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AIM: Adventures in Maintenance

Posted Feb 18 2013 6:00am
During weight loss, we’re rock stars. The scale goes down and people notice. But when the scale stops moving and the compliments wane, we’re more like the roadies, the people who work long after the music stops and the fans go home. No one pays us much attention, but we’re imperative to the success of our former rock star selves.

Adventures in Maintenance (AIM) is Shelley, Lori, Cammy, Debby and Lynn, former rock star weight-loss bloggers who now write as roadies of weight maintenance. Collectively, we have lost 528 pounds and have been maintaining for 24.5 years. We formed AIM because we know what it’s like to take aim at maintenance. The perfect shot is really hard, but you can get close with practice.

As bloggers, we want to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. Although we will continue to write independently, on the first Monday of each month, we will post a blog on the same topic.

One subject, five voices. And you, our readers. There’s a larger conversation to be had about weight maintenance, so we encourage you to add your voice. Let us know what topics you’d like us to address, and when you read our posts, add your comments. Together, we can dispel myths, encourage each other, and take a blogger’s AIM at the heart of maintenance. Look for our first AIM post on Monday, March 4 and the topic is: “What’s Different This Time.”

Allow us to introduce ourselves:

Shelley
For those of you new to my blog, My Journey To Fit , I’m Shelley and I’m a mom to two grown sons, Sam and Max, and wife to Jeff. We’ve been married for nearly 29 years.

I’ll be turning 50 in a few months, and quite honestly, I’m pretty dang excited about that…losing my excess weight has allowed me to BE and DO so many things that I never thought would be “me.” And while I don’t know what is in store, I’m happy to be physically able to take on whatever catches my fancy (and yes, I realize I sounded like a 90-year-old with that phrase).

My blog has evolved over the years, starting with my diet adventure and grudging acceptance of exercise, to the discovery that I liked running (I was the one who said I’d never run…lesson learned, never say never!), along with shopping for clothes (so much more fun now that I’m not relegated to the plus-size department), and my hobbies – I learned to knit last year and have been torturing treating my readers with updates and pictures of my knitting projects. Who knows what’s next?!

Why am I participating in AIM? Well, I stumbled onto a couple of maintenance bloggers – coincidentally, one was Lynn – before I lost my first pound. What struck me right away was that not only had these women, who were as big as me, lost weight, but they were keeping it off. Bingo – that made me realize that this time, if I truly wanted this to be my last diet, I was going to have to do things differently so that I didn’t regain the weight like I did every other time I dieted. Making changes with the idea that they were going to be on a permanent basis, instead of temporary cutbacks, was the key to my success. While I haven’t kept off every single pound I lost, I’ve managed to keep nearly all of them at bay, and I’ve finally realized that I don’t have to eat my way through life to be happy.

Lori
My name is Lori and I write the blog Finding Radiance . I chose that name because that ended up being what I was striving for. Not a specific goal weight or size, but being happy within.

I had struggled with my weight for most of my life. Lost and gained several people throughout my adult years. LOL! I have done many weight-loss programs and most were successful to a degree, but something was missing since I kept putting the weight back on. That something was really learning to love myself and develop a better relationship with food. Also important was discovering exercises that I love. I turned into quite a biker and love strength training!

My blog talks a lot about food because – quite frankly – I love food. The biggest thing for me was learning to let go of guilt about food or feeling like I only had to eat carrots and cottage cheese in order to lose/maintain my weight.

You also will see a lot of the general things in my life. I often post about whatever is in my head, my latest home improvement projects, and my cat (she is very popular) because as a maintainer, life is more than just the scale – and that is how it should be. I do struggle with maintenance at times, but it really never is a perfect road.

I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of AIM because of the deep respect and admiration I have for these wonderful women. There is definitely a hole in the weight maintenance world. It’s like once you lose weight, you disappear from the blog world. Kind of like the Bermuda Triangle for weight-loss bloggers. That needs to change because there is a ton of support for when you are losing, but not much when you are maintaining, and not much is written about what to expect or how to handle some regain or when you start having body acceptance issues. (What? You mean I won't look like a supermodel once I lose weight?). I look forward to where this journey takes us!

Cammy
I'm Cammy, of The Tippy Toe Diet . I started out trying to lose weight at the “chubby” level and eventually dieted myself to the edge of morbid obesity. I spent years (and years!) cycling through one diet plan after another, but I could never maintain any of them for the long term. The repeated failures battered my self-esteem and part of me wanted to just give it all up, but thankfully, some little spark of hope remained.

In 2007, I adopted a different approach. Instead of trying to follow other people’s diets to achieve other people’s ideals, I spent some time thinking about what comprised my ideal. In doing so, I realized that I didn't really care about being thin or skinny or any of the other media-defined measures of success. What I really wanted was be healthier, more vibrant, and yes, a smaller size. More importantly, I wanted to do it in a way that I could sustain for the rest of my life. And, by golly, I wanted it to be FUN!

Recognizing that the completely-overhaul-your-entire-life-starting-this-Monday approach had never worked for me in the past, I implemented changes in my lifestyle slowly, sometimes in teeny little steps. My blog, The Tippy Toe Diet, chronicles those changes – the ones that worked and the ones that didn’t – and continues to serve as a journal of my new explorations. I might have lost 100 pounds, but no way am I through changing! It’s too much FUN trying new things to stop now!

I'm honored and excited to be an AIM blogger because I admire and respect each and every one of the other bloggers and appreciate their points of view. I’m looking forward to learning from them and to sharing my own thoughts, all in hopes that this scattershot approach might be of service to others who are either in the maintenance realm or striving to get there. Our stories, our paths, and our struggles might be different, but our “aim” is generally the same: a healthier and more vibrant life. At a smaller (or, at least, not a larger) size!

Debby
I’m Debby, from debby weighs in . When I started my blog, the byline was “thoughts on weight loss and life.” Recently, I decided I knew nothing about weight loss, and changed my byline to “on living a whole and healthy life.”

Like most overweight people, I have a LOOOONG history of mostly being overweight, with many forays into attempted weight loss, some more successful than others, but all of them with one trait in common: I gained back all the weight PLUS some. And so, when I was about 30, I decided that I would never diet again. And I didn’t. For a long, long time, until one day in 2005. Shortly after my 50th birthday, a friend asked me to go to Weight Watchers with her. At first I turned her down, and said, “But we can be accountable to each other.” After a miserable two weeks of starving myself, I realized I needed a little help, and agreed to go. But this time was different. This time I knew it had to be for the rest of my life.

This time I had the help and support of many friends. I sought out women at work who just lived a healthy lifestyle, and quizzed them on what they ate. I read everything I could find about maintaining weight loss. I read science journals and the latest research, and when I hit a little snag, I hired a personal trainer, who taught me more about eating healthy whole foods than she did about exercise (and she taught me a LOT about exercise!)

It took about two years to lose 100 pounds, and it was only then that I discovered the world of blogging! There was Lynn , in People magazine, and the little box at the bottom of the page said to check out Lynn’s blog on the internet. A whole new world of friends opened up to me.

Since then, maintenance has definitely been an adventure, and these four women have been constant traveling companions. As everyone eventually does, I had a couple of years that were extra stressful, and I regained 25 pounds. It only took two years for me to figure out how to start losing weight again(!) and that is where I am in my journey now. I never stopped working on living a whole and healthy life. And now I have added “aging gracefully” to that work. Its an adventure, that's for sure!

Lynn
I’m Lynn and I blog at Lynn’s Weigh . When I began this last trek down the scale in 2005, no one but my doctor and I knew what I weighed. Three hundred pounds sounded intangible and scary. But I grew tired of that albatross and so I launched my first website, Lynn's Weight-Loss Journey , complete with numbers and photos, and immediately I felt lighter. My weight was no longer a secret. It was, and still is, what it is: a number. It’s not who I am.

Like my AIM partners, I realized this last time IS the last time because I approached weight loss differently. I finally understood that if I wanted a permanent change in my body, I had to make a permanent change in my attitude. Head before body. And no celebratory Dairy Queen blizzards once I met goal!

On Lynn’s Weigh, I write about life as a nearly 50-year-old mother to four grown children, grandmother to three (almost 4!) grandchildren, writer, foodie, and exerciser, all through the lens of a person maintaining a 150-plus weight loss. There are more than 1 billion websites out there, but our little AIM consortium is just what the ‘net needs.
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