Weight Loss and Maintenance by Al Coon

"It doesn't matter how odd, unpleasant, or even painful a diet or exercise regime may be, people who are desperate to lose weight will try it, if they believe it might take off the unwanted pounds. "

"Starting today–assuming that you begin your journey to your goal right now–what percentage of the rest of your life will be dedicated to weight loss, and what percentage will be dedicated to weight maintenance, after you have reached your goal weight? "

" If you are already maintaining before you ever reach your Goal Weight, then when you actually reach it, the transition from Weight Loss to Weight Maintenance is nearly transparent to you. There is nothing to bounce off of, because you are MAINTAINING THE JOURNEY–not just being motivated by a number on the scale. "

Al Coon With Maintenance in Mind
(It's Not Just For Your Endgame Anymore!)

A Proper Point of View

You stepped on the scale and the indicator went from BAD right on through WORSE and settled onto NO WAY! Suddenly, you find your mind racing, as you try to come to grips with this situation. It is unacceptable, but it is here. What are you going to do?

Many people, when hit with this situation, naturally become eager to fix it, and they immediately jump to a terribly wrong conclusion: they "need" to go on a diet.

They are suddenly motivated to do "whatever it takes" to lose the weight and that "whatever" comes in a myriad of forms. They will:

  • Search out the latest diet fad
  • Skip meals
  • Eat foods that they hate
  • Cut out entire food groups
  • Eat radically abnormal combinations of food
  • Join a gym and get into extreme exercise routines

It doesn't matter how odd, unpleasant, or even painful a diet or exercise regime may be, people who are desperate to lose weight will try it, if they believe it might take off the unwanted pounds.

In each case, when someone has the "diet mentality," he has made the critical mistake of planning to take temporary steps in order to solve a permanent problem. However, it is an unalterable law of nature that: No matter what you do to lose weight, once you stop doing it, the weight will one day return.

The one who has bought into the diet lie tells himself at some level, "I will only have to do this until I lose the weight." Right from the start, the plan is to quit "the diet," once the goal has been achieved.

Since dieting is viewed as a temporary action, nothing is too tough to try. It is tolerable because it is "only for awhile." There is no real, long-term plan to sustain the weight loss once it is achieved. Such an approach is doomed to fail right from the start.

There is a better way, a way that will actually work. Instead of taking a painful, temporary path to ultimate failure, you can take a pleasant, permanent path to success. It can be easy to do, because you will eat foods that you like. You can make it as comfortable as you please, and because it is comfortable, it will be a permanent change that will lead you to your goal weight, and keep you there for the rest of your life.

Instead of diving into an exercise routine that is incompatible with your lifestyle, takes up far too much time, and is unpleasant to boot, you can create a sensible and enjoyable exercise program that you can routinely do without injury. By making it fun and safe, you can continue your exercise program for life. A permanent change for permanent results is the only thing that will give you what you want: to live healthily at your goal weight for the rest of your life.

Why Wait? Start Maintenance NOW!

When you take a trip, all the actions that you take will form a whole. You plan your trip. You get in your car and you drive to the highway entrance. You drive down the onramp, and you enter the flow of traffic. On a long trip, you will make stops for gas and food. You will also stop at rest areas along the way, and at motels for the night. All the while, when you are doing any of these things, you are still taking your trip. "The trip" includes everything that goes on, right up until you reach your destination.

It is the same with the weight loss journey. Your goal is to live healthily at your goal weight for the rest of your life. Everything that you do to make that goal a reality is part of the journey. Also, remember that anything that you do in support of your goal is MAINTENANCE of your journey.

My karate instructor used to tell his students that, "It is all part of training." Whatever you do in life, will dovetail into your journey in one way or another. It is all part of maintenance, and by shaping your activities with that in mind, you can ease the path to your goal.

Goal Weight Maintenance is Almost Everything!

Starting today–assuming that you begin your journey to your goal right now–what percentage of the rest of your life will be dedicated to weight loss, and what percentage will be dedicated to weight maintenance, after you have reached your goal weight?

Let's assume that we will live to be 75 years old, about the average life expectancy in the USA.(1) Of course we have no way of knowing whether or not we will live that long, or even much longer than that. But for this discussion we'll use that number, since it represents a number that is close to correct for the average person in our society.

If you are 35 today, that means you will have another 40 years ahead of you. If it takes you 2 years to reach your goal, that would be only 5% of your remaining life, leaving 95% of your life for Goal Weight Maintenance. While the weight loss phase seems long at first, in reality, even if it takes several years, it is a very small time when compared with the Goal Weight Maintenance phase.

Since you will be spending nearly all of the rest of your life in the Goal Weight Maintenance phase of your journey, doesn't it make sense that all of your planning should be aimed at maintenance?

What will you be doing when you are maintaining your Goal Weight? You will be eating correctly, drinking your water, and exercising in a safe and consistent manner. If you start doing that today, you will also be doing the same things you need to do in order to lose your weight down to your Goal Weight.

The Second Million

I once heard a comedian say that he was working on his second million dollars first, because the first million was too hard to get. There is a nugget of truth in that joke. The second million is easier to earn, not only because you have capital to work with, but because you have the experience and attitude that will support your efforts.

On your Weight Loss Journey, Maintenance is like working on your second million. It only makes sense to start out where you want to be. Maintenance is NOT a number on the scale, but it is the process of living a lifestyle that will keep you thin and healthy. Since the same process that you use for Maintenance will also help you to lose weight, why wait?

If you develop good habits today that will help you maintain your weight loss, you will find that those same habits will also ensure that you have the weight loss in the first place. When you contemplate the large number of people who, once they have lost all of their excess weight and have reached their goal weight, just bounce off the bottom and put the weight back on again, it becomes clear at once how important it is to avoid setting yourself up for that.

If you are already maintaining before you ever reach your Goal Weight, then when you actually reach it, the transition from Weight Loss to Weight Maintenance is nearly transparent to you. There is nothing to bounce off of, because you are MAINTAINING THE JOURNEY–not just being motivated by a number on the scale.

Eye on the Long Haul

Each day will be another step in your successful journey if you think not of what the scale says today, but rather what you are going to eat, how much water you will be drinking, and how much exercise you will be getting today.

Live each day with faith in the process. Believe that when you do the right things, you will get the right results. Be excited about what you can do today. Today you can be a success…a total success!

When you reach your daily goals for eating, water, and exercise, you have done all that you can do for one day. You have achieved total success for today. No one could do more than you have done today to maintain your Weight Loss Journey. You have accomplished your goal for today, and today is all that you can control. Bravo, you are a success!

The Stretch of Road That You Are On

Days in the summer are not the same as days in the winter. A day in spring has its own special quality. As the earth travels around the sun, our seasons move from one to the next: the weather changes, and the feelings that we have about that mark our daily lives. Things like outdoor exercise are directly impacted by the weather and therefore by the seasons.

Even the days of the week are not all the same. When you work a five day work week, each day has its own flavor. The restaurant TGI Friday's has a name based on the age old happy feeling that most of us have for the day Friday. "Thank goodness it's Friday," has been a popular phrase for a very long time, and was shortened to "TGIF" long before the restaurant borrowed the idea.

Your age, and the age of those loved ones around you, will change. The entire fabric of our lives is formed by change, as well as being rooted in the traditions that have been with us and our ancestors for a long time. The familiar and the new are mixed in a unique way each and every day of our lives.

This is very much like what you face when driving a long distance on a highway. As the miles tick off, you face new scenery and new road conditions. However, at the same time, you are seeing similar signs, and recognizable businesses, providing familiar services all along the way. The road may be straight as an arrow, and the land may be covered by waving corn, while the drive yesterday was through the rough and curvy terrain of the Rocky Mountains, but you once again see the Shell sign up ahead, and the Taco Bell restaurant set up against the highway. The new and the familiar always mix in novel ways with each mile that passes by.

When you are hit with struggles in your journey, you will feel like you are faced with a very difficult hill to get over. On the other hand, you may find that joy surprises you today, and it feels like you are coasting downhill with no effort at all. At times you will find the straight and easy path you have been on will suddenly become a maze of curves.

It is important to always focus on driving the stretch of road that you are on. You will have to develop many techniques and approaches as the days go by, so that you can meet all of the challenges. But when you focus only on the road you are driving today, you can overcome the challenges that you will meet. And, since it is "all part of training," over time, you will collect a very powerful set of tools and techniques so that you will know how to tackle the next hill that comes along!

Doing a little bit at a time, by focusing on today, you will be more than a match for whatever comes along. It may be difficult at times, but you will be able to win out! Maintenance will become more routine than you would have thought possible, because you will become a master of dealing with the stretch of road you are on, while not worrying about the stretch that you will be driving tomorrow, or next week, or next year.

Defusing the Transitional Bomb

We all know people who have lost all of the weight that they have wanted to, only to put it all back on. I am an example of such a person myself. I did that in 1992, and then again, most recently in 1995. This occurance is so common that it is a wonder that the health and weight loss sections of bookstores are not filled up with books on weight maintenance programs, instead of diet programs.

There seems to be a fuse lit on a psychological bomb every time someone reaches his goal weight. The fuse burns for some arbitrary amount of time, and then boom, the diet falters, and the weight starts coming back.

It is not mandatory that we fail after apparent success has been in our grasp. Reaching our short-term goal does not mean that we must then relax and submit to the same pressures that orginally caused us to be overweight.

Clearly, if you are already maintaining when you hit goal, there is no actual transition event to light the fuse on the bomb. Since you are not daily aiming for a number on a scale, when you reach your goal weight, you have not hit your actual goal. Instead, it is a side effect of daily hitting your goal of eating right, and getting in the right amount of water and exercise. It is your journey that caused you to reach your goal, and you are directly maintaining your journey, not your goal weight.

In other words, when you hit your goal weight, you have merely passed another milestone; you have not reached your goal. You celebrate, but you don't blow up! You instead continue on with what you have been doing all along.

Too many people run their weight loss journey in a logical way, like they would play a game of chess, but when they hit their goal they throw the logic away, along with their careful planning, and turn instead to throwing dice and hoping.

We are not going to do that, because we know that weight loss and weight maintenance are merely two parts of a single whole process. It is all one, and as long as we view it that way, we will reach our goal weight and, we will remain there, by maintaining our journey throughout the entire process.

Start Maintenance Today!

What you will do today is take the steps necessary to maintain your lifelong journey to thinness and health. When you aim an arrow in archery practice, you do not concern yourself with last week's arrows, or next year's arrows. You instead put all of your focus on this one arrow. There is no other arrow at this point in time. There is only the one arrow.

So it is with the weight loss journey. There is only this day. Today you will aim only at maintaining your journey by hitting your daily goals. Your focus will not be distracted by yesterday's results, or tomorrow's challenges. You will make sure that today you will hit your short-term goals.

In addition to the critical step of focusing only on today, your success will be insured by the fact that you will also make today's goals easy to reach. Pick foods that fill you up and that give you the most satisfaction for your calorie allotment. Don't eat foods that you don't like. Try each day to find even better food choices than you did the day before–foods that are even more fun to eat–while continuing to remain on program.

In the same vein, don't pick exercise activities that you hate. Search out exercise activities that you will get excited about, and so return to day after day.

This is going to be a lifelong and enjoyable journey. If you do not believe that, unfortunately, you will fail. The reason that you will fail is very basic: if you view it as a temporary diet, or if you are unhappy in your journey, at some point in the future, you will quit, and then you will put your weight back on again.

In order to be successful in reaching your goal of a lifetime of healthy thinness, you have to build a lifestyle that will mold itself comfortably and effectively to your personality. This happy lifestyle will also lead you into achieving your daily goals for maintaining your journey.

Where You Are On Your Journey Doesn't Matter

Yes, you can start maintenance today, right now. You do not have to wait until you reach some particular weight on the scale. In fact it is better if you don't wait. Since the entire journey is made of the same material, it all boils down to one thing: are you on a journey or not? If you are on a journey, you should be working on maintaining that journey as your primary focus.

If you are maintaining your journey by hitting your daily goals, then you are achieving your overall goal today! You are either moving down to your goal weight, or you are holding steady at your goal weight, but you are maintaining your journey. You don't move down to your goal weight, only to "change games." It is all one "game" and it has only one set of rules: eat right, drink your water, and exercise. You win the "game" by maintaining your journey TODAY.

The scale will follow your journey—ALWAYS! If you properly maintain your journey, you will reach your goal weight and remain there for the rest of your life. There is no magic or razzle-dazzle that you have to perform. It is straightforward and clear. Maintenance awaits you, don't keep it waiting.

1. Average US Life Expectancy-

        1900 - 47.6 years
        1950 - 69.1 years
        1985 - 75.3 years
        2000 - 77.4 years

            Source: The World Almanac 2006

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