There’s a big misconception when it comes it weight loss. Actually, there are so many but I’m fixated on one today. Many clients, during their sessions say things like “when I’m on maintenance I’ll eat pizza” or “I’m going to keep exercising until I get to my goal weight.” The clients who make these statements are committed to their food plans and sessions; they just see their work as finite. To me, a commitment to wellness shouldn’t be seen any differently from a marriage. Can you imagine, unless you happen to be George Clooney, entering a long-term relationship saying I will love you until 2014? I hope not.
There was an article in the New York Times Magazine written by Tara Parker Pope, right around New Years. It was on the “most emailed” list for days so it was well circulated. The feedback I received was that people found the article, entitled “The Fat Trap” thoroughly depressing. Ms. Pope talks about hormonal and metabolic changes that occur with weight loss making weight loss more difficult the further you go. Also in the article is a profile of woman who goes to great lengths to maintain her results. We’re told that she weighs and measure her food, works out over an hour almost every day and keeps a food journal. I understand why some could be disheartened, it sounds like a lot of work. And yet, maintaining your weight is a lot of work (though weighing and measuring isn’t something I endorse).
The term lifestyle gets tossed around but many still view food modifications as means to an end (or a smaller end). However, there’s no graduation day or finish line with weight or health. There’s only a potential U-turn if you’re not careful. As for postponing treats or certain foods until you’re “done” that’s dieting 101. Learning to treat yourself and go back is one of the most important weight loss skills. Few plan to live their lives without pizza (or other treat) so we may as well learn to have it, perhaps with a side salad, and not feel we’re off to the unhealthy races. Sure, the amount of exercise or food that works may be slightly different when your goal is to maintain your weight than to lose more weight but you still need to budget. II advise my clients that it’s better not to use the word “maintenance” at all, which seems to connote this food Shangri-La, and focus on doing that hard work every day. After a while, it’s not as hard.
Do you think the word “maintenance” is a trap? I have my suspicions but where do you suspect this thinking originated? Did you read “The Fat Trap”?