My friend Colton is always reminding me, “Life’s a marathon, babe, not a sprint.”
The same can be said for maintenance. Only I forget sometimes and fail to see the big picture when I’m living inside my bubble of scale-watching minutia.
In maintenance (to paraphrase Newton), for every emotion, there’s an equal and opposite “remotion.” Since reaching goal four years ago, I’ve been challenged/bored, frustrated/encouraged, confused/crystal clear and obsessed/aware. Thankfully, however, for every moment of obsession, I seem to have a moment of awareness, usually sparked by a fellow maintainer.
Ellen of Fat Girl Wearing Thin posted a blog recently about the betters and worsts of maintenance. She begins, “Maintenance is a bit like experiencing the ups and downs in a long-term relationship. There are good days when everything is going along just fine and dandy. But then, there are other days when there is a bit of, how shall we say… inner turmoil?”
When I was no longer pursuing a scale goal and the compliments died off because everyone got used to me looking the way I do now and very few people – let alone me – understood how to stay the same weight, the question I had to answer was, “Now what?” I spent more than two years pursuing the bright light at the end of the tunnel (my goal weight), but when I got there, no one handed me the light and said, “Here you go, hon! You’ll always know where you’re going now.”
As I commented in Laura Jayne’s recent post on maintenance, when I reached goal at 138 pounds, my body took me down to 128. Then I started thinking 120 might be even better. I got to 125 before I understood how obsessed I’d become with losing AND how afraid I’d become of gaining. I stopped losing, but I took that obsession into the gym and began over-training. I paid a high price physically, injuring joints that were already battling osteoarthritis.
Two years ago, I allowed myself (albeit reluctantly, I admit) to sit in my obsession and to take my exercise routine down several notches to see what happened. And what happened was...not much. I maintained for a year before I had knee surgery (which was a year ago tomorrow…wow…has it been that long already?). Then perimenopause hit like a ton of bricks late last year. The result: I’ve gained about 10 pounds from my ideal weight of 130-132. Coming to terms with my ever-changing body at age 48 has definitely been the biggest maintenance challenge so far.
In maintenance, it’s imperative we direct the positive, determined energy we had while losing weight to other goals. To meet the challenge of my changing body, I decided last spring to concentrate my energy less on losing weight and more on exercise goals.
My first goal was to, by Labor Day, do a 20-mile bike ride with no more than a 5-minute break. Because I rode 19 miles in 1 hour, 35 minutes on Sunday (I was so proud of my knees!), I’ve changed that goal to 25 miles.
My second goal is to walk a 5K in 36 minutes, breaking my personal best of 38 minutes. So far I’ve walked 3 miles in 41 minutes, so I have a ways to go. But my thighs are strong and that makes me happy. I get outside and that makes me happy.
The other part of the challenge is, of course, food. I still watch my food intake, definitely. But I’ve loosened up some of my hard and fast rules, at least the ones that directed my obsession. For instance, I used to hate going out to eat. Was afraid to try food that – oh no! – might contain some fat! *eyeroll*
Now I love discovering new restaurants with fresh menus. I’m in love with Mad Mex and their pepita hummus, and their Overtly Masculine Grilled Portabello with Foo-Foo Tofu fajita is seriously fabulous. In my super-obsessed restrictive days, tabouli was taboo and tzatziki sauce was a no-no. Now, they’re my “usuals” at Greek Stop. It’s all about moderation and control and having the strength to get all Mom on myself when I beg for more than I need. Just as strong thighs make me happy, so does a good food find.
Maintenance doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Maintenance is part of the fiber of my life, and like everything in life, nothing stays the same. My body will change. My mind will change. These things happen over time. And time, as Lyn from Escape from Obesity wrote in a recent post, is the true measure of success.
Maintenance is a marathon, babe, not a sprint. There will be equals and opposites and obsessions along the way. But there can also be clarity and awareness that can take us on longer bike rides and faster walks, and lead us to some really excellent enchiladas and gyros if we just step outside the minutia and into the big picture.