I would argue that caring for your body in traditional ways- like eating a healthy diet, exercising, and taking your vitamins- may be the least important part of your health. (I know! Radical idea coming from a doctor!)
This may sound shocking to you. After all, you’ve probably watched many other doctors get on television to tell you that your health is all about using food as medicine, getting enough exercise, and avoiding bad habits. I’m not suggesting that those aren’t great health-inducing behaviors. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter how great your diet is if your body is flooded with stress hormones! No amount of kale is going to counterbalance the toxic effects of high levels of cortisol and epinephrine on your body.
So what’s the most important part of your health? The nature of your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. When your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings are positive, relaxation responses are activated, healing hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, nitric oxide, and endorphins are released, and the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms are activated, allowing the body to do what it does best-heal itself.
- Lissa Rankin, M.D
Excerpt via Psych Central
“Families bring up powerful feelings and interpersonal dynamics. It’s inevitable that old family dynamics are stirred up around the dinner table and that’s what makes the holidays so difficult, our past is present … AGAIN. Sometimes the bullies of our childhood were not kids on the playground but our siblings, parents, and extended family members.
As a child, you may have felt unable to find allies and keep yourself safe. Perhaps no matter how often you told your parents that your older sibling was being mean, it was dismissed. Or what if you were told to, “Turn the other cheek, it’s your brother/sister. They don’t mean it.” Worse, what if your parent was the aggressor?
Fast forward to 2012 and you find yourself at the dinner table. You and your aggressor get into a disagreement. Suddenly you are transported back 10, 20, or 30 years! You feel attacked, taunted and suddenly ganged up on . You feel same anger, fear and perhaps rage as you did when you were young. How do you protect yourself now?
Soooo… You hit your goal weight. Yay, right? Flowers and puppies and all that?
Well for some, yes. Flowered puppies. But maintenance is a whole different beast than weightloss. It should be happy times, but not for everyone. Good stuff: maintenance means a bit more freedom. Weightloss requires a deficit whereas maintenance is all about monitoring, eating the right amounts (which is MORE by the way) and means you can ease up on the training a smidge, unless you’re reaching for fitness goals instead.
But for many people, especially those who have worked their butts off (literally), maintenance can be just as or MORE stressful because of FEAR. The fear of regaining and subsequently ‘wasting’ all that effort can be paralyzing. So instead of enjoying all the rewards and all the glory… you’re just stressed and paranoid. No fun.
Well there’s a few things you should know.
1. No effort is wasted. What you’ve learned and how you’ve transformed your body is awesome. You’re not ‘that person’ anymore and you know how to take care of a few extra pounds if you need to. The fitter you are, the easier weight comes off and is maintained. Don’t worry about going back. You can’t. Don’t let past efforts define you. Learn from them.
2. Our bodies have a sweet spot when it comes to our best weight. For more people, it’s 5-10lbs up OR down. When you gain within this zone, it’s normal and not a cause to worry. Simply do the things you already KNOW how to do and give yourself permission to chill in this zone. When to worry? When you’ve jumped outside of this zone or when your clothes start to feel too tight. Take it easy, eat well and throw in an extra workout or two for a few weeks. You’ll be fine.
3. You’re not a failure for gaining a bit back. It happens! Weightloss and fitness are journey’s NOT destinations. Life gets crazy and will get unpredictable. Do what you can, and remember to allow yourself some breathing room. Getting mad at yourself can be motivating, but beating yourself up does little. Forgive and move forward. If midterms mean missed workouts? Eat clean & get back to it when they’re over. Have a dinner with the fam that’s not the healthiest? Bah, relax. Throw in an extra workout that week and forget about it. It’s okay.
4. Examine your relationship with weight. Is there a NEED for control there that is maybe unhealthy? Gaining 5lbs shouldn’t feel debilitating or annoying to anyone. What could that be reflecting? Are you still obsessed with the scale? Can it ruin your day? You’ve come a long way physically, but unless you work on why you NEED to over monitor, you might never be happy. And happy’s the goal, right? Maintenance is about having fun with the new body, not being bat poop crazy with keepin it at all times.
5. Give yourself permission to have a range of acceptable weight (again 5-10lbs) and don’t stress in that zone. If you gain too much, try to figure out why: have you been busy, stressed, worried, not sleeping etc. Your guard doesn’t have to be up 24/7. Wait & see if there’s a problem that needs addressing and address the issue. Don’t think it’s YOU.
6. Work smarter: not harder. Shorten your workouts but boost intensity! Usually, you can exercise less: but keep it consistent. Change things up regularly: boredom sets in fast if you’ve been doing the same thing too long!
7. Find new sources of motivation! Maintenance can be hard because the motivation to acheive a goal is gone. Find workout buddies, try new things, shake things up regularly. It’s playtime! Have fun! Motivations change constantly, so don’t worry if your old sources need updating! It’s normal.
8. Ditch the scale if you can (especially if you’re obsessed). Keep an eye on how your clothes fit instead, and know when you need to tighten up a bit and when you can let yourself go. Letting go is one of the best parts of maintenance, don’t miss out!
And the biggest thing to remember? You worked for that body so you could ENJOY it. Trust yourself. Trust that there’s nothing you can’t fix, that you know how to do this, and that you don’t need constant vigilance. Life happens, stuff changes and you might not always be exactly where you wanna be. But don’t freak: you GOT this. You’re not a failure, you’re prepared and you’ve done it before.
Onwards & upwards. :) Xo