Starting (and Keeping) A Thing: Maintenance

I’ve been vastly better at keeping up with my thing than I have been writing about my thing, but as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing this with all of you, if I had to choose between the two I’d choose remaining consistent with my stretching (sorry)!

Six weeks ago I started “Start a Thing” for myself and invited all of you to join in along with me in taking steps to do something good for ourselves. I chose to start to incorporate a stretching program into my training to try to improve flexibility and hopefully prevent injury. My incremental six week plan looked like this:

Week 1 – at least two stretches after two training sessions + 1 Yoga DVD
Week 2 – two stretches after three training sessions + 1 Yoga DVD
Week 3 – two stretches after all (four) training sessions + 1 Yoga DVD
Week 4 – three stretches after all training sessions + 1 Yoga DVD
Week 5 – three stretches after all training sessions + 2 Yoga DVDs
Week 6 – maintenance (the real challenge begins!)

Aside from a slip-up or two early on, I’ve been successful and now honestly look forward to stretching at the end of each of my training sessions. It feels so good, it’s almost like a reward for working hard. I’m not quite so fond of the Yoga, but typically I find once I get started, I’m enjoying it and it’s only 20-25 minutes (I can suck it up).

I will say that even though I enjoy it and it feels like a reward, there have been days that once done with my training I’ve been wiped out and really had to talk myself into keeping with the stretching routine. I believe that is a normal part of “maintenance” of any type of activity – there are times that whatever it is you’re trying to do is just hard, or you simply “don’t wanna.”

First, it’s ok to say “I don’t wanna.”

Second, too bad – just do it.

You worked hard to get to where you are, slipping up once in a while due to circumstance is inevitable, but don’t get into the habit of throwing up your hands in a moment of “I don’t wanna.” Dig deep and make the hard choice to say ‘no thanks’ to dessert, to get up and go for a walk or head to the gym, to go to bed on time or avoid the snooze button in the morning. If you find yourself hesitating, think about the completion of whatever it is you don’t want to do. How will you feel when you’ve done it versus if you just choose to throw in the towel on it?  Even if it’s a small act, it’s the act of mental strength that’s important…”Today, right now I make the choice to do this because even though I don’t want to, and even though it would be easy to walk away from, I know it’s in my best interest.”

I’ve been in weight loss maintenance for nearly 5 years now, and I still face this. Some people may not want to hear the truth in that, but I’m always truthful here, and the fact is that there are times that making that choice feels like a prison sentence (particularly when it comes to “doing cardio”). It feels unfair, it feels hard, it feels just like many moments when I was still actively losing weight (when it was hard then). Most of the time, I can talk myself through those moments. I visualize how I’ll feel making the better choice, knowing it’s in my best interest.  That comes from practice – continually making the choice when it’s hard builds your mental strength just like lifting weights to increase muscle strength.  Then there are the other moments when, quite frankly, it all makes me want to throw my hands up and walk away. Honestly, it’s a bit like a temper tantrum a child might hold when she can’t get her way. Those are the times I call on a friend (or five) that understand that feeling, but that can help me to remember and appreciate the distance I’ve come and how very worth it ALL of it is, and how much I’d regret walking away. Sometimes, they’re the hard voice or reality too – the reminder to just do it, this moment will pass and in the end it’s just the right choice. Period.

Maintenance is hard, but it is not impossible. Practice, patience, and accountability – the same things that were vital to making the initial change remain vital in maintaining that change. Comment here or on Facebook and let me know how you’ve been doing with your thing, and let’s keep it going by making the choice, even when it’s hard.


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