Friday, September 18, 2009

Gaining It Back

If I were a betting man (and mind you, I am), I’d have to place a nice little wager on me gaining this weight back again one day. I know that sounds bad and oh-so-uninspirational, but all I have to go by is history. My past actions indicate that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, I’m going to lose my mind and, for absolutely no good reason, pack the pounds on one more time.

I blame a fellow blogger for planting this seed in my brain. M at My Three Month Okinawa Diet recently dropped an amazing amount of weight in a jaw-dropping time frame. Of course, I attribute a great deal of his success to the fact that (1) he measures himself in kilograms instead of pounds, and we all know losing pounds is much more difficult than losing kilograms, and (2) he’s been living in Japan where they don’t have any real food. Anyway, he made his goal weight and kind of dropped off my radar. Good for him, I thought

Then all of a sudden, he was back. After just a couple of months, he had gained back over 50 lbs. Yikes! In his post detailing just what the hell happened, Michael shakes his head at the gain, dazed and dumbfounded that he lost focus so quickly and completely.

I know it can happen to me, too. Given my past, I’d have to conclude that it’s likely to happen to me as well. I exude confidence these days, but I’ve exuded confidence in the past, and then something inside my faulty wiring kicked in and… well, let’s just say “mistakes were made.”

So who’s to say that history isn’t going to repeat itself, as history has been known to do with frightening regularity? Who’s to say that I’m not going to pull an encore of my past weight-loss performances and finish right back where I started? Who’s to say I’m not going to gain it all back… and then some?

I’ll tell you who.


No, who.

Might be whom.

I’ll tell you who or whom: me, that’s who or whom.

This isn’t like any other rodeo I’ve been to before; this is some whole different altogether something-something. I’m losing, but the losing is a by-product of changes I’m making in all aspects of my life. There’s no end to this road, no finish line to cross and celebrate at, no destination to mark the end of the line.

People ask me what my goal is, what’s the weight I’m shooting for. When I began this trek, I threw up those playful “milestones” on the side of my blog because, truthfully, I had no idea what I had in me at that point, had no specific number I was targeting. Now, five months later, I have less of a final number in mind than I did back then.

I’m 6' 4" and I’ve seen my “ideal weight” listed as anywhere from 180 to 210 lbs. I’m just planning on keeping up what I’m doing and see where the scale takes me. Honestly, I’d lock it down right here if I could make certain that I wouldn’t spring back up in the days to come.

This blog… this ridiculously foolish time-waster of a blog… deserves a lot of credit for helping me maintain my laser-like focus and for my somewhat steady series of successful weigh-ins. For better or worse, I’ve committed to being accountable in this space. I may not use it as a daily diary like some do, but it helps me steer the ship and be mindful of icebergs that may be lurking just below the water’s surface. If there’s something new in this space (and mind you, there’s been something new in this space every day since Easter), you can be certain that my weight loss efforts are still bubbling and boiling on the front burner.

And that leads me to the last component in why I’m planning to lose that bet about gaining it all back: you. I get so much support and encouragement, both here and in emails, that gaining the weight back has been the furtherest thing from my mind of late. I’m not going to gain it back because I know that if I keep posting, if I keep this blog chugging along, you won’t let me gain it back. You’ll poke and prod me, you’ll lift me up when I stumble and you’ll give me a stern talking-to when I need it most. Keeping your eyes on the horizon is a bit easier when you know friends have got your back.

M’s back on plan these days, living and losing in the land of the rising sun. But this go-round, he’s factoring in that yo-yo tendency, bracing for the rocky road of maintenance.

He’s not done, but like me, he’s already making plans for what comes next.


  1. it's "who"

    Anyway, I think we all have to worry about maintenance. The statistics are against all of us. I think there's a profound difference between dieting and changing our lifestyles. Those of us who are dieting (have a goal weight in mind where we see ourselves as "finished") have a poorer chance than those who see this as a permanent lifestyle change.

    There is no going back to Krispee Cremes after we're done.

  2. Kate is right, the statistics are really poor for long term maintenance. BUT, you have a solid game plan for maintenance and that's so important.

    When I went into maintenance I didn't really change what I had already been doing. I just added a tiny bit of food in until I figured out where the "tipping point" was. And sad to say, it really was a tiny bit of food. For example, two pieces of bread and a container of yogurt.

    This is a great post Jack - you've done an amazing job!

  3. Well thank you (or youm?) for sharing your journey, whether or not it's a daily diary. My goal weight has changed so many times I refuse to even say what it might be. I think you'll know when you get there.

  4. I couldn't have said it better myself. I also feel like "this time" is so much different than all the other times I've tried to lose and keep off the weight.

    I'm starting to re-think my goal weight and where I want to ultimately end up. I'll post about it soon.

  5. this is my worst fear, after working so hard this time around I hope that I can keep it off forever, I think we are all scared of failure, but I think maybe that's better than being scared of success. Great post as usual!

  6. Love this post! I with you on recognize that YOU are the most important person in this journey. Just like I am the most important one in mine. I am holding myself accountable for leading a healthy lifestyle. The people I communicate with through blogs, twitter, & Facebook motivate me and inspire me. I do this for my overall healthy and well-being.

    Also, if my quest to lead a healthy lifestyle can help someone else, all the more better!

    Cheers to you!

  7. Great post, Jack.

    There but for the grace of God, and all that...

  8. Excellent post - thanks for this!

  9. Funny... in all my previous attempts, I never really thought of the maintenance phase.

    Now that I am determined to not only lose but keep it off, I think about maintenance a lot.

    Mainly because I refuse to make changes now that I won't be able to keep later.

    It's scary and tough but for once I'm not letting it deter me.

    Thanks for this post! and have a great weekend!

  10. There is less than a 5% chance for dieters to keep their weight off for more than a year so I often wonder how I could possibly be in that 5%. I have lost and gained my weight back PLUS more 6 times. I wish I could say I had your confidence.

  11. I think you have the right attitude.

    The focus is on making changes and losing the weight is a by product of that.

  12. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing this. We have to watch each others back here. I know you got mine. Please trust I have yours.
    You will do this.
    You will keep it off.
    You got a whold bunch of people who would hunt u down if there is a hint of you going off the rails!! LOL!
    Keep up the good work.

  13. The hard part is that we have to accept that we can never eat anywhere near the way we used or we *will* gain it back. I, for one, really like the feeling of being full. I don't think I'm alone there. Sometimes, I aim for it again. It might not be with the same kind of food, but I can still gain weight if I eat to full-ness (even without sugar, wheat or flour). Every day it's a choice between having that feeling of full-ness or staying lighter. It's something we mourn, and it gets harder after the rush of the continued weight loss lessens.

  14. Another hole in one. thanks for the great post, Jack.

  15. Another good blog and a good attitude. I tend to think, "When I hit 165 lbs, I'm going to do a week's worth of buffets." Terrible! No. I should keep going until I get to that healthy ideal and then work to keep that healthy ideal...and just...well heck...just LIVE! Good muscles, good habits, good skin, good hair, good teeth, good blood sugar, good heart. LIVE for me...not for the doughnut or skinny jeans.

  16. I really do believe maintaing a weight loss is more difficult than the actual weight loss itself. Good for you for having a plan. I, for one, will be cheering for your continued success. That, and IF you slip, I want to be online ready to slap you upside the head. :)

  17. I think blogging has helped me keep my sanity and keep from choking some stupid people to death! Keep it up I am sure this is one of the many tools that helps you to get to where you are today. Remember, those who think they can't are right. --

  18. I don't know quite what to say.

    It'll be hard, but honestly, I bet it will be less hard. Jack, you've lost almost 70 pounds. You're approaching a normal weight. After all you've been though, honestly, maintenance will be a luxury.

    I'd advise that you keep up with weigh ins, keep watching what you eat, keep exercising, keep blogging (okay, I said the last one selfishly, but shhh), and it's likely you'll stay on track. Don't let it all go to sh*t, Jack. You've come too far. And when you're doubting, it might help to read your letter to your future self.

    You can do it, Jack.

  19. I love your "serious" posts, Jack. Sorry. Seriously, I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to be introspective.

    As you know, I have an aversion to any kind of diet--especially those that resemble food straight-jackets, even though they promise weight-loss miracles. If you follow the rules, you WILL lose, but straight-jackets are not made to be worn forever and the minute you take that diet straight-jacket off, the weight comes piling back on.

    I actually visited Mr. Okinawa's blog once but never went back. Fittingly, the word that came to mind was kamikaze. He was both angry and messianic: my way or the highway! I'm sorry to hear that they weight came back so fast, but not surprised.

    Although it can be psychologically hard to lose weight very, very slowly (maybe, if I'm lucky, a pound a month), I am developping a completely different attitude toward food and this attitude will serve me well for years to come.

    I weigh about 18 pounds less than my all-time high. This is a lot of weight when you're 4'10". I want to lose another 15-17 pounds, but I'd rather stay at the weight I am now, rather than yo-yo 35 pounds one way or the other.

    I am not a diet warrior. Living in a state of war (me vs. the food) is not a long-term, viable strategy. And I don't think it's a viable strategy for 99% of people. We've got to make peace with food.

    Keep up the good work, Jack. I for one will continue to read your blog and give you as much support as I can. I appreciate your support too.

  20. I know that the odds are against us but we are gonna do this and do it successfully against the odds! Hooraa!

  21. And don't forget the flogging you'll get from me if you ever start retreating. I'm the Whip Master and don't you forget it!

  22. Hey Jack! It's Jill! Been down any hills lately? ;)

    I feel your pain, or your fear of pain anyway. Last summer I went on a "plan" and lost 30+ pounds, then during the winter I gained back 15 pounds. Oddly enough, I'm kind of glad I did because now I know what NOT to do. I learned a good lesson, and hopefully that will help me lose the next 20 and keep it off (for good).

  23. I'm maintaining a 75 pound weight loss ten plus years. I'm maintaining (barely/mostly) a 100 pound weight loss of four years. There is no "done". It's got to be a lifestyle change.

    In prior years, I'd lost 50 plus pounds several times, only to regain it rapidly. I even went so far as to gain 100 pounds in under two years. That takes some dedication, sadly.

    From all I've read, you've made the necessary changes in your way of thinking to be one of the few, the proud, the maintainers. Good luck.

  24. this might be my favorite post of yours - just saying.

  25. Yay we get to have Jack posts for the REST OF OUR LIVES. It doesn't get much better than this.

  26. Ahhh, the 500 lb bear in the room has been spotlighted. Well done!

    This very real fear underscores the importance of HOW we lose the weight to begin with. In their strictest terms, the words "95% of dieters regain their weight" make sense. Yes, a diet is not a long-term solution because most "diets" are not realistic long-term plans. The key is a combination of exercise and healthy eating for both weight loss and maintenance. Of course, you know this...we all do.

    But to delve further in this, exercise seems to be the key to preventing weight regain. For example, this article:

    This makes sense. We are challenged several times a day with food issues because we are constantly refueling ourselves. Thus, playing the numbers game, the odds of making a "mistake" are pretty high. And they will be made. That's the reality.

    But the one thing that will mitigate these mistakes is regular exercise (purging, of course, is not an option). And if we have incorporated a regular program of exercise in weight loss mode, it will go a long way in preventing weight gain because (hopefully) that exercise has become enough of a habit that it will be accepted as part of everyday (or near everyday) life. Really, 30-45 minutes of exercise is a lot easier to deal with than having to constantly shield oneself from the occasional "no-nos" every time we socialize, or have to catch a quick unhealthy meal, etc. Without the exercise, those mistakes will come back to bite and implant themselves on our collective asses. Chocolate cake, pizza and beer will be in our futures, even in maintenance. It's almost guaranteed. How that affects us is going to depend largely on whether we choose to remain active post-weight loss.

    And thus I leave you with another "answer to everything" in your growing s**tpile. :-)

  27. I agree with you on this one. Maintenance will pretty much be more of what I'm doing now. Just because we hit a number doesn't mean we can just drop it all & go back to how we used to do things because that isn't our way of life anymore.

    I really think you've got it in you to succeed.

    Best wishes,

  28. time wasting blog? au contraireies, having a weightloss blog is the equivalent of a alcoholic going to an AA meeting everyday. the benefits in support, focus are amazing.

    everyone blogs differently. and everyone has to blog in such a style that it benefits them and their journey. my blog has no pics, no stats, not many personal details, but i know if i get too exposed, ill get shy and stop blogging altogether. i love the way each blogger brings his/her own needs and expressions to the table.

    maintenance? one difference i feel is i see no goal line. day to day lifestyle changes period. if sugar hurts me now, its going to damage me if im 12o lbs too! great post jack.

  29. If I stop blogging, it is quite likely that I have my head in the fridge and I am stuffing my face.

    We are just going to have to keep at it aren't we? I see the future - maintenance blogs.

  30. I hate it when blogs go silent... I always imagine that they've given up and are rolling back down the hill at an alarming speed.

    You go, Jack! We're right behind you!

  31. yeah failure not really an option...

  32. i stopped reading after 6'4".

  33. People actually have your email address? lol Great post! I can't picture you ever giving up!

  34. You definitely can do it for good this time because you know what its going to take and you've accepted it... a lifetime of rewriting lyrics interspersed with heartfelt, thought-provoking posts like this one to keep the support network in place.
    I'm trying to find my way into maintenance (apart from a tiny glitch at the moment. I've regained about 5lbs on holiday and am still trying to shift it.)Since starting my own blog and beginning to find that support out there I've started to finally believe I really can do it too...

  35. Whoa Jack, 6'4" and 223? You must be smokin hot already! Forget those weight charts. My DH is 6'1" and about 230 and looks awesome. He has been down to 210 before and just looked, well, less studly to me. It all depends on how much of that weight is muscle, I guess.

    Anyway, my WLS Dr. told me the success rate of yo-yo dieters who keep landing back in the "obese" range was about 2%. TWO FREAKIN PERCENT. I have done this for enough years to know that I am part of the 98%.

    BUT someone has to be in that 2%, and I am willing to bet its going to be you. You have everything working for you - First, you are a man, so you have an instant metabolism advantage. Second, you have the exercise thing down. Third, you have all these adoring fans to keep you on track.

    I think you can keep it off. How much do you want to bet?

  36. I think you actually having the serious mindfulness to look at the what if's is going to help you avoid them.

    I laugh when people talk about "diets" as it's just something you jump on and of, when the weight is fixed- you throw them away.

    If it's real, the changes need to be real. The journey isn't over at 199 pounds for me when and if I can get there. Sure there will always likely be Chinese Food Buffets on the menu with gooey heaping goodness, but they won't be everyday if I want the health and fitness thing to really work.

    We are in this for life. If you escape the wall trust me the food police will hunt you down and catch you... maybe not tommorow but soon!

    At Foolsfitness it's all about life choices, specifically doing life at the crag ragoon buffet line!-Alan

  37. I've thought about the same thing before- but this time- I am on WW and I know that when I finally make it to my goal - I will continue to be a lifetime member and attend the meetings.

    i think the most important thing is to have an "after-plan" as well.

  38. Absolutely fantastic post!!!! You know we will not let you gain this back BUT from me, I think you have it so right this time that you will not let yourself gain it back. You are doing it right & are accountable to yourself!

    I did keep an eye on the scale but more so on my clothes too because I am a lot of muscle which makes me weigh more for my clothes size. But the scale does tell me if I am going up & not coming down. Especially now with age hormones fighting me, I did keep both scale & clothes as an indicator of staying fit & healthy.

    You are going to keep it off Jack.. and with your weight lifting, maybe the weight will be more but you will be leaner & tougher! :-)

  39. Hell you have to admit that the same forces that made us get fat have a great shot to send us all back to fat town once we get our weight down.

    One of the main reasons I do this blog is to force me to face you all. That's also why I so openly discussed my weight loss plans this week at this conference. The more I blab about it the more I feel the burden of the whole commitment I have made.

    Seem desparate? I suppose, but I am banking on it being part of the difference.

    Great post, Jack

  40. Even if you sometimes feel like this blog is a timewaster, please please please never forget that your blog inspires others. You have a unique voice in the weight loss world.

    And you will keep it off, because you're not just losing pounds, you're losing the thought patterns and behaviours that lead you to gain weight in the first place.

  41. yeah, there is something different about this time. there's all these good blogs to keep us motivated. thanks for writing one!

  42. I did the same thing - no goal other than to see where my new habits would take me. That in itself, is a great beginning.

    If you make permanent rules, ones you can stick to, you will not gain it back.

    I think you're going to be fine. I've not gained anything in 1.5 years, so I know what I'm talking about. :-D

  43. Anytime you need a good ass kickin', Jack, you just let me know. I'll set you back on track, you can count on it!

  44. Great post and so true! This should definitely be a lifestyle change and you're doing a great job at it!

    Keep it up!

  45. I know how you feel Jack, and trust me we won't let you fall completely. One thing about these blogs is that you can always count on the support of everyone who follows.

    and it's Who...

    ps did you like the poem?

  46. I dunno, my feeling has always been, my ideal weight is what I can comfortably sustain eating like a grown up. Which may not end up being very thin, but it's lighter than where I started (*not* eating like a grown up). My DH is 6'3" and 228. He's aiming for 220 which isn't "correct" by BMI standards but it's maintainable and he looks great.

  47. As an English teacher, I can tell you that it's "who." :)

    Great post. It is so true that we may all gain this back, and many of us, myself included HAVE gained it back in the past. But you're right - I too feel differently this time. I've made similar lifestyle changes to you, and I'm out to make a new history for myself.

  48. Here's to letting your body find that right number at the scale and to making it different this time! I'm routing for you! Let's be history makers!!!!!

  49. I've also looked at his blog a few times in the past, felt that he was rather extreme in his lifestyle. I'm lazy and slow and don't do anything that I'm not doing the rest of my life. I can't imagine that I'm going to hit some maintenance number (10 pounds till not overweight), and I'll change my lifestyle. I'll either not get there, or I'll get there and keep going. I don't think I'll lose indefinately, and I may not lose much more. It's getting harder as I get closer, esp after quitting smoking, not good for weight loss.

  50. Now Jack I don't know you too well but I feel the need to smack your hand, tell you off, point a wagging finger,and shake my head. YOU HAVE FIFTY COMMENTS AND ALWAYS HAVE LOADS OF READERS- HOW CAN THAT POSSIBLY BE FOOLISH AND TIME WASTING. Whatever happens to your weight, you can be proud of being an inspiration and help to dozens of people. Inside of a big or small frame- you are great writer and a natural leader. Nag over.

  51. Hmmm. I can sense that you still have doubts about your resolve as is natural but I am so happy that you are vigilant and the farthest ever from overconfidence. I was overconfident when I lost some weight and then, surprisingly (!), I gained it back. Though I've read almost every single one of your posts I've never commented (odd, I know) so I thought I would show my support and let you know that I'm watching you (in a totally non-creepy way) and will keep coming back to your very valuable home on the interwebs.

  52. Hey Jack, I need to ask you a massive favour. Myself and my partner Robert have entered a competition to win a trip to Thailand to help them with their tourism growth. We had to submit a 1 minute video about ourselves. Our video has been viewed around 600 times but some people who have not been on for as long have had around 10000 hits, i see cheating is obviously on their agendas, the first stage is supposed to be based on what the judges think of you but i suspect it has to do with how many views you get. So i am asking you since you have a large followers base if you would be willing to write a wee blog to your followers and ask them to follow the link at the bottom and view the video of myself and Robert, feel free to view it as many times as you want as it increases the viewage, i have noticed you only need to watch the first couple of seconds and then you change page and go back and woola another 1 view :) Cheating? maybe, but it seems thats what everyone else is doing. I know that your friends and families don't know me and Robert but it would be totally appreciated.

    Thank You In Advance.

    Caley & Robert

  53. Great post! I love coming here and reading, its always enlightening :)

  54. Great post, this is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately, as I'm losing my regain, I hope not to have to lose it again!

  55. Love this post, and I feel exactly the same way. This time it is different. I think it's the blogging. That's the thing that's keeping me more focused than ever before in the past. Plus the support out there. It's incredible.

    Thanks for another insightful, thoughtful post. You rock my friend!

  56. Yeah, I hear you. It's always in th back of my mind, too. This isn't the first time I've held up my fat pants and said I'm not going back. But if you don't take that leap of faith & roll the dice again, what chance do you have?

  57. Jack, hang in there. Make your food choices something you can live with, and food that you enjoy. Make it healthy so that you feed the systems in your body that require certain vitamins and minerals, preferrably in their natural form. I have more trouble craving food when my diet is not balanced and I'm not getting the nutrients I need. You've done a great job! Just keep on keepin' on!
    Mom O.

  58. Jack, I continue to love how your blog evolves to include the serious stuff along with the absurdly funny! Thanks for sharing your process. I know this time is different for me. Can I explain why/how? Not without sitting down and writing for an hour! I just know. I hope you know, too.

  59. I just got back from Cherokee, and read this....gaining it back? I don't think that was EVER on the list of options. And you're right Jack....we've got your back. And we're not going anywhere. :)



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