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Me Minus 10: Finally reaching 'there'

Bethesda-based nutrition and fitness guru Pam Peeke has offered me invaluable advice about "removing" -- not just losing -- weight throughout my Me Minus 10 campaign to lose 10 pounds before I turn 50 in December. As I write in today's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, I have achieved that goal (and then some.) She wrote this guest blog in response to my question: Once you've reached your weight-loss goal, how do you proceed from there?

One day you say to yourself, "I'm done. I've had it with the belly rolls and the stand-up-only-jeans bursting at the seams. I will shed this excess fat and live the life I deserve." Fueled with dogged determination and a laser focus, you set out to change up your nutrition and get more physically active. You seek out credible guidance and write down a strategy for achieving a fitter, healthier body. You whip out your tape measure and start a record of your body's start points. For months you slug it out, trying to make the right decisions, sometimes slipping and sliding into old habits, but eventually learning to regroup to continue the journey. You endure endless "o'dark hundred" early-morning workouts, pass up extra helpings, and walk away from tempting party desserts.

Throughout all, you keep telling yourself "I'm almost there" and press on.

Then, it happens. You wake up and discover something amazing. The day you've been dreaming about, worked so hard for, has finally arrived. You step on the scale, you hop into your cool jeans and tuck-in shirt. You stare at yourself in the mirror. You can't believe it. You're there.

But, what does this mean? How does life change? How do you know you're really there?

Just what is "there"? To help you understand, I've created some rules of the "there" road:

What "there" is not:

  1. A reason to stop doing what you did to reach there in the first place. The biggest mistake people make once they achieve their goal is to say "Wow, I'm normal. Now I can eat anything I want." Wrong. You're actually a New Normal. Your Old Normal is what got you into trouble in the first place. Your New Normal is what you've been dreaming about. remember that the grass may be greener on the other body-weight side, but you still have to mow it. Nothing is ending. Yes, you do look fitter. But you still have to do your cardio, lift weights, take that yoga or pilates class, stay active and choose stairs instead of the elevator. You're a smaller size. But you still have to be vigilant about food quality and quantity. Never forget that the mode you chose to remove your excess weight is the same one you continue for a lifetime to sustain that success. That's why fad diets never work.
  2. A guarantee that your life's problems will now be solved. There is not Nirvana. If you've been lonely, neither Brad Pitt nor Miss America are suddenly going to show up at your front door. If you can't stand your job, a new one is not going to fall into your lap. The reality is that you have become physically fitter and healthier. That's wonderful. Let's hope you've been working on your mental fitness as well. Buff up that resume and join a dating service. You're ready. Feeling better about yourself will give you the courage and self esteem to now get out there and fulfill your life and make your dreams happen.

What "there" is:

  1. A realistic body weight and composition achieved through sustainable, healthy lifestyle habits. A reasonable "there" is one in which you are addressing both medical and emotional needs. Medically, you are out of the red zone with regard to disease and disability risks due to being overweight and obesity. Emotionally, you're happy with your appearance.
  2. A source of pride, accomplishment and celebration. Your quest has great sports analogies. Like finishing a marathon, you know how much work you did and how far you've come. And you feel proud of your efforts and will joyfully celebrate your triumph. And, you know, like the marathoner, that the next morning you're back at it, continuing your self care.
  3. A motivation to challenge yourself to achieve more "theres." You're now fit and lighter on your feet. Now what? How about doing those things you never could do before (e.g. take that hiking vacation) and set new goals to reach new "theres" that are born of your New Normal? And, once you achieve these, there are more waiting for you. Each new "there" keeps you focused on personal growth, which you want to do for the rest of your life.
  4. The bottom line is that with everything worth doing in life, from raising a family, to achieving a successful career, to dropping excess pounds and getting healthier, life is filled with an infinite number of theres. Embrace and celebrate each one. Never stop. Use each "there" as a milestone to fuel your next one. That's how you build a powerful foundation for a healthy lifestyle and sustain success for a lifetime. And, that's a whole lot of triumphs and celebrations waiting for you...there.

Pam Peeke MD, MPH, FACP, is assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of "Fight Fat after Forty" and other fitness and healthy-lifestyle books.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  July 8, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Blogger , Me Minus 10 , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity  
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