So here is my honest confession to the Blog-world about my "maintenance" since March 30 (I just checked my weight log and it showed that I reached 170.8 on 30 March... so the situation is worse than I originally thought....)
When I reached 170 lbs, something clicked inside me. I felt that I arrived. I knew that my original target was 150, but as soon as the much maligned BMI chart turned green on my tracker, showing that I'm considered normal when it comes to my bodyweight, I gave up on losing. Gave up without a conscientious decision to give up. It just happened. I didn't start to gain. I'm at the same weight ever since apart from minor changes depending on how much water I'm holding at the time of the month. It does feel easy. I eat anything and everything. I bake. I make ice cream. I cook Mexican dinners. And I eat them too. I buy the occasional doughnut from Krispy Kreme. And I become a card carrying member of the Chocolat Tasting Club (not kidding). Yesterday I ate a whole tub of Haagen Dazs... (spank me - I was bad).
I'm still at 170. Nearly 6 months. My exercise level fall somewhat (as opposed to Jan-Feb this year), but I'm a gym member again and I started doing 10k training. I do Zumba once a week and I'm immersing myself in my yoga practice occasionally. I did a 5 day yoga retreat in August. I probably exercise 2-3 hours a week. I meditate a lot (not like that helps losing weight... it helps me stay sane.) On the other hand, I do measure my food every time I eat. And I log my food every day on MFP. These are now habits. They used to be activities I HAD to do, now these are habits I'm doing without thinking. More on this later.
So, is this maintenance? I believe so. I could go on living my life like this for ever (well, for a long time).
My new doc told me my weight loss chart shows the poster-girl curve for lap band surgery (oh yesssss, I presented all my charts, logs, reports, comparison pictures, etc. at my first appointment with him. I believe I impressed him. Or he just put me in the "loony" pile straight away... I'm not sure.).
Now all this sounds good and well. That number (150) still bugs me. Can I do it? Could I do it? Should I do it? Would I do it? All these questions................................ What's the real answer?
That I am totally happy with my size right now?
That I feel sexy for D and he tells me how beautiful I am every singe day?
That I fit into all those dresses I couldn't dream of a year ago?
That I now buy size 12(UK) clothes, which is below the average UK size for women?
That at my new workplace no-one can imagine me 65lbs bigger? They think I'm "normal size" - full stop. No questions asked.
That I'm extremely happy that I can get away with bad food choices occasionally because I know I can "atone" for them in a day or two? Or just run like a maniac on the treadmill until I work off whatever I ate?
That I look into the mirror and I don't know how the f**k did I get so awesome? (that's from Pinterest, my dearests - I printed and posted it on the fridge. I love it!)
But all the above still leaves my wondering: can I be 150? Ever? CAN I DO IT? I would like to try. It's not like I haven't been bothered about the fact that I haven't lost a pound since March. Because I have been. Every Saturday morning I step on the scale and I hoping for 160something... Hasn't happened yet. And I think "bummer", but that's it. My train of thought stops there, because I'm content with 170.
And the reason for this is that I lost something important - I do not have the drive any more. I do not have the CRAVING for losing more (for the reasons listed above). I do know what I would need to do and how could I (possibly) lose some more weight if I really wanted to. But "really wanting" something requires a craving for that thing. Getting from 235lbs to 170 and size 20 to 12 satisfied my craving. From that point of view 150 is just a random number, picked out of thin air when I had no understanding of what it means or how would I feel when I get there.
Well, that's not exactly true... I did have some vague idea about how I'd like to feel and look - but I've achieved those at 170. So what extra benefits does 150 hold? Why shall I push so hard to achieve it?
Example no1: I walk into Tesco to get something for dinner (healthy and tasty cooking I still do). The scent of freshly baked maple and pecan plait is wafting towards me from the bakery section. My "old" reaction: oh, let's get one! My "WLS" reaction: it smells great, but we are focused on losing. My "new" reaction: well, you are 170 and happy with it, so why not - let's get one.
Example no2: Haagen Dazs Praline&Cream is the devil's food - if I get one, I will eat the whole tub in a very short time. A tub is 430ml here in the UK. I can easily eat a tub in one sitting. "Old" reaction: well, there was none and I just bought the stuff whenever I wanted to. "WLS" reaction: I avoided even thinking about it because seeing a loss every week on the scale was my main driving force; and I was successful for well over 10 months not having any at all what so ever. "New" reaction: "and what if you eat it? You can work it down" - but I only buy it if it's on sale; then I proceed to eat it within 3 days...
Enter the book I'm reading right now: The Power of Habit from Charles Duhigg.
It gave me an interesting insight into what I've lost and why have I've given up on my fantastically effective eating and exercising WLS habits since March (they are fantastically effective, as they made me lose 65 lbs in total).
I lost the CRAVING.
Yep. Apparently, it is now proven scientifically that for a habit to stay and be used by the individual it has to have a trigger, a routine and a reward - and the reward must be craved by the individual. You can teach yourself new habits - the trinity of habits (trigger-routine-reward) are applicable still. However, they only stick with you as long as you CRAVE the reward. This actually involves some deep thinking and serious de-tangling of what are our triggers and rewards - the routine is apparently the easiest to change. But if you do not crave the reward, you're not going to stick with the habit.
So there it was plain and simple: as I know most of my triggers (even you can identify them if you read through my old posts: they are fairly obvious and come during shopping or sitting at home bored) and the rewards (not that clear, as they include general terms like "feeling accomplished and satisfied" and "having a rush of well being"). But pre-March these rewards were connected with seeing a lower number each week on the scale and fitting into smaller and smaller clothes. And I genuinely, really, deeply wanted those. Now the rewards are connected with feeling content, accomplished (still) and feeling the elation (due to sugar rush) within. Seeing a lower number on the scale ceased to be important.
So my task is generating a genuine craving for losing more weight. But how can you do that when you already feel ok?
I think this is where my earlier fears about being 150 rear their ugly heads: I've been 170 before (when I was 14-18) so this is still "charted territory" I'm familiar with. However, I haven't been 150 since puberty - and before that doesn't count in this game. It is "uncharted territory". I don't know what to expect. I don't know how I will feel. I don't know how hard it might be to stay there (when I get there). I do not know anything about it. So how can I want it? How can you want something you don't have a picture of in your mind?
The only way I can see is "fake it until you make it": I just have to condition myself and make myself crave seeing 150 on the scale for whatever clever reason I can come up with. And that's what I'm going to do.
Yesterday I announced to D that we are doing a big weight loss push until Christmas (I do not want to sacrifice completely our Christmas eating traditions) and then another one until we go on holiday in February. (To Mauritius- yippeee!!!!)
So, it is Discipline, Discipline and more Discipline from now on. Cold turkey on pecan plaits and Haagen Dazs. Focussing on protein again. Eating Atkins bars for treats. And Just The Cheese. Getting on with my 10k program more seriously.
And who knows, if I manage to get nearer 150 by February, I might go on that holiday without contraception... What a lovely story to tell your kid the she was conceived in a 5* hotel in Mauritius...