A few weeks ago, I started a series of blogs in response to Barbara’s Refuse to Regain Season of Transformation , principals she has identified as imperative to permanent weight loss and maintenance. As I wrote earlier, when I read Barbara’s principles, I realized I’ve become complacent in some areas of maintenance and that it’s time to dust off my map of this maintenance journey. Today I address “Transformative Principle #3: Find others who are transforming.” One of my favorite topics in maintenance.
Some excerpts from those blogs: “If you’re a maintainer and you hang out with people in maintenance, you find out just how normal you are, even though to the SAD (Standard American Diet) world you’re considered strange.
“In less than 48 hours [of meeting the Divas], I formed a lasting bond with women I’d not have otherwise known…without a similar commitment to weight loss and maintenance as mine. It’s not every day you meet folks like that.
“We agree we are better maintainers and better friends for having met. We feel safe in each other’s presence. This doesn’t mean we’re not safe or comfortable with people who are living the SAD life. Far from it. It’s just really nice to gather with a group of folks who ‘get it.’ No apologies, no explanations, no excuses. Just an understanding among friends.
“It is almost an aside that together we’ve lost 651 pounds. Yes, we’ve lost a lot of weight. We discuss food and exercise. But as maintainers know, food and exercise are hardly the bulk and heft of maintenance. It is in understanding ourselves and what motivates us to eat and exercise. It is how we relate to the people we live with and see every day. It is, ultimately, how we feel deep down about ourselves. That is what the Maintaining Divas talk about. And it is what I wish for everyone who is losing weight and maintaining: to find a few people with whom you feel comfortable to start chatting with and slowly develop a sustaining, intimate bond that goes deep into what weight-loss and maintenance is all about.
“Surely if losing weight and maintaining weight was merely a matter of eating right and exercising, anyone could do it. But you know and I know that eating right and exercising is imbedded in a psychological need to feel better about ourselves, and to connect with other people who get it is a true key to success.”
Having a support system in which people are atune to your maintenance is really important. Also crucial to this maintenance life is who we live with day in and day out. Barbara wrote, “…obesity is ‘catching.’ A person is increasingly likely to be obese if their friends are obese. Same goes for family members.”
As you may know, I’m recently divorced and have moved an hour away from my previous home. My ex-husband, Larry, was my biggest supporter as I lost weight. He lost 25 pounds, too, and has maintained it. He bought me a bike when I got to goal and we became, as he said, the active couple he’d always hoped we’d become.
Not living with Larry has influenced me in a way I was not expecting. I no longer cook for two. And working out…well…let’s just say I could use some improvement in that area, too. I know motivation comes only from within and not at the encouragement of another, but when you live with someone, their habits influence your habits and (hopefully, in terms of positive health) vice versa. Larry was a health-conscious influence.
Seven months post-divorce, I confess my eating habits aren’t what they used to be. They’re not horrible, just irregular and could use some tweaking. I also find a myriad excuses to not push myself physically like I used to. Not that I was in competition with Larry, but living with him – he who worked out regularly – reminded me to do the same.
Dating is its own maintenance maze. Like one of the Divas said to me the other day, nothing will make you gain weight quite like dating, because it’s so easy to take on someone else’s habits. I am mindful of my eating, but a few pounds have crept onto my body, and they have everything to do with restaurant food and swapping workout time for dating time. Dating is definitely another piece to this maintenance puzzle.
Our lives are not stagnant. Something or someone will always stand in the way of maintenance if we let them. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people…that’s not always easy. But having a few is crucial. We need to know we’re not alone. We need people around us who “get it” to remind us that SAD is a choice, just as is maintenance. I’m feeling a little lost right now, but I will rebound because I have myself and my will to maintain, and – perhaps more importantly – I’ve got the Divas and Barbara and this blog. As any maintainer will tell you, if you don’t believe you’re worth it, you will not succeed, but it’s important to have a few people have your back.