So how does WKIO approach maintenance? After eight years of misunderstandings and criticisms, and especially given we address such a complicated issue as obesity and weight management, we wanted a space to — in no uncertain terms — lay out what we discuss on WKIO, what we don’t, and why.
Maintaining is a separate-but-related animal from weight loss, and it’s misleadingly difficult. Looking across most National Weight Control Registry research will reveal little-to-no-uniformity for *how* people lost weight. And yet they all deal with the same aspects of weight loss. Researchers are beginning to distinguish behaviors of maintainers from dieters.
WKIO is ambivalent about which diet is most effective. Yes, we know you have research saying one of our community members “did it wrong.” We can throw a few contradictory studies your way too, Mr. Know It All. Scientific research is essential, but this community in particular has suffered when science is misused. And frankly, even leading maintenance researchers admit the research hasn’t progressed to make any definitive claims toward one diet method being more effective for long-term weight maintenance.
Until those hard-working scientists have time to catch up to us, WKIO is your first line of defense in determining what to do with your life in the meantime. And what does “keeping weight off” actually entail? And where can there be a frank and optimistic conversation about the final phases of weight loss?
If dieting was a getting your Fat Bachelor’s Degree, WKIO is Fat Graduate School.
Often at WKIO we’ll discuss the Significance of Weight Maintenance and the Mechanics of Weight Maintenance. The mechanics are the metrics — how you eat, what you eat and when, how you exercise (if you do), the “real world” aspect to keeping weight off. The significance involves the emotional, sociological and psychological aspects of maintenance — making a life that’s worth it and the internal struggles that make managing the metrics to difficult. Most resources focus on the mechanics of weight loss, or the significance. WKIO focuses on neither, but instead how those two influence each other, and living your life while balancing real world needs with the existential dilemmas weight loss can create.
Another common WKIO theme is Playing Both Sides Against Your Middle, or comparing extremes and finding the sweet spot. The empirical route may work for some things, while a humanistic view serves others. Usually we found if you have a challenge, adopting your usual approach usually brings stellar results. As smart-alecky as it sounds: if someone is telling you your goals are impossible, best not to adopt their approach. Social theorists call what we maintainers do as emergence: combining seemingly contradictory elements into a new paradigm for living. We’re interested in, pun totally intended, the big picture.
WKIO adamantly stands for positivism and joy — because we’ve lived the worst of obesity, seen our way through it, and won’t tolerate anything but the best for each other. Social theorists and psychologists often link obesity to bullying, neglect and isolation, sexual abuse, poverty and/or affluence and a host of human indignities. Nutritionists and personal trainers often focus solely on the basic physical functions of weight loss.
Combine those with the changing day-to-day media representations of size acceptance, body image and fat prejudice and where people who’ve lost weight and work as much as maintaining fit into that (or often don’t).
Because we’ve lived the reality of juggling all those element at once, it provides a unique point of view. Our work is bright and silly, and our recipes are “fabulous” in the face of confronting many difficult physical tasks and hard emotional truths.
We don’t shy away from any of it — the brightest or the darkest consequences of weight loss. We had to take all of that on our own. It’s our commitment that no one should have to.
Also, the reality of an experience is something we discuss often here. The reality of “changing your lifestyle” can hit hard: as surely as it’s exhilarating, it can also be destabilizing, disillusioning and overwhelming — often at the same time. The good news is this: with a willingness to explore and choose your options, you build a life which provides a reason to keep weight off, not just the means.
In terms of differences between maintenance and weight loss, Russ usually explains it such: “Weight loss, in the strictest sense, is the science of someone telling you what to eat and how to move; Maintenance, is more the art of making your own answers in real time, adjusting to circumstance — the art of becoming just like everyone else who doesn’t have ‘a weight problem.'” It’s a common trend among maintainers in the current environment — regardless of personality or lifestyle differences, we all tend to be staunch individualists. That individualism was a by-product of having few resources and less understanding available for this phase of weight loss.
That’s why WKIO is important to us, and we hope you also: to introduce a widespread concept of community for people who’ve worked mind, soul and especially body to have the best out of life. Equal parts cheerleaders, champions, bodyguards and life rafts, WKIO exists to make you receive your proper reward for your hard work — even if life doesn’t hand you a sandwich advertisement deal. We fight for the good stuff here — sometimes literally.