Sunday, January 24, 2010

You are hereby sentenced to healthy living for life!

There is something about maintenance that can seem overwhelming if I think about it too much.  Am I to live a life of nutritionally balanced drudgery?  Must I be conscientious for the rest of my life?  Will I always have to wake up at the crack of dawn to get my workout in?  Why can't I eat breakfast burritos every morning?  What about my beloved 3,000 calorie mega death cheeseburger and fries combinations?

The truth is this:  for me to stay healthy (and thinnish), I have to continue making smart food choices, and I need to exercise most, if not all, days.  Sadly or not, this is simply the way we are supposed to live and the way we are supposed to treat our bodies.  This shouldn't be such a bad thing as I am fully aware of the benefits of taking the healthier path:
  • I feel better physically and mentally when I eat right and don't stuff myself
  • I feel better mentally when I don't pilfer treats in the middle of the night
  • I feel better physically and mentally when I am getting regular exercise.  I can't remember a workout that made me feel worse afterward.  
  • I am improving my odds to live a longer, less sickly life, and hopefully spend as many productive, fun years with my family as is humanly possible.
  • Truthfully, I look better in a fit state than in an obese state.  There.  I said it.  I'm not above a little (no snickering please) vanity.  
So with all of this big pluses, what's the problem?

I'm coming on one year at Lifetime, and I have been in fighting shape now for close to two years.  I've certainly been in better health over the full course of the 10 years I've been with Weight Watchers than I was pre-WW.  I really should have purged myself of dark thoughts by now.  Right?

Not so fast.  I still am tempted by bad, impure food thoughts.  I dream of four pound calzones, stuffed with sausages & onions, drenched with buttery red sauce.  My palms get sweaty when I'm around nuts and cheese.  I have deep seated lust for ice cream.  I fondly reconstruct mental scenarios of my old life, spending every weekend eating mountains of crap (nutritionally speaking) food.

I went to dinner last night with a big crew of friends.  They pretty much all ordered whatever the felt like eating, and I had a nice piece of cod.  Should I have thrown in the towel and succumbed to a massive piece of fatty red meat, basted in blue cheese sauce?

Is there any hope for me?  Am I ultimately doomed?  Can I survive maintenance?  Is it all just too hard?  There are two reasons for me to be optimistic about the future:  1) I'm not really depriving myself and 2) perseverance.

On the point of not depriving:
  • My fish was terrifically tasty and satisfying.  It was a million miles from a hardship.
  • I get plenty to eat.  I'm not really physically hungry much anymore, as I've found lots of ways to get lots of bulk eating in without very many calories.
  • Exercise is no longer a hardship.  It's hard to push yourself while you are in the act, but the after effect is always worth it.  
  • In other words, the feeling of missing the my old life is purely in my head, and the "truth" in missing it is pretty false.  

On the point of perseverance...  I attended a Weight Watchers meeting in Oakland, CA about a month ago that talked about this.  I kind of dreaded the topic as the word "perseverance" sounds like a quality that more disciplined people have, like Ben Hur in the slave galley, rowing away under the whip.  However, the Leader had an interesting way of recasting the concept.  She pointed out that we all have numerous examples in our lives of persevering during challenging times.  One member talked about getting her bachelors degree at night while taking care of her three kids as a single mom.  If she can do that, making the decision to eat fish and vegetables can hardly be that much of a challenge.

The point is, that I too have persevered and rose up to challenges many, many times in my life.  Perseverance isn't a quality that you develop or an asset that you acquire.  It's already there.  We are all much stronger than we realize, presuming we don't let the little, misinformed voices in our head tell us we aren't.  Did I just admit to having voices in my head?  Ugh.  Too much self-disclosure again.

Curious how all of you get the bad voices to cease and desist.

BTW, next week's topic at my Weight Watchers meeting is Physical vs. Emotional Hunger.  It begs the question:  are men emotional eaters?  Stay tuned!




  1. Thank you for this post! I just achieved lifetime yesterday and the process of getting here seems easier than the prospect of staying here forever. The little kid in me wants to rebel against the control of accountability (a lifetime of point counting?....NOOOOOOOoooo!!) and I think my future success will depend on how I manage the rebellion. For now, good food choices are habits and exercise is like brushing my teeth--I just do it; exercise does not have any more emotional content than brushing my teeth. I am grateful for the tools that WW has given me and realllllly grateful that others, like the CEO, have been here before.

  2. I'm less than 10 pounds away from lifetime but I know, the fat girl will always live inside of me. The thin me will persevere, however. I have lost weight too many times and am convinced this will be the last time!

    Thanks for your insight.

  3. It is funny that our ancestors exercised to get their food and now we have to exercise to get rid of the food we eat!

  4. I realize this is totally elementary, but it works wonders. When the desires make their way into my thoughts I just force myself to think about something else.

    And when I dream of pad thai (my version of the "four pound calzones, stuffed with sausages & onions, drenched with buttery red sauce") I eat it. Just a cup of it even when I'd rather eat, you know, 4 cups of it. ;)

    Thankfully, I'm full at the moment after eating loads of broccoli...else I might find myself having new dreams tonight..

  5. I have just finished reading "The End of Overeating" by David Kessler, MD. WOW. It really gets at why after years of healthy eating we STILL crave the junk (sugar, salt & fat). Our brains get rewired! The combo of these three ingredients overtakes our circuitry.
    All the more reason to have a plan, like WW Maintenance, to overcome the years of rewiring and create NEW pathways. It will take time and it's SO worth it!.

    Page, WW Lifetime since 1990, back at goal since August 2009.

  6. Good to know I'm not the only one who daydreams about the "good old days" of eating. I'm less than 10lbs away from maintenance and I have similar panic attacks of "am I really going to do this for the rest of my life?!?!" I'm only in my mid-20s, so that seems like a really long time. But I try to just focus on one week, or day, or meal at a time and then it seems much easier. And I know that if I really really want something, I can eat it, count it, and move on with my life.

  7. Been maintaining a 110 lb loss for about a year now, and the way I get through is knowing that I CAN indulge the way I used to, just not very often. With the way that I normally eat, and the sheer amount of calorie burn I get training for races, indulgences are OK. Sure, I could have put something healthier in my body that the birthday cake I just ate, but it balances out with the healthy breakfast and salad and soup I had for lunch.

  8. I just got my first food delivery from Diets To Go and am hopeful. Sigh.

  9. Thank you. That's all. A big, strong hearty THANKS for your post.

  10. Great post, and I'll be reading it again from time to time for reinforcement. I just gotta say, though, that you have to love a guy who uses a picture from "Ben-Hur" (my favorite movie of all time) to illustrate a point in the post!

  11. I started reading your blogs around Thanksgiving and it seems each one really hits home. Thanks for making me feel like I am not the only one feeling these things.

  12. Thanks for sharing - even over-sharing! LOL. I do think those wrong-choice inner voices will always be with us: we who overeat are naturally drawn towards drowning our stress or sadness in food, or just overindulging. I quit cigarettes 20+ years ago and still hear the call sometimes, though it's far fainter than the call of unhealthy food, 'cos I don't HAVE to smoke daily whereas I have to EAT daily and unhealthy choices surround me. UGH. That's why attending meetings is so key to success. You need that in-person interaction & sharing to kick your butt continually!

  13. This post really hit home. I am coming upon 4 years as a member, and in August, I will have been Lifetime (and @ goal) for 4 years.
    But I often struggle and have many of the thoughts and ups and downs you mentioned.
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. This was a great post! I'm 8 months into lifetime and this is HARD! Honestly, it WAS easier to focus on losing, I know how to live like that:) As CEO, can you put a bug in someone's ear that maybe meetings for lifetimers could be helpful? In regular meetings it's all about losing losing losing and not much information for someone trying to maintain. Just a suggestion:) Thank you for this blog, it's nice to read about someone going through the same things.