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So what? No 5%?

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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.

A failure.

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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow. I'm not sure how I found your blog today but I've had similar feelings - without the success. Thank you for a powerful truthful blog.
    1190 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10676776
    emoticon on your Voted Featured Blog Post. I enjoyed reading it. Good luck on your fitness and weight management journey. Never give up, press on, push forward and Spark On! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1201 days ago
    Thank you for your awesome blog. It seems you are writting about my own journey.
    1201 days ago
    I know you can do this, it is hard to resist good food, and lazy days but you can do it . You all ready are motivated.
    1201 days ago
    my timeline is about the same as yours - found sparkpeople in 2009, got active in 2012 and hit goal. and then the work began. a few blips, thanks to life getting in the way and those nasty old habits popping up, but all in all the lessons i have learned here are what keep me going as part of the 5%. wonderful blog!
    1201 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1202 days ago
  • DEB9021
    Great blog and great attitude. Life DIES happen, and it's all about being determined and resilient in your response to it. But it's exactly getting through this that will make you a great help to others. You got this!
    1202 days ago
    Hashimotos is so difficult to deal with! I don't necessarily know when the T3 gets out of whack. I enter some kind of fog and struggle mightily. Good for you on your great outlook and stopping the regain!!!
    1203 days ago
    Life happens! We all lose track of things at some point. but you back, stay with it
    1203 days ago
  • DIROB57
    Such an honest and positive blog about the realities of weight loss! I applaud you for telling your story and getting back on track...that is the hardest part isn't it?!
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    I've lost weight on spark before and gained it back so I've got my guard up this go around. I'm at my lowest weight in 4 or 5 years...but that's the rub: I've been here before. Thanks for the reminder that I need to be careful not to let the normal changes life brings derail my desire to maintain what I've lost!
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    Welcome back!

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    1203 days ago
    Your banner headline, "Stay Positive" describes you and your journey despite all that life has thrown at you. BRAVO for overcoming and for sharing your challenges to MAINtenance. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1203 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm still working on my weight loss journey, but you have given me lots to think of - especially the idea that just getting to goal is not the end of the road. Maybe I need to check my "puzzle" pieces and make sure everything is in balance.

    1204 days ago
    I picked up your blog from Watermellen's post. Wow, I am new to maintenance land. Your analogy of the puzzle pieces is incredible. I am recovering from a difficult surgery just after hitting my goal (unrelated). A puzzle piece has changed. I can no longer at the moment, walk fast because of energy strength recovery and a "leftover" regarding my foot. I have to compensate, and move some pieces. Thanks for a tremendous, insightful blog. emoticon
    1204 days ago
    Who knows - maybe this swerve in the road was to pick up that important knowledge you need to be a "real" certified nutritionist ... or a Real Successful Certified Nutritionist.

    In my book - you're a Real Five Percenter.
    1204 days ago
  • LOIS_1950
    My favorite mantra is....a set back is a set up for a come back
    1204 days ago
  • DSJB9999
    Maintenance can be almost harder than losing weight but WE CAN DO IT! It is so worth it!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1204 days ago
  • DESIREE672
    I thought maintenance was easy too, in the early days, but the bad habits creep back and our bodies change, too.

    A very vivid blog! Thank you.
    1204 days ago
    Thank you for this real life, from the heart, blog. Try not to gt hung up in the numbers--I make that mistake way too often. All we can do is make the next right decision and build on it.

    You have fought long and hard-- it may never be "over"--but we have the tools to combat it.

    emoticon & emoticon
    1205 days ago
    What a great blog. I have only been on SP for 2 and 1/2 years. I have lost my weight and struggle with maintaining. I did not realize it would be harder to keep it off than it was to lose it. I do know if I left Spark, I would most likely regain most of it. I need the accountability and the structure to successfully keep the weight off. Right now I am only 5 pounds over my goal which is just 1 pound over my +/- 3%. But I am fighting to get back to goal. My eating habits have changed and I need to get back on track. Your blog has helped and I thank you. Good luck with your new journey. You can do it and so can I.
    1205 days ago
    So glad you are back! Thanks for sharing your great story of overcoming. I also started SP in 2009. I am still struggling from time to time, but maintaining an 80 pound loss after more than 5 decades of obesity. I am aging at age 68. I've had some health challenges. But, like you, I have not quit. Keep trying. That's the key. Keep trying.
    1205 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/18/2018 8:02:23 PM
    Great blog!
    1205 days ago
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    1205 days ago
    You nailed it; when something in the foundation collapses the whole house is in danger of falling down. Some find the challenge and strength of perseverance enough to shore up that rocky base and surge ahead, you are one of them. Thank you for sharing these ideas, you are making awesome lemonade!
    1205 days ago
    I hear you! And I feel,I so understand you because I've traveled down a similar path. So, now let's continue to comfort, cheer, and support each other on Spark.

    I do still consider your story a success. The weight that has not returned is your success, be it 2 lbs or 25 lbs. a relapse perhaps but most definately not failure because you are here working through it.

    No doubt about it...fear is a big factor for me. I was afraid of my failures before ever being inning this last round of initial weightloss. I know that your story could be me again at any point. But we cannot let that hold us back from starting again.

    Small steps back on the road to wise choices for better health and well being! You've got this!

    P.S. Ellen, WATERMELLEN, is a true Spark friend and has a nack for rallying support doesn't she! Yay for Ellen, and You, and Me, and the Spark community! emoticon
    1205 days ago
  • NANCY-
    WATERMELLEN shared a link to your blog. I'm so glad that she did. We all have challenges, but it is how we address those challenges that make a difference. thankfully there is SP and the lovely supportive people here who share their journey. The road has speed bumps, pot holes and detours, we are in the drivers seat.
    1205 days ago
    Such wise words her, no matter where we are in our journey.
    I only recently figured out that my biggest hindrance to weight loss three years ago when my dear man went through a major health crisis and I soothed myself in unhealthy ways, that became bad habits!
    Awareness is the first step of change!
    1205 days ago
    What terrific perspective you have shared!! I especially appreciate your discussion about picking it up and getting back in the fight. You are so right...when we are down, we tend to go for fight or flight and in the case of our health, we must fight! Hashimoto's is not fun, nor is sciatica that I also have. But it won't take us out for good! As long as we have the fight in us, we will do so!
    1205 days ago
    Ellen sent me... with a shout-out in her blog! You know what? If you got an 89% on a test, would you consider yourself a failure? I hope NOT! So you didn't get an A+, you're still a success!

    As one of the people who has maintained a loss for more than five years, and yet still regained PART of the weight, and had to re-lose it, more than once... both before my time here at Spark and even since? I recognize that for me, it's EXACTLY as you describe above... when I don't adjust the puzzle pieces when one changes, I am subject to having to "reset". And here is where the support to do exactly that lives.

    I'd say welcome back (maybe to Spark), but in my book, you've never left. You are a survivor and a success, re-committing to goals that matter to you.

    emoticon emoticon
    1205 days ago
    Wow! Such a terrific message! WATERMELLEN sent me your way and I am so glad she did! We can never give up. We have setbacks for sure, but give up! NEVER! You will make it and you will be an awesome professional nutritionist, or whatever path you decide to take, because you have seen how hard it is to do but you have DONE it. Your future looks very bright to me!
    1205 days ago
    Wow great blog. One of those friend's mentioned your blog so naturally I had to check you out! So glad I did. emoticon
    1205 days ago
    Welcome back,
    and thank you for this insightful blog!
    Congrats to keeping off most of the pounds, and to adjusting your habits for your well-being and happiness!
    1206 days ago
    It's so easy to fall back into those old behaviors, especially when things get rough.

    But you know what to do. And you definitely have the determination.

    And you are truly inspiring!!!
    1206 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon for such a heartfelt blog. Appreciate WATERMELLEN sending me this direction.
    1206 days ago
  • DESIREE672
    At getting on for four years, I've just had my first whole week in overweight. Thank you so much for this. I really needed to read it now.

    You are obviously strong and persistent and you will make it!
    1206 days ago
    1206 days ago
    What all these hardships have given you is a thing called resilience. This will stand you in good stead to take more lemons thrown and make lemonade out of them. I too, have been here since 2009. It was discovering food tracking on Sparkpeople that was the magic bullet, the missing link to finally losing the weight and keeping it off. I helped me to see what a real portion was. Not these over sized bottomless heapings I was used to. I was a vegetarian, but an unhealthy one, eating too much processed. I have kept the weight off eight years this November. I have had multiple surgeries and health incidents, but discovered I didn't have to regain after each one. When my badly damaged right arm was in a sling for a year and I couldn't exercise (the break in the shoulder was too painful and couldn't be secured from grinding), I didn't gain so much as an ounce. It. Is. Possible.
    You can do it!
    1206 days ago
    Welcome back! The journey begins again ... and your persistence will see you through.

    I find your blog so timely. I've been organizing the maintenance challenges along with BAPEARMAN for the At Goal & Maintaining Team since summer 2015, when 4A-HEALTHY-BMI was unable to continue organizing them. Some find the challenges supportive of their efforts. Others do not.

    Like you, I have found the Spark Community to be incredibly supportive. And, the 5% inspire me to remain persistent. I reached the 3-year maintenance mark in June 2017. I have a couple more years to go to reach that 5-year mark. And, I have had my challenges! Have to agree with you that the weight loss is easy and maintenance is more challenging.

    Being a runner, I think of weight loss like a sprint. Maintenance is the long grind of a marathon. Persistence and endurance required.

    I am excited to hear that you have studied nutrition and will bring such valuable experience to your future clients.

    1206 days ago
    Got directed here through Watermellen and how glad I am fo that. Such a hopeful story. So glad to meet you this time around.
    1206 days ago
    The journey begins again . . . and you KNOW how to do what you need to do. You are so very right: the persistence you need is deeply instilled in you and you will keep pushing until you're where you want to be. The difficulties you describe are daunting but you are determined.

    So nice to read such a terrific blog!!
    1206 days ago
    How wonderfully positive! How nice that you have met Spark Friends!
    1206 days ago
    What a wonderful blog! Thank you!
    1206 days ago
    I saw the blog this morning but only had time to peruse it...and I made a conscious note to come back after work and read it slowly and carefully, and I am so glad I did! So true about the ups and downs and how life can get in the way...especially when it throws an orchard of lemons at you like it did! But perseverance, patience, forgiveness, and one I want to add is “resiliency” to your list - they make up a great list that help all of us along the journey! Glad you are back to being more active (as am I) and I look forward to another 9 years or more of Sparking along and (eventually) maintaining together! Onward and downward (as in the scale)

    You got this my friend!!!!!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1207 days ago
    Awesome post!!
    1208 days ago
    Wonderful post. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if it's our success with weight issues and the journey we made that prepares us for those medical/life changes that throw up for a loop. Had we not made the journey, the changes that life threw at us might have been our last.

    Thanks for the great post! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1208 days ago
    Wow, I'm actually in tears. What a beautiful message. Your words were so very powerful. Our ability to maintain our weight does take constant vigilance. But forgiveness is the key to coming back after a "relapse" from any endeavor. For me it is like my sobriety, my marriage, my spiritual fitness, my physical fitness, or any other lifetime commitment~ it's about the honesty, communication, amends, forgiveness, and faith.

    You are such an inspiration. I'm so very glad you are back and ready to give yourself some well deserved love. Big Hug!!!!!!
    1208 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    What a great blog my beautiful friend. This journey is not easy, I agree, losing weight is probably easier because of the feel good feelings, looking better, knowing you are going to only eat a certain amount of everything, and then maintenance begins, and you eat a little looser than before. Food is good, Greek food is exceptional! You are not a failure, as you are still here, thank God that each day is a new day to begin again. This community is the best support system I have ever been part of and I am glad that you are part of my journey.
    Congrats on going back to school and getting your degree in nutrition! You have even more tools to fight this battle with, and I will be there cheering you on and hopefully we will meet in person the next time I visit Greece. Stay Strong! You will win this battle! Big hugs to you!
    1208 days ago
    Thank you for the awesome blog! ! I have never reached the maintenance stage. I' ve been close to my goal and then reverted back to my old ways. Fear maybe? I just want to be healthy and strong.
    1208 days ago
  • no profile photo INCH_BY_INCH
    1208 days ago
    For some reason I find this too true blog comforting; you're telling my story. An 11 year maintainer, 2.5 years ago I was hit with two medical issues; and we still don't know why--no warning. Hoping I have one, the most serious, licked. Possible, I'm sure because I was in good shape to begin with. But the meds took their toll and try as I could I didn't ward off the predicted weight gain. After about a year over goal, I've let go of my "maintenance" status. With almost 100 pounds lost overall, 10 pounds is not such a big deal--and it's not. It's the fear that I will keep gaining that is. I didn't lose my good habits! I lost my strength and stamina; almost overnight. Getting through my days doing just what I could to take care of myself consumed my energy and my exercise dropped to 20% or less of what it had been. I WILL NOT DIET. I make healthy choices. The creep was inevitable; I was never able to maintain a weight loss without exercise. Yes, the journey begins again. My strength and stamina are returning. Life is good. Thank you for being my friend.
    1208 days ago
    Welcone back! I'd like to reframe your (partial) regain as backsliding and not failure. The success is getting motivated to turn things around. What you say is so true "when one puzzle piece changes, all the others need to adjust."
    If you're not a member already, please join us on the "At Goal and Maintaining, and Transition to maintenance" team. We run regular challenges that have helped many of us return to our happy weights.
    1208 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.