Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lifetime: Now, The Tough Part

I'm not much for Signs from Heaven except, of course, when there are so abundantly OBVIOUS even Mr. Spock would put aside logic and raise his hands and say "D'uh!"

It's Dec. 10, one year to the day from when the picture below (left, if you have any doubts) was snapped. It remains my official bio pic at Wired and though I would love to swap it out for obvious reasons I'm not really working very hard to get that done. It's a good reminder of where I was, and what a difference a year can make.

This is also, as fate would have it, the first day that I weighed in as a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers, which I joined on Feb. 19 — 80.6 pounds ago. Completing the trilogy (every good sign is comprised of a trilogy, silly) is the fact that my number was 155: my goal weight, to the ounce.

It's a good sign.

My six-week maintenance was a bit of a parabola but I began and ended it within (below, actually) the requisite two-pound leeway which will grant me lifetime membership perks, including free meetings and free access to online tools and the WW app.

To maintain membership in good standing I have to weigh in once each calendar month -- 12 times a year, instead of the 52 when you are losing — and I will never pay Weight Watchers one penny ever again. If I'm more than 157 pounds at an official weigh-in (which is the first one you show up for in a calendar month) then I pay a weekly fee to maintain my membership.

It should be easier to keep at this level, and in short order it will be. But there is something about applying the breaks — and being able to give oneself more breaks, since I will have to eat more than I have been for months to stop losing — that can be as tough to learn and internalize as developing the habit to drop pounds. It could actually be tougher: This is why there are always many more people who have lost all the weight they wanted to than those who have maintained that loss.

Some people find it difficult even to lose a few pounds but among that group whom the TV weight loss ads describe as having lost atypical (but correct) amounts of weight the head-to-the-ground pursuit of losing weight is easier to sustain than a lifetime of keeping the weight off. When we ease up even a little, in all aspects of our lives, the floodgates can suddenly fly open, there being fewer hard-and-fast rules we can blindly follow and the taste of freedoms being so sweet.

So I know I am still battling the percentages, and as good as I should feel about reaching this milestone it's really just a new level, filled with new and potentially tougher challenges. "Lifetime" is like the transition to adulthood: It requires the exercise of responsibility children often can't handle (many adults, too). Forbid an obedient child from having any candy and she won't. Tell her to have some candy, but not too much and, well ... you get the idea.

That's why now comes the tough part. Or why, at least, I am telling myself that it is the tough part. Because I need to replace the rigid approach that served me well with something that will remind me that even though I have more freedom I still have work to do. Lots of it. For the rest of my life.

Of course, there will be pie.


scv said...

John - thanks for taking the time to tell your story. I was intrigued after reading your @wired "80 lbs" tweet, read your site, and had a wake-up call when I saw that your starting weight is my current weight.

Today is my first day of Weight Watchers.

I hope I have a similar story to tell soon.

John Abell said...

@SCV Congratulations! I wish you the very, very best.