It isn’t unusual to find posts on Facebook by those of us who’ve lost weight and gotten fit that celebrate how great we look and feel – and it’s a good thing to acknowledge and celebrate reaching goals that we’ve set for ourselves.
However, most of these posts are made by people who have recently reached those goals. And by “recently” I mean within the last five years or so. And, while five years is a long time (heck keeping it off for a year is a great accomplishment) – we all know that too many of us end up gaining the weight back. And most of us do that within the first five years.
There are tons of studies and articles out there that provide us with reliable information based on research that meets scientific standards as to physiological reasons why it is difficult to sustain a healthy weight after losing weight. All kinds of hormonal things are going on and let’s not forget the fact that our fat cells don’t disappear after losing weight. They’re still hanging out ready and able to do their thing.
It’s important to pay attention to this research – that way we can act accordingly.
But over the last 30 years I learned a few things about how to sustain acting in ways that support attaining and sustaining healthy weight and fitness – and the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that not only does following a plan that includes eating healthy foods in moderate amounts and making sure you get that activity in – you’re almost sure to gain it all back if you don’t incorporate your principles and values into that plan.
Case in point
I just read a post (a quite courageous post I might add) where a male blogger shares that, after losing over 150 pounds he feels “incredible” and his confidence level “is through the roof.” Not only that, women are coming on to him “a lot.”
Sounds great! Good for him. I know from personal experience what a confidence booster it is to have the opposite sex show some interest in my after I lost weight.
But some issues can arise when we suddenly find ourselves somewhere we may have never or seldom been. The issue that came up for our blogger is that he’s been engaging in casual sex and is even concerned he may be in danger of developing a “sex addiction.” He thinks maybe he’s trying to make up for lost time after having been rejected so many times when he was heavy.
Now, I have no way of knowing if that’s actually the case – but what I do suspect is that having casual sex goes against this man’s principles and values. And that places him in the Danger Zone for gaining it all back.
When our behavior after attaining a healthy weight goes against or does not support the principles or values that are meaningful to us it can seem that we can’t live principled lives that express our values and sustain a healthy weight at the same time. But since not all of us are going to have issues around engaging in casual sex – let’s look at another scenario, one from my personal experience.
I was a young, single mother when I got my show on the road and reached a healthy weight. One thing I didn’t do when I was heavy was go out on the town with my friends. Who wants to go dancing knowing you’re just going to be the “fat one” sitting there by yourself while all your skinny friends are out there having a good time? And I felt uncomfortable going out after work for dinner with the girls on a Friday night as (once again) I’d be the “fat one” at the table.
Of course those feelings changed once I’d lost the weight. Not only that, I actually got invited out on dates. Now it was fun to go out – so I did.
My meaningful why for attaining a healthy weight at the time had been focused on being a better parent to my son. Sure going out got in the way of getting out for my run and lifting those weights but that wasn’t the real issue for me – I feeling uncomfortable spending so much time away from my son – which often led to a binge. And, yes, going out often got in the way of getting out for my run and lifting those weights.
Now – there’s certainly nothing wrong with a young single Mom going out and having some fun with her friends. That wasn’t the problem. But instead of listening to that little voice in my head telling me “You don’t really want to go out – you want to play Chutes and Ladders with your son” similar to our blogger I got caught up in “making up for lost time.” Why? Probably because I was afraid it wouldn’t last. I’d lost weight before and gained it back. And if I didn’t say yes and go out with my friends or on that date maybe people would stop asking…
But then one day my girlfriend called and wanted to go out. I’d been planning on popcorn and watching my son’s favorite TV show with him that night. My knee-jerk response was to say yes I’d go, but I knew I really didn’t want to – so I did something different, I said no. That night I made a deal with myself: If I felt like going out with my friends I would. If I’d rather stay home and spend time with my son I’d do that instead.
The solution was simple. I simply needed to live by what I valued. I valued time with my son. Sure – I valued spending time with my friends – but I valued living with integrity more. The end result was striking a balance – a balance that was heavily weighted towards my children. Of course as time went on and my children grew older things changed.
And that’s the whole point – our meaningful whys change over time. The trick is making sure that your meaningful why resonates with how you can live with integrity by sticking to what you value today.