I open the attic storage area door and weasel my way through the crawlspace.
On my knees and reaching over boxes of clothing and piles of luggage, I see the suitcase I’m looking for and attempt to heave it out into the bedroom without knocking my head on the ceiling, or jutting my foot through the insulation on the floor.
As I pull the suitcase out of the attic, it flies open and a few papers float down towards my feet.
What a cute little ribbon at the top, what is this?
I pick up the papers, and memories start to flow as it all registers.
Keepsakes from our trip to Montana last year.
Exactly one year ago.
These were our dinner menus, outlining every fabulous, decadent morsel of food we indulged in each night.
Oh, I wish I was there!
We are actually staying closer to home for vacation this year, driving instead of flying, and the reason I went to the attic in the first place was because I need to start packing, we are leaving soon!
I sit down on my bed with the menus, trying to picture myself there today.
That trip to Montana brings back amazing memories.
And the food, a definite highlight.
Last year, I threw food worries to the wind, you know, because it was vacation.
And tried to combat the decadent meals with lots of morning walks and some exercises on the deck of our cabin.
Once home, I definitely had trouble getting back to realistic eating habits, and learning how to right-size portions.
I most definitely gained weight.
I was stressed out at the time, and remember writing about it.
Hoping I could right this wrong within a few weeks.
But what I have learned since last year, is there were no wrongs.
It would be unrealistic to ignore delicious foods like this all week.
It would be unrealistic to not expect a little weight gain on vacation.
It would be unrealistic and unhealthy to starve myself when I return home, to quickly lose the weight.
And I shouldn’t get mad at myself.
Because this is Normal. This is living a good, happy, balanced life. This is to be expected.
Once home, back on routine, when I’m patient.
Those jeans will be comfortable again.
Do you find your weight changes seasonally?
My weight tends to go up a bit in the summer, when my routine is interrupted with vacations and travel, and there are so many amazing seasonal foods and farmer’s markets to attend.
And in the summer, I like more freedom, less structure in my workout routine.
And then I usually get more lean when it gets a little chillier and I enjoy the challenge of working out indoors.
It sounds like my normal might be backwards compared to many, who tend to gain weight in the winter months with all the comfort foods, and cold weather.
When I realized this was the case a few months ago, that weight fluctuates up and down seasonally and that it’s not the end of the world, I stopped getting mad at myself. Stopped striving for perfection all year long.
And just this tiny change in expectation and acceptance, has made a world of difference in how I see myself, and judge my success while maintaining my health long-term.
Now that I’m feeling super-comfortable in my skin.
Cutting myself some slack.
Understanding my personal rhythms.
I read something super-frustrating.
Maybe you saw it? There was a study posted this month by the CBC entitled: Obesity research confirms long-term weight loss almost impossible.
The report basically says, barring a few exceptions, we will all gain weight. And if we try to lose it, we’ll just gain it back again.
It’s pretty much inevitable.
Only about 5% of people can “maintain” their weight loss.
Here’s an excerpt:
For psychologist Traci Mann, who has spent 20 years running an eating lab at the University of Minnesota, the evidence is clear. “It couldn’t be easier to see,” she says. “Long-term weight loss happens to only the smallest minority of people.”
We all think we know someone in that rare group. They become the legends — the friend of a friend, the brother-in-law, the neighbour — the ones who really did it.
But if we check back after five or 10 years, there’s a good chance they will have put the weight back on. Only about five per cent of people who try to lose weight ultimately succeed, according to the research. Those people are the outliers, but we cling to their stories as proof that losing weight is possible.
This also states that doctors don’t want this news to get out to the general public because people will stop trying:
Health experts are also afraid people will abandon all efforts to exercise and eat a nutritious diet — behaviour that is important for health and longevity — even if it doesn’t result in much weight loss.
Traci Mann says the emphasis should be on measuring health, not weight. “You should still eat right, you should still exercise, doing healthy stuff is still healthy,” she said. “It just doesn’t make you thin.”
As you can imagine, from my experience over the last few years, learning to maintain my weight loss after pregnancy, learning to accept myself, and navigate all the different life variables thrown at me each day, as well as the mental baggage that comes with trying to make sense of it all.
I read this report and learn my happily fluctuating weight approach, the one helping me stay sane and normal might put me in the failure category.
I don’t blame doctors for not wanting it publicized they think 95% of us are failures. If they are going to allow this information out, they should have given us all better details on what constitutes success, and good health. Not just a flashy headline, ensuring a great number of people will give up trying.
Every adult I know has made attempts to lose weight at some point in their life.
Men and Women.
I see success around me, every day. and it’s not that I live in a colony of outliers, as they describe this 5% who succeed, it’s because the definition of success and failure is not as black and white as they describe.
What defines success in this study?
Do we have to stay within a certain weight range? And for how long? Or do we have to stay on one number forever?
What if someone loses 50 lbs but then gains 10 back? Is she a failure, because she gained some back? Or a success because she maintained this for 10 years?
I have gained 8 pounds in the last 2 years but still fit into the same clothing, This is due to weight lifting–am I part of the 5% who is a healthy size or one of the 95% who can’t sustain weight loss?
What if you gain weight, maybe that same 10 pounds, going up and down periodically but are still considered healthy by your doctor? Are you a failure because you can’t sustain weight loss?
Scales fluctuate all the time, sometimes daily. Sometimes hourly…no wonder this report says it’s impossible to succeed!
I’m not going to listen to the headlines.
Whatever we do to keep ourselves active is good for our heart. Our bodies. Our flexibility. Our minds. Our disposition. Our energy-level.
And the food we eat? We lead social lives and sometimes, like on vacation, we shouldn’t have to worry about some number on the scale staying the same, all day, every day.
Much of the time, yes?
But all the time? I don’t see how this is possible.
If someone is told to lose weight for their health, any amount of loss achieved is worth it. Even if they might gain a little back here and there because there is more to life, and more to good health, than that fluctuating number.
And there is much more wiggle room than the headlines reveal.
Anyone who strives to keep their health top-of-mind, can be labelled a success.
It’s not a myth. It’s not impossible.
Unless defined in a short-sited way.
On that note, it’s time for me to get back to that suitcase and let the packing begin.
The Montana menus will go in a scrapbook for now; I’ll have to trade them in for fried clams down on the beach next week instead. And perhaps leave the jeans at home in lieu of more roomy skirts…
Let the summer begin!
How do you handle the balance of fun foods and staying healthy during vacation? Do you find your weight fluctuates seasonally too? What do you think about this study on long-term weight loss, is it impossible? What strategies do you use to keep yourself in check throughout the year?
Would love to hear your ideas and discussion….and happy summer!