What Happens AFTER Weight Loss?
I’m not anywhere close to reaching the maintenance stage. I’ve still got a good 15 lbs. left to go. But, I think about maintenance all the time. I know it is a topic many of
our members think about. It’s that point after you’ve reached that number you’ve set for yourself and you think, “Well. What now?”
I have been there before. I lost a lot of weight a few years ago and I remember when I hit my goal. It felt a lot like after you had opened all your gifts on Christmas – there was a lot of excitement but I didn’t know what to do or where to start.
For me so many questions and issues came to mind when I thought about maintaining my new self. Perhaps you’ll recognize some of them:
- How do you live as a new person? People noticed my dramatic weight loss and every day I spent having to explain “why” or “how.” One person even asked me if I had cancer. The assault on my senses of what I had believed to be a personal journey was suddenly opened up for public examination.
- Fear of failure. I had done the hard yards but I always kept looking over my shoulder waiting for a trip up. After I had reached the stage where I had accomplished something so profound and frankly, life altering, I worried that I wouldn’t have the strength to continue long term – especially since I had dieted on and off before.
- What’s my goal? I felt like the all important “target” was missing and without that I would slowly slide back into my old habits. Without the structure and focus of the end game I wondered what it is that I was working towards. What’s my new goal?
How did I handle maintenance? I struggled – especially with the personal questions. I felt like my weight or lack thereof had again taken over my life. Fortunately, there were only so many questions to be answered and armed with some stock comments I was able to deflect. My weight loss was about me. Not about the public.
The other two issues – the fear and the lack of goals were where I really had to change my thinking. What saved me was an article – long lost I’m afraid – that pointed out focusing on the number on the scale was a loaded proposition. If you are always chasing a weight number you may miss the bigger picture. The weight loss and maintenance for me was really about improving my health.
I reminded myself of the other barometers of success in order to keep moving forward with my new habits. My knees felt less stress. I could hike with my dog. I had more energy. The new goal was to keep my body feeling good. If I moved a little in one direction or the other it wasn’t something to fixate on. I felt the overall well-being was my mantra.
I still feel that way even though I have gained back all the weight and then some. It wasn’t about me failing at the maintenance phase – I stayed at my goal weight for five years and felt fantastic. A serious illness was what caused the weight return.
So I march forward with two concurrent goals this time – the short term number I’d like to see, but the healthier me I need for raising my quality of life. Knowing it is an ongoing effort I know I can’t fail – I can just keep moving forward.
I now want to ask you to share your stories – do these issues ring true with your experience? I know what worked for me may not work for you. What has helped you stay at maintenance? We want to inspire others by our journeys, and we also want to know what motivation, tools or advice you use or need for that phase of the experience. Let’s get started by talking about it.