The Secrets of Successful Maintainers

I always wonder why so many people start out with such determination and a great attitude, but end up back in their old patterns of poor eating. Why is it so hard to be successful at this long term? Obviously, if I had a magic secret, I’d be a millionaire. I’m not. I do have some thoughts, though, having been a part of several LC forums, and having observed fellow maintainers. Here are some traits I notice among most successful maintainers:

  • Self-education and open-mindedness. Most maintainers have read several books, take part in discussions, and experiment with different ideas, plans, and foods. I believe in being armed with different strategies: you don’t absolutely have to follow one author’s plan strictly, 100% of the time. This is reflected in my paleo-ish seasonal eating. I know what I have to do when the variety of foods available to me changes.
  • Know thyself. Almost all maintainers can tell you a lot about their own bad habits, limitations, and their bodies. Be honest with yourself about your food issues. One of my favorite mottoes is, “deal with the way things are, not the way you wish they were.” Accept that some people can get away with doing things you won’t be able to do.
  • Recognizing that whatever problems lead us to be overweight and/or carb-addicted will always be there. Whatever you do to get thin and/or solve other diet-related problems, you will have to do for the rest of your life. Recognize that the journey never ends, not even when you reach a goal weight. If you go back to eating the way you used to, you will regain the old problems. I know this is obvious on the intellectual level, but you really have to get it to sink in deep. You have to get your pouty inner two-year-old to believe it!
  • Successful maintainers both find a plan that works, and work the plan. Part of the experimenting is finding something that fits into your lifestyle, but we also have to be willing to make necessary sacrifices for success. There’s a balance. You can find foods you enjoy while being realistic about how different foods affect you.
  • Shifting priorities. No matter how busy we are, we long-haulers learned to shift our priorities so that nutrition is near the top. This investment of time and money always pays off! Everything and everyone in your life benefits when you need less sleep, have more energy, your depression/diabetes/other illnesses are under control, you have fewer colds, and you’re just generally a better “you”. You can’t give to others if your own “gas tank” is empty.
  • Letting go of the mourning. Most newbie LCers go through a bit of grief, almost mourning the food they’re leaving behind. There’s a feeling of frustration, deprivation, that it’s “not fair”. This is normal, but it’s important to learn to let go and embrace the amazing food we ARE eating. Successful maintainers are in love with their food.

What do you consider important for long-term compliance and success?

8 Responses

  1. I am a trainer at Crossfit One World and we are in the middle of a Paleo challenge and wanted to print off the post and make it available for others at my gym. Do you mind? Of course I would give you credit.

  2. Be my guest – I’m flattered!

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