’t know I had and finding hip bones and rib bones I’d thought were hidden away forever, I tried to thank one of the staff for his help. He simply smiled and said, “It was all you.”

I began to protest, but then it hit me: I’m the only one who gets me up in the morning, throws my bed hair back in a bun, and schleps off to the gym. I’m the only one who makes my legs pump the elliptical or the bike. I’m the only one who lifts my body into a chin-up and muscles my way through butterflies and pullovers and triceps pulls. And finally I realized that I was the only one who lost my weight and I’m the only one who can keep it off. I needed confidence to see that, and with confidence comes trust. The next step is for me to trust that I can keep this journey going for a lifetime.

I’m still surprised sometimes when I look in the mirror. It’s not easy wrapping my brain or eyes around 153 pounds gone, but it’s not so hard that I will forget the me of two years ago who was embarrassed and lacked confidence. She’s a part of my past now.

Goal. Maintenance. Lifetime. Bring it on.

14 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  2. I hear you on this post today, Lynn! I have been struggling for the past several months with eating properly and exercising. The stress of work in the first part of January got to me (thank goodness the stressful project is done), and I made poor eating choices. I am recommiting to getting back on the wagon. Thanks for sharing with us that weight maintenance is not always easy.

    Ali

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  3. Hi! I've enjoyed reading some of your posts. Congrats on your amazing weight loss! I have recently start a weight loss blog for myself to help keep me motivated on this journey. I would love it if you would follow me...I need all the support I can get!

    http://reeceh22-losingit.blogspot.com/

    Thanks,

    Cherice

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  4. Hi Lynn,

    Thanks for sharing that wonderful post. Your description of how you felt about going to the gym could have been written by me--about myself. I am something of an introvert when it comes to doing new things. I guess I just don't feel confident about myself in so many ways--a self-concept that I'm trying to change.

    These long, dark winter months are difficult, and SAD is a reality for me and many others. I think we start to look for comfort in all the wrong places (chocolate, too many carbs, restaurants, etc.) As a result, I need to recommit to healthy eating and exercise, which I have done today.

    During the past few months, I have joined a couple of challenges and have discovered that I don't do well with them. I guess I have to find what works the best for me. Thank you for sharing your experience. It makes this dreary winter day a bit more hopeful!

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  5. "I don't want to" - boy are those words familiar. I have to tell you, that after a few months of not really doing any weights with my arms, when I finally forced myself to hit those machines at the gym on Wednesday, I could feel the endorphins washing over me almost instantly. It was so noticeable it was almost scary - and I wondered why in the hell do I NOT do things that work so well for me?

    Good reminder on the maintenance. Hope you had a great morning working out. :)

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  6. I was just thinking about this this cold winter morning. You just put it into words. Another winner! (btw you asked a few posts back (?) about what would interest people in the 'book' that you are writing: this is a fantastic example--I think. Also I would be very interested to read what motivates people to lose weight. How they gained the weight (especially 100+ pounds...?!). Reaching goal weight and staying there. And finally--as you are doing--maintenance. There are TONS of diet books, but how many on maintenance?)**sorry this is such a long comment. Will you be writing first person or will it be a mixture of personal experience and what you have culled from your blog (that would also be interesting). Hope the writing is going well and best of luck!--of which we often make our own.

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  7. This really hit home, I'm just begining my weight loss journy and I have been thinking a LOT about the mental aspect of weight recentlly.

    www.mycrazydiet.wordpress.com
    Lanea E.

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  8. I am seriously loving these maintenance posts, and I'm seeing more and more of them (thank heaven!) It's been a long, dark winter, Lynn. Hang in there and remember, February is a short month. The clouds will lift and I hope we get more energy! We have seen the sun exactly 3 times in 2 months here in Indiana. Thanks for this post :)

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  9. Man, I have been mulling over this maintenance thing this week A LOT. Its just unreal sometimes how unrelenting it is. But it is what it is, and I don't want to go back, so marching forward is the only thing to do. Working on it when I don't want to.

    Great post, Lynn!

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  10. Wonderful ideas here. I love the term COMMITMENT. I mean really LOVE it! That is what I am about this time around...being committed. Thank you!

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  11. I just blogged about the same thing this morning. I think it is especially hard in the winter with the dark, cold days.

    But take it from me - now that I'm recovering from one of those periods of "not doing it" for quite a while - get off the couch and make whatever bargain you have to in order to get moving. I didn't for a while, and now I'm longing for my maintenance mode. Thankfully, I didn't do horrible amounts of damage, but complacency leads to some scary things.

    You can do it!

    Cheers,
    Melissa

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  12. Nice post, Lynn.

    I prefer the word "assumption" to commitment. My wedding, for example, was a commitment. My marriage is an assumption.

    During my weight loss I made a commitment, for the rest of my life, but that commitment can crumble if I don't cross over to assumption. I must assume that each day will include all the elements: the scale, the exercise the food monitoring. It ain't optional. It's hard work. Sigh. Fortunately, it's all on my shoulders. With regard to my marriage, my husband has to keep his half of the assumption going too. Fortunately, that's working out okay. Many a good marriage does not. Sigh, again.

    Sending you good karma.

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  13. Ruth, sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Thank you for the support of the book I'm writing. Barbara Berkeley and I (from refusetoregain.com) are writing a book about maintenance. You are right, there are so very few books like that out there. As for what motivates people to lose weight or why they gained in the first place, I know that question gets as many answers as people who answer it :) I'll ask on Lynn's Weigh on Facebook. Thanks for reading and for your feedback.

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