I'm almost done going through and finding all my weight loss posts and categorizing them into broad categories so that I can maybe, eventually, produce a printable version.
Along the way I'm re-reading some of them, remembering where I was at each stage, and occasionally thinking of interesting updates. (Remember those cookies on my dresser? Guess what? They are STILL THERE.)
One thing I've been trying to figure out is whether there is really anything original or unique about my own approach and philosophy. I know that I have an original and unique personal experience and an original and unique voice, because everyone does, sheesh. But what is there in the meat of what I did and what I write about that is different from all the other gazillion books out there? If not, why bother? (Of course, the other way of looking at it is -- if so many other people can publish and self-publish the same old advice over and over again, why not me? But I digress.)
The part that seems to me like it might not have been done (much) before is the notion that what we really can control is the habit-changing, not the numbers changing. To let go of the numbers and embrace the desirable habits whether they "pay" in numbers or not. Add that to the idea of measuring and celebrating success in habits, not in numbers -- and the idea of adding habits slowly, systematically, and deliberately ---and I'm not sure I've seen that anywhere else.
The closest thing I've seen is in The Beck Diet, which is a cognitive-behavioral therapist's take on it. I am not a cognitive-behavioral therapist, but it seems like a good approach (or at least, it seems similar to mine).
Is there something I'm missing, or does that sound about right?
This occurred to me a couple of weeks ago when a friend who has been changing her habits and who has dropped 20-odd pounds in the last several months posted that she was changing her goals during an upcoming stressful time. She was going to work on maintaining her weight rather than on losing weight during that period of predictable high stress.
It is the sort of thing that years ago I would have said "Great goal!" about, but these days I just don't believe that anymore. I commented that I didn't think maintaining the scale was a "goal." The reason I gave is that it's not directly under your control the way habit is. (Post and comment are here.)
It bugged me and bugged me for a few days because there was something else about the notion of easing up on yourself, and just maintaining weight rather than continuing to lose it, during a stressful time that bugged me. Even though on the surface it sounded perfectly reasonable.
And then this morning I think I figured it out. Here on the other side of weight loss, it's perfectly obvious that "how I lost the weight" and "how I maintain the weight" are THE SAME. There is not a significant difference between my behaviors as a weight-losing person and my behaviors as a weight-maintaining person.
Oh, sure, I must be consuming more calories. (Especially since I am breastfeeding an eight-month-old.) But the habits are not very different. At least, if you compare these three versions of me:
- (A) stable-but-heavy, pre-2008 me;
- (B) 2008, weight-losing me;
- (C) stable-but-normal weight, current me
(Whereas conventional energy-balance wisdom might seem to imply that (A) and (C) would behave similarly, and (B) is the one who would be behaving differently.)
I guess I now believe that maintaining is just as hard, or just as easy, as losing weight. I guess I now believe that you can't really save much effort and stress by changing from "trying to lose" to "trying to maintain." Going back to old habits is not "maintaining" behavior, it's "gaining" behavior.
What you can do to ease up on yourself, to make things less stressful, is to temporarily stop adding new good habits and "maintain" the ones you have.
Like much that I've learned, it's kind of bad news. But it's good news in a way too, I think.