Saturday, July 30, 2011

Life After Goal

at the Weight Watchers photoshoot... waiting to be shot
Suzi Storm & Me at the Weight Watchers Success Story photoshoot in February, 2011


Recently my pal Suzi Storm received a tweet from a follower who seemed surprised to hear that people at goal or lifetime might still have challenges with food or weight issues. Suzi & I both replied to her, but Suzi suggested that both she and I cover the topic more in-depth. Since we have both been at goal for about a year now I thought this was a great idea! Here's my experience/opinion... (You should also read Suzi's take on the subject here)

I did not expect to reach goal last summer. I just didn't see it coming. Even though I had been on plan for nearly 4 years when it happened, I simply wasn't expecting to drop that last few pounds so quickly. But on July 27th 2010, it did. I weighed in at 135 pounds - a weight I had never been as an adult. (Note: since I get asked often, my goal weight is 137, which is the top of the range for my height of 5'2")

Despite numerous attempts to be a healthy weight since age 8, I had never succeeded before last year. I always gave up before I reached that ultimate goal weight (and I only got close to it once, at age 21). Unsurprisingly, every time I gave up, I also always gained the weight back and had to start again.

I spent nearly 3 decades in that cycle.

Think about that for a minute: Prior to reaching goal, I had been struggling with a food addiction and was overweight or obese for the better part of 30 years. That's a really long time! In that time, I had engaged in many unhealthy behaviors and patterns of food abuse - I ate a mostly processed diet, was a sugar addict, a binger and a closet eater. I had a severely dysfunctional relationship with food and extreme hatred of myself and my body.

Of course, since 2006, I had been working on all of those things along my journey. I made some drastic and amazing lifestyle changes along the way, but the fact is that I was not suddenly cured of my old triggers, temptations or unhealthy habits just because I weighed in at a certain number that particular night. 

I think this is true for any member who reaches their goal - just because you see a number on the scale, it doesn't mean you have it all figured out, it doesn't mean things magically become 'easier' and it doesn't mean you're immune to setbacks.

With that in mind, and when you consider how long I lived unhealthily vs how long I was living healthy, it should not come as a surprise to know that I am, and always will be, a work in progress. Because the triggers and temptations still exist, they always will. And the choices I used to make are part of my history. I am fully aware that the habits that made and kept me heavy for most of my life are just one decision away at any time. I am aware that I have to choose better than I used to. I would not call it a struggle or a battle or anything so negative and dramatic. I would simply say I continue to assess situations and make the best choices possible at the time.

The good news is that having been through the process, I am now better equipped to manage those situations. I now ask myself what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. As my wise Weight Watches leader Melanie (who is running the Queens half today! You go, girl!!) once said, "it doesn't get easier, but we get better at managing it". And she's right. Everything I experienced along my journey (the good and the not so good - feedback, not failure, remember?) are what help me with decision making. Everything I've been through - every triumph and setback - affects the choices I make now.

Remember - this is is not a quick fix. This is not about making changes just until you reach a certain weight. This really is about permanent lifestyle change. And somewhere along my journey I realized and accepted that - that I would need to do this for the rest of my life. Personally, I'm ok with that. More importantly, I think you have to be. That's why it's imperative to make changes you can live with. Because you will be keeping them for the rest of your life - literally forever - to help you manage your weight.

If that seems too overwhelming right now ("I can't believe I have to do this forever!"), think about this: you can spend your forever (however many more days you are fortunate enough to be alive) being overweight and unhealthy and dealing with those challenging situations in a way that negatively impacts you OR you can spend it infinitely happier and healthier at a more appropriate weight while managing those situations, making better choices. Remember, it's your choice - everything is your choice - choose as well as possible as often as possible.

So even though I will encounter challenges and setbacks at Lifetime, I'd much rather be dealing with them here -  with the knowledge I've acquired in this much healthier body, than dealing with them at the start of my journey. The point is - don't let the fear of setbacks or challenges at goal deter you from getting there. I promise you, it feels so amazing that it's worth it.



27 comments:

  1. (sorry if this is a repost, it didn't look like it went through the first time)

    Dang, I was hoping the post would be about struggling when trying to lose the weight - I'm in a major funk right now. Of course I knew it wouldn't get easier when (if) you hit goal, but that doesn't mean I want to hear about it now, lol! Dang

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  2. Awwwwww I love your post!! Man, WE ROCK!! I love we both took slightly different angles, but conveyed the same message. Thats how we roll right?! Ha, ha!! I'm so happy that we did this. I love you girl!! XOXO

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  3. John what is your ? specifically I will try to address it for a topic.

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  4. I want to thank you for helping me feel less alone with the struggle when you're at goal. I have been at goal for a few months and it still catches me off guard that I have the same issues with maintaining that I did when I was losing.

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  5. Excellent post. Truth is told. I am a WW Lifetime member and a WW leader. When members join I ask them to consider making one commitment - to stick with it NO MATTER WHAT. I know (from experience) it is a long journey and never a perfect one. It can only be about perseverance at times. If this is a LIFEstyle then you have you whole LIFE to work on it. Hang in there Sheryl!

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  6. you, my dear, are an absolute inspiration.
    I haven't even met you and I am proud of you.
    You're beautiful. x

    sharpest-lives@blogspot.com

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  7. You are incredible, stunning and I love your blog! I'm so motivated by you.

    xo
    Sarah
    Get Up & Go

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  8. I'm so glad you posted this! I'm 10lbs away from goal and will have lost 117lbs once I'm there but I'm struggling. I am a food addict and while I've managed to keep it under control it's been a struggle. Last night I binged and am paying for it this morning, my stomach isn't liking me right now. What I can say is I have learned how to get right back on track after an episode of overeating. This journey hasn't been an easy one but all the work I've put in continues to pay off. I specifically came here this morning to read your blog because I was feeling hopeless and saw this post. I knew there was hope for me and that I'm not alone with these issues. Thankyou so much for continuing to inspire me =D

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  9. The only comment I can post after browsing trough your photos and this beautiful blog is WOW! You are true inspiration.

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  10. You are truly an inspiration for me! Congratulations on the blog on WW! Since you have a way with words I was hoping you could inspire me a little more. I was diagnosed with MS a year ago and it has put a huge hurdle in my fight to get healthy.

    Nothing has majorly restricted me physically, although I do suffer from major fatigue and occasional vertigo due to the disease, but when these new symptoms come on I am so heart broken I turn to binging. This was my problem before the MS. This leads to further disappointment, weight gain, and thus starts the vicious cycle, that has put me at the heaviest I have ever been.

    I was hoping you could just provide some words of encouragement that you believe will get me through these very hard times.

    Thanks so much!

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  11. There are many times when I'm on the treadmill and I think about giving up and then I think about you scooting along on your bike, looking happy and healthy and so stylin' and I work a little harder. It's so helpful to have someone like you to show that it can be done, and yes, this is what the future will look like--not twirling around on Oprah, but instead finding new journeys and friends and ultimately, myself. Thanks again, sweetie!

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  12. Thanks for this post! I've been thinking about goal quite a bit lately - I'm about 10 lbs away *grin*! I was wondering... what have you done with the clothes in your wardrobe that are too big? I'm afraid to give away all of my clothes that are too big now. Deep down, I can't let go of the fear that I will gain the weight again and need that clothing. Sounds silly, I know... but my budget is a factor too. (I came within .8 lbs of goal in 2007 and gained all of the weight back). Your thoughts?
    Also, you've been doing a lot of biking... have you been running too this summer?
    Thanks for all of the fabulous photos and posts! You are awe-inspiring 8^)

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  13. I am so happy to have found your blog as i inch closer to my goal (less than 5 to go!!!). flipping through your history has been so so inspirational.

    a question. when you hit lifetime, do you still have to pay for etools? My partner still has more to lose, so i will continue to go to weekly meetings with him, but i'm very curious if the WHOLE program is free after lifetime.

    thanks!!

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  14. Hi Sheryl! I was thinking about trying ww a few weeks back and found your blog by googling "vegan weight watchers". Just wanted to let you know that reading through your backlog of posts was really influential in helping me decide to join, your enthusiasm is infectious! I've lost a few pounds in 10 days and am really liking it so far. So, thanks! I'll be reading from now on.

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  15. These are great words of truth, and a reality that we weight-strugglers might not like ("you mean it's never going to end?") but which has to be faced. Making healthy choices is an ongoing process whether we are in lose mode or maintain mode. Congrats on your long period at or below goal, and thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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  16. How did you choose your goal weight? Is it based solely on BMI, or did other factors come into consideration (dress size, waist to hip ratio, fitness goals etc)?

    I am of a similar stature to you (5'2 and a half", hourglass shaped) and my BMI is 27.5, which I was shocked to hear makes me overweight (I have 'fat days' but I honestly didn't think I was fat). I look at you and think, that's how thin I have to be just to be in the upper realms of healthy? You look amazing! It's both inspiring and depressing.

    Also, I love your teal dress!

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  17. re: my goal weight. If you're a WW member, there is a chart based on your height. I picked the top number for my height. (I think the range is 109-137 for 5'2")

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  18. that is the reality of it, but what a great reality. i'll glady count points the rest of my life to feel good, be happy, be healthy, have boundless energy, and live longer. the alternative is to be unhealthy miserable and die too soon. seems like a fair trade off to me!

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  19. Amen sister....almost all of this rings true.

    May I say you look absolutely incredible and I love your style/flare! I am happy to see that you seem at peace with yourself and appreciate your zest for life! I think that you have achieved your 'true self' which is so amazing!

    Rock on!

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  20. Thanks for posting this. It is so true. I am Lifetime and even though I am at my goal weight technically I am struggling with exercise. I was unemployed during the summer and was lazy. Now that I'm working I'll get back into my routine and working out again.

    You just have to keep working on new ways to challenge yourself whether it's food related, exercise related or just purely personal.

    PS--I'm also enjoying your blog on the WW site!

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  21. you totally rock girl. thank you so much for sharing this. I have dropped 50 pounds in a year and a half, and have about 30 to go.. I keep thinking once I get there.. I'm done.. so not true! I will fight with everything in me to keep it that way!
    you keep inspiring.. we love you!

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  22. There is A LOT, and I mean A LOT of valuable information in this post. I hope everyone really takes the time to read your words because they are full of truth. I'm over half way to my goal and I still have struggles from time to time leaving bad habits behind.

    Sarah
    notaneffingdiet.blogspot.com

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  23. Love the feedback not failure. great thought :) ~~Shonnie

    Sheryl are you still riding in the NYC century?

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  24. beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

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  25. Another said it right here: "You, my dear, are an absolute inspiration.I haven't even met you and I am proud of you. You're beautiful." Wow. Just WOW! I found your blog through a WW group on Facebook and I feel like I want to cry. Not because I'm sad, but because I am at your before weight and it's like I'm looking at me (you have a better fashion and style sense, however). I am already losing slowly, but you have given me more hope!!! THANK YOU! You have an instant follower in me. :-)

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  26. I think a lot of people think that once they reach goal weight it's smooth sailing. Like they don't have to work at it anymore, or they'll magically be able to start eating crap again and not have to work out.

    I never felt like I'd be magically cured when I reached goal weight. Why? Because I wasn't on a diet. I was changing my life instead. I lost over 100 pounds and I've kept it off for 3 years now because I still do all the things I did when I was trying to lose the weight. I don't binge. I count my calories. I avoid junk food. I work out. It's all crucial for keeping it off!

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  27. Thank you for writing this post. I am nowhere near my goal yet, but I am wobbling and reading this really helped.

    I really think the hard work starts after you have lost the weight, I have seen so many of my friends who have lost weight only to put it back on just a quick.

    As corny as it sounds, it really is a lifestyle change. I just hope I will be able to keep it up.

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