This is a joint blog by Steve and Sprog, two Nutracheck members who have lost a lot of weight and who are now maintaining. We both got down to weights we were happy with, but found that that was when it got more difficult! We think that maintaining is tough, and we have both had some worrying times recently, when our weights increased and didn’t show much sign of going down again. So we thought we would have a ‘virtual chat’ about our recent weight-wobbling experiences, and we hope you find it interesting – especially if you are on this difficult maintenance road! Our chat started with how we knew things were going off course…
SPROG: I have been bobbling around the top of my ‘safe range’ (and sometimes over it) for nearly three months. Before Christmas I wanted to get down to the bottom of my range, to give myself a little leeway for Christmas, but I didn’t manage to do it.
STEVE: So you came out of the Christmas period heavier than you went in?
SPROG: Yes. I did then manage to lose some, but I still need to lose more and my weight hasn’t shifted in the last two weeks. So what happened to you?
STEVE: Before going away for Christmas I did manage to get down to the bottom of my range and, as expected, I did put on a few pounds. After time away I usually lose those extra pounds quite quickly after getting home. But this time I didn’t lose them – in fact after losing just a little, and then wobbling about a bit, my weight started to gradually go up again.
SPROG: We were similar – both of us couldn’t get to the weight we thought was OK. We each had a ‘slip’, with the risk that it will turn into a ‘slide’, so it’s important to know why the slip started!
STEVE: I didn’t really know at the time but, looking back on it I think I was having the dreaded ‘diet creep’. That’s where I thought I was doing the same ‘recovery after time away’ eating and drinking as I have ever since starting maintenance, but in fact my calorie intake had been drifting upwards for quite some time.
SPROG: Similar for me I think. I certainly find that more and more sugar is returning to my diet, which may mean that I crave it more and more – and that upsets everything. Even on maintenance there are not enough calories for lots of sugar! Maybe I have become used to the benefits of losing weight and those benefits are not as motivating as they once were. Or maybe I have just become over-confident (though I don’t feel confident). Whatever the underlying reasons, you could say that ‘diet creep’ covers it pretty well for both of us! Did you really think your slip was turning into a slide?
STEVE: I was definitely worried about it. I weigh myself every day but, because weight often varies from day-to-day, I take more notice of my average weight for the previous two weeks, and how the average goes up and down. By the middle of January that average was four pounds higher than not so long ago, and it was on the way up. And that’s despite reducing alcohol considerably and increasing my exercise. How about you?
SPROG: After Christmas I reached three pounds above the top of my safe range. I brought it back to the safe range quite quickly – but I still have another four to go to get to the bottom of the safe range, and it is those pounds which are refusing to budge. I suppose that neither of us really let things get very bad though – did you ever think it would be OK just not to worry too much, because things would sort themselves out?
STEVE: I thought like that countless times in my forty-odd years of being fat, things never did sort themselves out, and I ended up on a massive slide, which took me all the way down the mountain, ending up in Flab Valley below! This time it has to be different.
SPROG: I knew that really. I was just testing! What did you try to stop the slide happening?
STEVE: I mentioned earlier that I had already reduced alcohol and increased my exercise, but that had not worked. I therefore went back to basics – I went back to eating and drinking in the same way that I had when losing all my weight, and I supported that approach by filling in my Nutracheck diary, which I had stopped doing more than two years before.
SPROG: I fill in my diary every day anyway, and I know we are both daily weighers, but I also resumed my activities on the Nutracheck forums (having had some months ‘off’), and joined the January Challenge. I acknowledged my situation on the forums, and received fantastic support. And finally, as you know, you and I provided mutual support via the forums, private messaging and email. So the million dollar question is: did our approaches work?
STEVE: For me, in a word – yes. But it was quite drastic – I had forgotten how severe my 20 months of weight loss had been! I cut out ‘healthy’ things that I have added to my diet since I started to maintain – things such as salmon, nuts, seeds, yoghurt and sweet potato. I also, with the help of the diary, reined in my portions. And, of course, being much smaller than I used to be, my calorie intake had to be that much lower to lose significant weight. And how about you?
SPROG: My approach worked to some extent. I am back into my safe range, but I haven’t got down to the lower end of it. This is proving peculiarly difficult but – unlike in previous diets – I have never thought about stopping trying. What we have in common is that we have buckled down to doing things differently, before it’s too late. But the things we are doing differently are not the same – your approach is more direct and food-related than mine, which concentrates on motivation and other people-based skills.
STEVE: It is true that my recent changes were more brutal than yours, and that might be why my weight has come under control more quickly. But it could well be that my brutal approach will not work as well in the years to come, because my body will get used to the ‘trick’. While your approach will stand you in good stead forever. Where are things up right now?
SPROG: I am now losing at a rate of about half a pound a week but I am frustrated at the pace, which is slower than when I was losing weight in the first place. The real problem, which I mentioned near the start, is the days when I eat a lot of sweet things, such as biscuits and chocolate – no diet can accommodate too much of that. This is happening too often and I think this is what most needs to change. I also intend to get reacquainted with Judith Beck’s ideas about motivation – I was a real disciple when I started my NC journey, and her ideas helped me very much. I think the time has come to get Beck to Basics (sorry!)
STEVE: My brutal approach certainly stopped the slide. In fact, I have got back into my old Nutracheck routine so enthusiastically that I have over-compensated! Three weeks after the panic, I am seeing some weighings that are lower than anything I have seen for 40 years, and I have reduced that average of the previous two weeks by nearly six pounds. I have to say, though, that generally I am dead against quick-fix approaches, and this one certainly is.
SPROG: I have one last thought: assuming we both arrive back at where we want to be in the near future, do you think you are going to have more slips at some time?
SPROG: Why wouldn’t we?
STEVE: Tricky one. At least I like to think that we will have acquired little bits of experience so that we can stop those slips becoming slides.
SPROG: I agree; I think that something I have acquired that continues to be useful is to take even small slips very seriously, and try to deal with them immediately. One of your earlier blogs used the term ‘constant vigilance’ and having that in mind has helped me to catch the slips so far (and, with any luck, in the future too). Thanks!
SPROG and STEVE: We have both enjoyed writing this joint blog very much. If our readers have got this far, thanks for reading, and we hope our Wobbleblog was of some use to you!