So what? No 5%?
Monday, January 15, 2018
It was 2009 when I discovered Sparkpeople. Next September will mark my 9-year sparkversary.
And ever since the beginning, I’ve been reading about this “weight loss elite”. This 5% of people who actually lost weight and kept it off more than five years. Those people that actually managed to change their unhealthy habits and made new ones that they kept for a lifetime.
Back then, I knew that I already had more than one weight loss experiences that classified me as a 95% loser, belonging to this huge group of people who lose big amounts of weight only to gain it all back and even more in a period of time that varies between a few months and up to five years. So, the question was this: Can I actually make it into the 5%? Can I lose weight and keep it off for more than 5 years and ideally for the rest of my life?
That was my personal bet. And, believe me friends, after all these years, and now that I know so much more about nutrition and weight loss, this is everyone’s personal bet. Weight loss is easy – yes, you read that right – compared to weight maintenance. Following some new healthy habits for a while can be a great adventure, especially when you’re awarded with weight loss, but maintaining those habits for the rest of your life? That’s another story. And if you’re new to weight loss, let me tell you a little secret that could make you more careful and save you from highly likely future disappointments: Relapse can happen any time. Even after years. Even when you think you have it all figured out...
But back to my story. And I hope you don’t find this tiring but I really feel that I have to share this with my sparkfriends. My real weight loss journey, when I finally grabbed the basics and began to put them into action began in 2011. By the end of 2012, I had managed to lose a total of almost 60 pounds, a few of them before sparkpeople, but the biggest amount with the help of the resources I found here. So, the timer was on. All I had to do to make it into the 5% was to keep the weight off until the end of 2017. And then, hopefully the statistics would prove right and I would actually be able to keep it off forever!
At the beginning I was doing great! Yes, there were a few ups and downs but nothing that would remain unfixed for more than a couple of months. Good eating habits and exercise became a way of life and I wanted everyone to know about this. I didn’t want anyone else in the world to ever suffer with extra weight and diets, so I tried to spread the message. I made my own blog and I wanted to help people even more. So, I went back to school to study nutrition. It was already 2016. And I can remember myself thinking “Wow, I’ve got this! I can actually make it!”
But that’s where the story started taking a different turn… Why? Because life changes. Because it always finds a way to remind you that you have to try hard for everything and that you should never take something for granted. Your everyday life is made of pieces - work, family, personal time, schedules - that connect to each other, just like a puzzle. When one of the pieces changes for some reason, you have to adjust all the other ones, otherwise they won’t match and the whole structure becomes unstable and ready to collapse. I won’t get into details about how my life changed because that would make this post way too long! In short, I’ll tell you this: Life was throwing lemons, full baskets of them! And at the same time I was trying to create a new reality for myself. And that’s where my puzzle became unstable and some bad, long-forgotten creatures found their way out: old habits!
I allowed myself to relapse to old habits. Plus, some of the lemons that life was throwing were health-related. Hashimoto disease which fired up and constantly depleted me of energy, sciatica pain which made my workouts so much more difficult and a newly-discovered bad case of vitamin D deficiency which completely messed up my metabolism. But I wouldn’t blame any of these for what happened. I know it all comes down to my inability to adjust what I had taken for granted. Habits and choices that I thought were established and would be rock-solid for the rest of my life. How naive of me!
So, what happened? Here comes the confessing part of this blog…
I watched the pounds slowly creeping back on. I gained weight. Not all of it, thank goodness! I’m still too far away from the heaviest I’ve ever been. But enough to become overweight again. And how do I feel about that?
Angry with myself.
My inner voice has always been too critical. I’ve always been the strictest judge of myself and my actions. But this time? Oh, you have no idea! I never knew I could become this hard on myself. I’ll soon be a certified nutritionist. I have the know-how. I’ve been there before. I should have seen the signs and make the changes early and never let the damage happen.
But here comes the good news. And if you’ve made it this far, dear sparkfriends, and I really thank you for reading this, this is the part that I want you to keep from this random blog that you chose to read today. I’ve faced many failures in life. Not just weight-loss-related but several other ones. And failure is actually a magical thing. It can destroy you if you give it permission to do so. But it can also instill a kind of persistence in your mind that you never knew you could find in you. It can make you strong and able to stand up every single time you fall. And this is what I’m going to do. Keep on keeping on.
And I’m back on sparkpeople because this is where success came in the first place. Because this is where you can find one of the most important elements of weight loss, the one that I intend to stress enough to my future clients: the support system. Which is amazing and effective in this large, positive community of sparkpeople. And speaking of that, I have been privileged to have met some wonderful friends here who motivate me every single day. Just a stop by their sparkpages remind me that it is actually feasible. The 5% people do exist and they are an inspiration to us all. And also there are some others who have been here long, fighting through the good and the bad days and still trying to reach their goals and motivate others.
I’m here for all those people! For Holly, who repeatedly checked up on me when I mostly needed it and has always been a bright ray of positivity in my life. For Annie, my hero, the person that I always look up to for inspiration. For Leslie and Ellen, who are bright examples of lifelong maintainers and spread tons of motivation. And of course, for Claire, the only sparkfriend that I’ve met in person, who is always such a good friend and I enjoy all the nice discussions we have whenever we meet.
That’s it friends. The journey begins again.