Tomorrow I'll hit my first anniversary of maintenance. That's a milestone I'm not sure I ever thought I'd achieve until suddenly it came looming up on me. Why didn't I think I'd make it? Well, firstly because I was never entirely convinced I'd get to maintenance. Losing 100lb sounded almost impossibly hard, and hearing all those stories of people who struggle with the first pounds, or the middle pounds or especially the last pounds, I thought that setting my goal 8lb below a BMI of 24.9 was asking for trouble in getting there.
And secondly, I'd heard all the statistics about regain. About people who take the weight off and then put it back on again, and then some. The thought of lifelong maintenance was daunting, and the thought of even doing it for a year without the weekly payback of seeing the scales moving scared me. And as for looking beyond a year, let's just say that I didn't do that.
But day after day, month after month, I've just kept on doing the simple things, moving more and eating better, and the year has ticked by. There hasn't even been a small spell of falling off the wagon, a month or six weeks, it's been consistent and it's been steady. I've lost another 10lb that, in all honesty, I didn't need to lose but am not complaining about. But that would come way down my list of achievements for the past year underneath things like running a marathon, overcoming my fear of cross country and expanding my vegetable eating capacity beyond belief.
The past year has been funny though. I'm not sure I quite have the maintenance mindset yet. I seem to waver almost daily between "I'd really like to just lose a pound or two more" and "I'm thin enough anyway so a piece of flapjack won't hurt". They even themselves out, the exercise helps, and overall the balance is right, but I'd love to be in a place where I'm actually happy with my weight and not constantly switching how I feel about my body.
I am starting to get more used to my size. When I'm shopping I tend to head for the right size things, and I can't believe the size of the clothes that I used to fail miserably to fit into. I can take a 10 into the changing rooms without feeling like the assistant is going to laugh at my optimism. (Indeed, I have been known to accidentally try on 8s on the wrong hanger and be surprised at how well they fit). I don't feel obliged to buy something simply because it fits and doesn't look awful, and I've become a lot more discerning in deciding what actually suits me and what I'll wear. Admittedly what I wear is mainly exercise gear, but at least I get value from it. I don't get the same thrill as I did from walking into a normal shop and trying something on in a teeny size, but that's probably good for my bank balance. It's also quite nice not having to buy new clothes every couple of weeks because they are too big, maintenance is letting me buy stuff that I'll actually get some wear out of!
I'm happier about walking through small gaps without feeling like I need more room to get through. I can even run through some of the narrow tapering at the top gates they put at entrances to parks to stop bikes going through without worrying about my shoulders getting stuck. I wriggle about in plane seats (even the ones with the trays in the armrests), and people sit next to me on the bus because I don't spill over onto two seats. I have a more accurate perception of how much space I take up.
I also feel more like a "proper runner" and less of a "fat person pretending to run". Joining a proper running club has changed my outlook more than I thought it would. For one thing, the people there only know me as one of the fast female group. They don't know how I got to a stage where I can keep up (just!) with that group, and they don't think of me as anything other than a decent runner. That's so liberating. It pushes me on, because I can't make excuses like "well, I might not be amazingly fast but look how well I've done to even get here". Instead, I've lost any preconceptions about how fast I might be able to go, and I want to train well and see if I can get there. It's hard to believe that there are people out there who I count as friends who have rarely seen me in anything other than buttock hugging lycra and who haven't had nightmares after seeing it! I've realised that running clubs are for people of my level, and pulling on that club vest, or my club hoodie reminds me that I'm one of the team, and a valued member of the team at that. When I first joined I was a bit unsure about representing a place that didn't mean a huge amount to me, but I'm so proud of my vest and my team now.
Food wise, things are good. I'm eating pretty much what I want, when I want, without unnecessary bingeing and without spending my life feeling hungry. Sometimes I worry that my diet could be cleaned up a bit, without so many unplanned trips to the vending machine and without so much evening snacking. But it doesn't do me any harm, I'm at a weight I'm comfortable with, so why get worked up about it? If those snacks aren't causing me to gain and aren't horribly unhealthy (the late night ones tend to be handfuls of dried fruits, bowls of greek yoghurt and muesli or slices of wholemeal toast - calorific, but not horrendously artery clogging), then why worry too much about them? If I do start to gain at least it will give me a couple of easy targets to stop the process as soon as possible!
The balance is pretty much right, it seems, and I now doing have any fear about carrying on doing the same things for another year. If I want to run Amsterdam in October and FLM next year I don't have much choice anyway!
Hitting the one year mark has also led me to think about a couple of things that I tried not to think about while I was losing. The first, big, one is surgery. I always said that I wouldn't even think about it until I'd been at a stable weight for a year or more. Well, here I am, is it time to start considering it now? On balance, probably not. Yes, my stomach is a bit looser than it could (should?) be at this weight, and if I don't wear a padded bra my boobs don't exist, but does it bother me enough to be worth spending a lot of money on them, and having to give up running while I recover? No. I'd rather get a padded bra for a couple of quid from Primark and spend several thousand pounds on a new car or a new kitchen or that holiday of a lifetime to Australia that I've had pencilled in for years. And anyway, at least I can run without having to worry about getting a black eye!
I say that surgery was the big one, but maybe the second one is the more fundamental, life shaping one. Where am I now in terms of my sexuality? I still see myself as predominantly asexual, but very much in an "asexual for now" sense rather than "this is permanent and will never change" sense. I'm not actively trying to change who I am, but I'm not going to feel betrayed if my feelings start to change. I'm happy to be relaxed about things and see what happens. Losing weight alone didn't unlock that door to feeling more comfortable about the thought of doing that sort of thing, but maybe it's part of a jigsaw that will one day unlock that side of me. The key to that is finding the right person. It's hard to know what I'd do in a hypothetical situation, and while I'm not looking I'm not ruling out being found either.
And the future, what else does that hold? More of the same, I guess. I want to try more activities, do the three peaks walk in the Dales, try horse riding (now I won't permanently cripple the horses), gorge walking, parachute jumping. I want to live life rather than just surviving through it. I want to run, now, next year and after that. I want to carry on eating healthy food because why would I eat stuff that isn't healthy and doesn't taste as good anyway? I want this to be the real, permanent me, and to spend more of my adult life as an active, fit person than I did as an obese one. I want to hit 30 fitter than I was when I was 20. I want obesity to be a distant memory rather than something I'm constantly fighting against. I want to do this because I want to rather than because it's something I have to do. I want to be this person, not the person I was.
And the most important thing I realised when I was writing this post? The thought of doing this for the rest of my life doesn't scare me any more. What scares me is the thought of not doing it.