I feel like I am standing at the edge of a cliff.
Every month, after I weigh in at Weight Watchers I struggle with this feeling. As a Lifetime Member, I have to weigh in once each calendar month within my goal range (my goal weight is 148 lbs and you are allowed 2 lbs above that, so I have to weigh in each month below 150 lbs). I weighed in at 149 lbs the first week of December. I then proceeded to throw myself off the cliff into an oblivion of holiday eating and indulgence. Ok, it wasn't that extreme, but my willpower was significantly reduced. For a few weeks I ate with less restraint, made some poor choices, and gained until the scales reached 155 lbs in the beginning of January. I then spent the rest of the month clawing my way back up the mountain, eating properly and exercising. I was back to my goal weight at weigh-in Jan 31 (148.8 lbs) and proceeded to stay on track so I could complete my February weigh-in. Last night I weighed in at 147.2 lbs (down 1.6 lbs from last week) and I feel great. But now I'm standing on that cliff again. I know that the next time I HAVE to weigh-in is March. I also know that I am heading to Banff to attend a conference next week (where there will be plenty of food/alcohol) and I won't be able to weigh-in next Tuesday. I also know that I am really good at Achieving my Goals - as long as I don't let things get too out of hand, I can hike my way up the mountain, back to goal weight when I need to.
I am less good at Achieving Equilibrium. So far, since reaching my goal weight one year ago this has been my version of maintenance. It is also my version of yo-yo dieting. In my defense, there has been a lot of life events that made it easy to gain weight: trips to Mexico, Hawaii, San Francisco, New York (yes, I have been very spoiled the last couple of years with travel - it is one of the big perks of my job), writing my thesis, defending my thesis. But that's true for life in general. There is always an excuse; there is always an event. I need to find a better balance. My other excuse is that it doesn't take much for me to gain weight. A couple days of not tracking, a couple bigger meals and the scale will go up. Even if I simply eat all my points for a few days in a row (which in theory is what I should be eating to lose weight), the scale goes up. I have to be pretty strict with myself to lose or maintain, and sometimes that gets really tiring.
I am good at losing weight. I am good at gaining weight. I am BAD at maintenance.
So where to go from here? Do I jump off once again and embrace the freedom for a couple weeks? Or do I try (for the first time!) to maintain despite my upcoming travel and not having to weigh-in for a few weeks?
I think part of the problem is that I have two totally different mindsets depending on whether I'm losing weight or not. When I'm losing, I take pleasure in choosing healthy foods that satisfy me. I don't feel deprived, I feel a sense of accomplishment from making healthy choices. I like how I feel, inside and out. But then as soon as I don't have to lose weight I feel trapped by this lifestyle. I want to eat! I don't want to think about making healthy choices, I just want to be normal.
I need to find a way to adopt the first mindset all the time, or at least merge the two. I know I will never be able to eat how I used to ever again. I will always have to think about it. This fact really depresses me. But if I can accept it and adopt a new "normal" I will benefit long-term. I'm going to try it. I'm going to stay in my "losing" mindset where I want to be healthy, but allow myself small treats. This will be my attempt at true balance. I am tired of my weight going up and down. I need to get out of this cycle.
One more thing that I think will really help me is not just weighing in once a month, but doing it every week. I need to be accountable to myself more than once a month. I think that's part of my problem - I see maintenance as a goal to hit each month rather than the status quo. And, as I said, I'm very goal-oriented, so although I always hit the goal, it's not a healthy mind-set to be in. From now on, I will try to weigh-in every week at WW, not just once a month. The problem is the weeks I can't (because I'm out of town) I will be without access to a scale, so I can't just post the number on here for accountability. But I will still know I have to get on the scale as soon as I'm back, so I won't let the freedom go to my head (or hips).
Wow...real maintenance. This will be a new thing for me! I'm a little sad (no more freedom) but I think it's for the best. Now the key for me will be to focus on all the things I CAN eat rather than those I can't! I will use this blog to explore my feelings and figure things out as I enter this new phase of my journey. I am going to learn to resist my all-or-nothing tendencies and not dive off the cliff. Or, at the very least, I will strap on a parachute.