Sunday, April 4, 2010

Is a Speedo like a corset? Can it keep me from eating? Man, fear, swimsuit and maintenance.

Conversation from my head yesterday:

"Eeeeeks.  I need to put on a swimsuit!  In the past few weeks' blitz of travel, work and general mayhem, I had almost forgotten that I'm going on vacation in a week.  It's going to be hot (90 degrees), sunny, and in the general vicinity of salt water.  That means a swim suit.  Crap.  What if I look horrendously bad?  Reason for panic?  Is there anything I could do about it with a week's notice?  OK, let's get on the scale and survey the damage.  Phew.  I'm still at goal weight."

It's hard to rock this look, even at goal weight...
(BTW, no, I don't wear a Speedo, but you get the point)

OK, the above internal dialogue is interesting to me on two dimensions.

One:  that I even care.  What happened to me?  Why do I care what I look like in a swim suit?

The answer is that I always cared.  I just didn't like to talk or think about it.  I suspect on some level most guys care what they look like on the beach.  It's just not cool to talk about it.  [I, seemingly, have given up on trying to keep up the appearances of being cool, so I do talk about it now.]  It's a little bit of a vulnerable feeling to know that you can grab handfuls of adipose while barreling toward the ocean.  I used to spend a lot of time trying to push my diaphragm through my back to disguise that which cannot be hidden.

I used to think that an extraordinarily nice perk of getting to goal weight would be not having to sweat this as much.  But did it?

This leads to Two:  fear of failure spotlighted by a beach vacation can be a powerfully motivating force.

In fact, I knew that I had a beach trip coming up for Spring break.  I thought about it a lot during the first few months of the year.  It was always in the back of my mind when I would start each work week on Monday.  I thought about it when I was traveling last week and was being tempted by hotel breakfast buffets of carb-ridden pastry delights.  I thought about it when I was debating whether to subject myself to another 4:45 AM wake-up call for my 95th consecutive workout.

I actually use these milestones on the calendar to help keep me focused during the year.  It's easier for me to think about goals if there is something 2-3 months out that offers the promise of a reward (or avoidance of the opposite:  failure).  After this vacation, I will use the threat of warm weather, shorts, t-shirts, lighter clothes, etc. to keep me honest.  I will think about going to the pool this summer and not looking like the President of Weight Watchers who couldn't keep his lifestyle together.

For me, thinking about this kind of ridiculous vain stuff is a powerfully motivating way of staying on maintenance.  Maintenance is just different than losing weight.  When you are losing weight, you are in the heat of pitched battle, thinking about the weigh-in each week.  Maintenance by contrast is a long, unending process that definitionally doesn't have any of the epic moments of the weight loss process (10%!!!  Goal weight!!! Lifetime!!!).  Therefore, I try to create my own little made-up epic moments.  "I will look awesome on the beach!"

It's all a little sad and un-masculine, but it works for me.

I think the broader point is that setting manageable goals is always a good strategy.  It's a good strategy when losing weight:  don't worry about getting to goal, focus on losing the first 5%.  It's also a good strategy for maintenance:  don't worry about being at goal until the last day of my life.  Think about standing on the beach in two months.

As a side note, I did myself no favors yesterday on the whole beach-preparedness project.  We watched my beloved Blue Devils play West Virginia in the Tournament last night (and crush them I might add).  We supported the cause by diving into pork BBQ, slaw, mac & cheese and cornbread -- true North Carolina style fanship provisions.  And today is Easter Sunday, hardly a light eating day.  All of this just means more focus for the upcoming week because on Saturday morning I get on a plane for my own little epic Tournament:  the beach.




  1. Your thoughts on maintenance are ALWAYS so completely on the mark. I have been at goal for 10 years, and doing the maintenance thing is such a crazy mind-game, isn't it? Those "little epic made-up moments" you refer to? My life revolves around those!

    I want to personally thank you for bringing maintenance to the forefront, b/c I really think when you took the helm at WW, I finally got a grip on my struggle with keeping my weight off for good. The filling foods concept was like a magic wand for me. Wow! I can actually do this for the rest of my life!

    Have a great time on vacation! I am sure you will look great in that speedo! ;-) And congrats on your Blue Devils going to the final. Unfortunately, the road has ended for my beloved Spartans. *sigh*

  2. Please keep your thoughts coming about MAINTENANCE and how even you, the CEO struggle with it with so many obligations you have. It's an inspiration to people like me who are struggling to get back to lifetime goal. Thank you for your continued encouragements

  3. I wish I could afford a vacation :(

  4. I treat it like the competitive game that life is. From the latest issue of "Medicine at Michigan" and the article "Our Fight With Fat": “I believe we need to be studying thin people,” Burant says. “If you think about it, they’re the abnormal ones now, and they may be the key to understanding the biology of weight control.”

  5. Maintenance is definitely a different animal. It's still a sometimes a struggle to accept the fact that I can never go back to the way I used to eat.

  6. David - Again well said, I have sent your blog address to all of the male Weight Watchers members I know...and they all love it.

    The whole maintaining thing is yet, another mind game - requiring goal setting on a regular basis.

    I don't kid my members, it is never OVER, but we all hope to develop better habits that will help us keep it under the wire "forever".

    Cheers from Utopia, Ontario!


  7. Great entry today, Dave! I'll also be sure to direct my male members here! (Though it's great for women, too!)

    Can't believe how much drama your choice of photo (Borat! LOL!) caused on facebook! I think it's hilarious!

    Thanks for the inspiration!


  8. Thank you for your inspiration!!
    I didn't have good news tonight at weigh-in and I am at goal, but I am PUSHING IT!...Please continue with more maintenance support. Sometimes, it feels like the the ppl who made goal are forgotten, but we still need help everyday :)
    Keep up the good work, I really look forward to everything you write.

  9. It's great to hear that even you think this way. :) To be honest, the closer I get to my goal, the less I am motivated by vanity. I mean, what's 10 lbs, right? Until it's 25. And then 50. But when it's the difference of fitting into size 6s and size 8s - I just find it hard to care so much.

    What does keep me motivated is racing - even if the long ones tend to have me gain a little during the end of training, I'm still chasing the pursuit of fitness in a way that's fulfilling to me.

  10. this is program has been great for me after losing 165lbs started in 2002. 2006 became lifetime its the tracking, the exercising, the support, al the above. and you can have whatever you in moderation an maintaining,that is what keeps me going.


  11. I liked your blog until you gloated about my crushed Mountaineers...

  12. your comments may be helpful but I find the picture posted repulsive and not worthy of a major entity like weight watchers. elaine merritt

  13. Have you read the comments on FaceBook about your chosen photo? Your blog is fine, even inspiring. But that photo is a bit discusting. Read the responses where you posted it on Weight Watcher's Facebook page. The majority want it removed.... Please?

  14. Ditto the above.This doesn't seem like legitimate Weight Watchers at all. I'm a LT member and very disappointed. Why is there no WW logo on your page? And do read the FB comments. Most are very negative against your posting.

  15. Just saw all the torrential storms over the Borat picture that popped up on Facebook. When I chose the photo, I was only thinking about the blog, not about how it would look when posted on FB. I can see how the picture of a man in a horrible swim suit was taken out of context (and alarming to see on a FB page). The point about men feeling uncomfortable in swim suits was obviously lost w/o the surrounding story.

    Personally, I found Borat to be a ridiculously funny movie, but if you haven't seen it (or maybe if you have), the image might not be your cup of tea. I've replaced the photo with something less controversial.



  16. LOVE your blog entries and happy you replaced the photo!Keep up the great work on program and blog:)

  17. Well I LOVED the original posting and Borat. Your blog clearly states this is YOUR own personal opinion. Dont start filtering your messages. Love your blog and my WW men loved it too. :)

  18. Oh come on folks...lighten up.'s the thing...I think you have some damn good reasons to feel good about how you look, but I'm thankful that the speedo will not be part of your attire. It's just wrong..ha

    Have fun on the beach! :)

  19. Can I ask why does WW use HIgh Fructose Corn syrup in their products? Its so bad and adds to the obesity crisis. I would love to hear your thoughts on artificial stuff.