,A paragraph into Part 1 on the topic of “maintenance”, I paused and said “I’m going to need to split this up”. Why? Well, there’s just a lot to discuss when it comes to maintenance. A topic many struggle with, yet are provided with little direction.
In Part 1, we identified that maintenance is more or less about a weight range; where you feel your best, perform your best and hey, look pretty awesome too. We discussed how it also has to be realistic and also fit into the context of what you value, as a way to assure long term success. In this section, I would like to discuss how impactful your environment is on your overall success when approaching maintenance.
Environment= people, weather, people, relationships, support, work, friends, people, and yes more people.
Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn famously said “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”. Therefore, if the people you spend most of your time with are optimistic and positive, it’s more likely that their “good vibes only” rubs off on you. You tend to see the brighter side of a mediocre day and begin to adopt a "glass half full" type of mindset. However, on the flip side of that, what if the people in your circle are “workaholics”, fast food junkies and pessimists. Well, you guessed it, you’re more likely to be influenced by their behaviors and habits.
So how does this fit into maintenance?
I would encourage you to pause and ask yourself:
"Are the people I spend the most time with helping me continue with the lifestyle I've adopted?"
If yes, that's great! Finding your support network is something to be really grateful for. However, if you've answer no, continue reading....
Change is hard, and often times change is hard on our relationships. Think of a time, when you or a friend decided to not drink on a night out of town. It’s hard for person A (non drinker) to initiate the conversation, however, it is also hard on Person B, who wants to enjoy a drink, but now feels uncomfortable, alone and in some scenarios judged for ordering a drink. Both parties are now having to navigate through this new change in their interactions. It’s tough, maybe even awkward. It’s a change. And let’s be honest, most of us struggle with change. Learning to use your voice is one of the most underutilized weight loss and maintenance strategies. But, it’s one of the surest ways to continue to be successful for long haul.
In some scenarios, relationships are put to the test. Can they survive this change? Some make it through, while others struggle to adapt to a new dynamic. Neither are "wrong", but nonetheless it's a really difficult transition. Learning to filter your relationships isn't an easy task. As you continue reading, you'll learn how to better navigate through these tougher conversations.
Personally, I grew up with a family that enjoys to be active, and well, it didn’t hurt that we grew up on Oahu, Hawaii, so naturally we spent our days after school playing at the beach or outdoors. Remember, “environment” also includes temperature, ease of access to hikes, walking trails, and parks. Sunny weather and temperate climate helps increase consistency. Those of you who live in harsh weather conditions, may find it harder to stay motivated during the winter (which is perfectly normal. Colder temperatures and the body’s need to survive will subconsciously put you into “hibernation” mode. You’ll crave naps and warm soups. Not salads and early workouts).
My 60 year old Dad still surfs, golfs, and plays tennis. My sister wakes up every morning and runs, swims or surfs. My brother, the same scenario...move, move, move. Our relationship with exercise was driven from convenience to accessible activities (snorkeling, kayaking, bike riding, surfing etc.) and also influenced by our father. Since I was a little girl, I knew of him to check the weather report so he could determine if it was a surf or wind-surfing day. It wasn't a the typical "to exercise or not exercise" mindset. It was more or less, Option A? Or Option B today? Having a family that craves movement has helped me to also crave the same thing. The Chang’s just love to move.
My Older sister, Mari. My younger brother, Ethan. My Dad and Myself.
Well, I’m sure some of you are now thinking “well great, I’m the only active one. It’s not like I can just get a new family”. You’re right, let’s keep the family you have and let’s work with what you got:
Step 1: Communication. You’ll want to be sure to communicate to the 3-5 people you spend the most time with about your goals, especially as you approach maintenance (you may find many people feel like you just go back to “normal”. However, you may need to be more strategic about incorporating flexibility- this will be in Part 3). Let them know that you’re still fine tuning things and would love their support (I have found that helping identify how they can support you is really beneficial for both parties. Ex. Choosing specific restaurants or swapping drinks at a bar for an evening walk). The intention is to simply keep them informed and in the loop.
Step 2: Assert yourself. Yes, this is SO much easier to read and write than to actually do. I hear you. But, learning to assert your needs is a useful tool as you enter maintenance. If your current plan didn’t have you drinking during the week, it’s best to approach social gatherings with caution. Enjoy a drink (if that’s what you want), but stand your ground if you don’t want more than one. It’s okay to speak up. It’s when we don’t speak up, that we’re left feeling frustrated and jeopardize maintenance.
Step 3: Find a Community. Find more people you can interact with that are living the life you want to lead. You’ll more likely end up taking on their energy, habits, perspectives. So yes, go out and seek interactions that fill you up, keep you motivated and inspire you. I'd suggest trying out new hobbies that spark your interest: salsa dance classes, tennis leagues, frisbee leagues etc. You may also want to look into Meetup.com.
Step 4: Declutter Social Media. I would like for you to go through your social media right now. Unfollow every person that’s message, photo or profile isn’t aligning with your goals, values and mindset. The five people we spend the most time with, can also include our phones and our social media interactions. So go on, and unfollow. On the flip side of that, you may also want to go out and FOLLOW accounts that better suit you.
Step 5: Assess your environment. Which pockets of your world are not conducive to your long term goals? Is it the snack corner (we all have them)? How can you do a better job of reorganizing areas of your life that contribute to maintenance? How can we make this new lifestyle easier on you? Maybe is putting the snacks away. Maybe it’s keeping your shoes out in the living room. Maybe it’s making sure you have an accountability buddy. Start creating your life, in the way you want to live it.
Step 6: Fail, Make Mistakes, and Try Again. A large part of maintenance is making mistakes. Experimenting with having one too many nights eating out, where you’re then left feeling lethargic and unmotivated. Ok, no problem. Readjust, eat out one night less and re-evaluate. Expect yourself to hit bumps and remind yourself that this is an ongoing experiment and it’s more than okay if you fail more than once.
Life really is an ongoing experiment and the experimenting shouldn’t stop when we reach maintenance. I would encourage you to keep the experimental lens on, identify your social circle and engage in tough conversations. It's a new transition. Be patient.