Lose, Gain, Maintain - The Weight Loss Game
People can yo-yo in their weight and be unable to identify how they have moved positions in the weight loss game. The easiest rule may be, "lose a turn," or total abstinence from food. That’s how the tobacco habit is often kicked. However, people cannot stop eating. Nourishment is necessary to life. How can a person realize they have "taken two steps backward" before the scales reveal the move?
Game Clues and Eating Game MovesThere are three game moves by which people interact with food. They are either (1) dieting and therefore losing (advance one space), (2) rewarding themselves for maintaining a healthy weight (buy Park Avenue), or (3) they are gaining (go back two spaces).
When one moves away from the eating game rules they have chosen, they have changed their outcome. To pretend advancement while going backward is to eat unhealthily. There are three game moves for relating to food. Recognizing them and the rules that go with them lead to positive eating.
No Cookie - Game Move = AdvanceIn order to lose weight, one must choose a winning eating program. The term "diet" is not used because most people see a diet as a temporary strategy that one plays for a short time, then they demand a re-deal. A positive loser chooses a game that will teach them how to select and prepare healthy food. Issues such as diabetes are acknowledged, menus and moves are adjusted.
The successful eating game would be a well-balanced hand and the key rule is near abstinence from cookies. "Near" is used in this context because a successful eating game allows for an occasional treat in moderation. The key to successful weight loss is to remember that the cookie is not part of the playing rules. It is only a non-habitual reward or special treat.
One Cookie - Maintain WeightAfter a healthy goal weight has been achieved, there follows a lifetime of the game move – maintenance. Remember, the eating game continues to be played, now with alternate rules. Some have difficulty identifying how the new moves of healthy eating are played. How does one maintain weight when they have no idea what maintenance looks like?
Think of maintenance as a continuation of the healthy eating game that facilitated the weight loss, with a few small additions. The key word here is "small." Most people are successful at weight loss when they actually know what they are eating. They plan their meals and choose a balanced variety of tasty foods each day. Because many people do not have a natural habit of healthy food choices, they must deliberately choose them. That is done by planning and adhering to the game of balanced calories, points, or exchanges.
The beginning of maintenance usually establishes the number of calories or other measurement that will stop weight loss and still not prompt weight gain. One can become discouraged by a small weight gain at this point while their balance point is established.
Discouragement can lead to "game over" if one doesn’t see this time as a valuable point in the establishment of healthy eating as the maintenance calories are identified. This often can include an occasional cookie.
Three Cookies - Go Back One - Gain WeightWhen one cookie leads to three or four, day after day, that is when a feeling of failure leads to weight gain, discouragement follows, and all-or-none thinking takes over. "I knew I’d gain it all back. I always do."
At that point, the game move must be a return to "home" – no cookie. For a while that means nothing additional at all, since how to maintain has not been established. One cannot return to move two, maintenance, with a closer adherence to the rules with an occasional cookie or other treat. How many cookies are too many have not been established. Again, at this point, step away from the cookie jar and go back to "start."
Winning the Loser GameNever see these weight fluctuations as failures. They are learning opportunities. As long as the game rules are quickly applied, success is applauded. When goal weight has been reestablished, maintenance is put into place again. It may be that a healthy weight can only be maintained, and the game enjoyed, by alternating between the loss position and a week or month of maintenance, as needed by the individual. Successful game play will determine the duration of each of the alternate rules of the rotation.
That’s not failure. That’s playing and winning the game using rules that fit the individual’s style. The ability to move smoothly around the game board, enjoying each set of alternating rules, calls for rejoicing. The secret to weight maintenance has been found.