Quilts and Maintaining

Okay, its a stretch, but hear me out.

When I go to the quilt show, I go primarily to see all the beautiful quilts.  To be inspired by their beauty, creativity, and workmanship.  But after I’ve been there for just a little while, I can start to get overwhelmed by the intricacy of the work. It is pretty common for the quilts nowadays to be very heavily quilted–microquilted, I just heard it called.  Here is an example of one of the quilts I really liked.  Pretty typical quilting.  Believe it or  not, some have even more threadwork on them.

And the thing is, I am never going to do this.  I know me.  I know how I work.  Too many ideas, too many colors in the world, to work continuously on one quilt long enough to do that type of work.  I could start to feel bad about myself.  But I don’t.  I just remind myself that I do a different type of quilting.  Tiny stitches do not necessarily equal beauty and value.

That is why I was particularly interested to see this next quilt at the show, hung in a place of honor, having won an award for something like ‘most innovative quilting.’  Most innovative quilting!  at a show FILLED with quilts COVERED in the most beautiful painstaking tiny stitches.  Again, this is not exactly something that I would do myself (can anybody say “not enough color?”) but still it was nice to see that there was room for ‘different’ in this major quilt show.

So that’s a little how I feel about deciding to maintain at 168 pounds.  Rather unusual in this bloggy weight loss/fitness/maintenance world.  Its way over my BMI.  Way over my W.W. goal weight (duh, they use the BMI charts.)  Its pretty ‘heavy’ for a five foot tall woman.

But after writing the last time about this, I thought a little more, especially about some of the comments you all made.  And I decided to see what it would be like to change the way I was thinking.  To actually think “My goal is to maintain my weight at 168 pounds.”

I like it, for the most part.  I didn’t change the way I ate.  I still eat mostly clean, whole foods, foods that I have prepared myself.  I still plan my meals ahead of time.  I still eat minimal sugar and wheat.  I still try to wait until I am hungry to eat, and try not to eat to ‘overfull.’

I still exercise just as much.   When I have time, I exercise a lot.   Its weird that I don’t really say/think that I love exercise.  But I miss it when I don’t have time to do a lot.  I’ve gotten used to multiple walks a day, and when I don’t get to the gym for a while, I really miss it.

But here’s the part I guess I am working on the most.  Changing the way I identify myself.   I’m having a hard time trying to come up with the right words.  Something along the lines of ‘an older woman who is overweight but still reasonably attractive, who exercises not in the hopes that her body shape will change or become smaller, but to stay strong and healthy and flexible and mobile.’ Oh.  And who has a normal BP, cholesterol level, and blood sugar level.  Reminds me of the song “I Don’t Want Much, I Just Want More .”

Even without a TV, its hard not to compare yourself with the ‘American ideal.’  I still have thoughts sometimes about being thinner [and younger…]  But just like my quilting, my body can be different but just as good.

I spent a bit of time yesterday reviewing information in a couple of books, both written by doctors.  I don’t agree with everything they said, but by and large, they present a lot of good information about long-term  weight loss maintenance.  The first was ‘Refuse to Regain’ by Dr. Barbara Berkeley.  In her chapter on metabolism, she writes that your metabolism is mostly a function of three things:  your size, your age, and your sex.  Yes, your metabolism was faster when you were heavier, just by virtue of the fact that you were larger.  And yes, your metabolism slows down as you age (bahhh!)  And your sex just because men have generally a bigger muscle mass than women.  (A very good reason for us ‘older women’ to work out with heavy weights.)   Then she says this:

Most POWs (previously over weight) do not take their new, smaller body size into account after a diet.  They generally don’t realize that this new body is going to need lots fewer calories to run.  While most post-dieters try to eat healthier, they don’t significantly reduce calories when compared to what they ate before. This is one of the major reasons they regain weight.

That’s why I always say to people, make changes that you can do for the rest of your life.  Choose foods that you can continue to eat for the rest of your life.  Exercise in a way that you can continue for the rest of your life.

The second book was The End of Overeating, by Dr. David Kessler.  In his chapter on Food Rehab, he makes this statement:

[For some people] the greatest challenge comes after reaching   their sought-after weight, when they recognize that their struggle   will never be completely over and that the battle with conditioned hypereating is lifelong.  Accepting those realities helps to keep you vigilant.  Keeping relapse at bay is not about being strong enough to beat the temptation of eating stimulating food, but about being smart enough to deal with it.

I think I’ll end there.  I’ll be back tomorrow with some of the quilting that I am working on now.  I didn’t see anything like it at the show, which is actually kind of neat.



19 thoughts on “Quilts and Maintaining

  1. Thank you, Debby. I needed this. I know we live on opposite sides of this country, but I truly hope someday to have the chance to give you a real hug, not just a cyber hug. You’ve been such an inspiration and source of encouragement for me. I so look forward to seeing you pop up in my reader! It always means, “grab a hot cup of coffee, this one’s gonna be good!”

  2. You wrote:
    “So that’s a little how I feel about deciding to maintain at 168 pounds. Rather unusual in this bloggy weight loss/fitness/maintenance world. Its way over my BMI. Way over my W.W. goal weight (duh, they use the BMI charts.) Its pretty ‘heavy’ for a five foot tall woman.”

    I wonder if it (your feeling that way) has to do with whose blogs you read. I wonder if you just happen to have found a nitch of us who have gotten to lower levels and stay there. Because I (personally) think that (maintaining at a higher weight)is the NORM.

    And I think there is probably an advantage in getting to higher, sustainable weight and holding there
    going to lower weight, not being able to hold, and then raising maintenance level to a higher level.

    The people who fall into that second grouping have a feeling of failure (I think, from what I have seen and read).

    And they have a whole bunch of clothes (lowest weight clothes) which they then can not wear. And the emotions involved with those clothes are powerful (negative). Not to mention the $$$ and time investment.

    • That could be part of it, but its not the main reason I feel that way.

      What I think is that most people who maintain at a higher level are not accepting that they are maintaining. They are always thinking about/talking about/hoping to lose more weiight. So that was the mind-switch that I was working through.

      I think you’re right about the clothes–that’s a physical reminder and a LOT of regrets. (I remember from when I lost weight in my 20’s and gained it all back.)

      • I think for the most part, these people (whose intention is to continue to lose, but in reality are maintaining) would be GAINING if it weren’t for those losing intentions.

      • In my mind I think of it as the ‘stepping off the elevator thing’. If they think they are still on, they might not be doing enough to lose, but they have enough zig in their zag to hold fairly steady. Once they think they are OFF (the elevator) then they sort of have the ‘done’ thing going on in their head. People will talk a lot about body wanting to be at certain levels or genetics. But it is really mostly about habits.

  3. I love the oriental quilt
    I assume that is feedsack – ?

    And wondered if you know if it is current day feedsack or WWII era feedsack – ?

    I still have feedsack dish towels in my kitchen drawer (grandmothers) which I USE. My kids probably have no idea they are even old or that they are feedsack (they are the print/colored kind with no words or symbols on them).

    • Yes. I think it is a modern day feed sack, if I remember the description correctly. That is cool that you have old feed sack towels.

  4. Thanks for sharing the quilts with us. But most of all thanks for sharing your thoughts. I too have been struggling with identity and this gives me quite a bit to think about.

  5. I think you’re identity is that you are a beautiful woman, animal lover, quilter and maintainer. And that’s plenty.

    I think the smartest thing I did this last time I lost weight — years 2002-03 and now maintaining at minus 58-to-60 after reaching minus 68 — is that I didn’t set a weight-loss goal. It was more out of cowardice than common sense. I’d met lower goals before and lost grasp of them relatively quickly. There’s nothing more depressing than that. You go too low and there’s a sling-shot effect, I think, that promotes a more rapid regain. I think it’s powered by genetics and an endocrine system intent on returning you to the weight your body thinks is “normal” because it just refuses to learn how to read a stinking BMI chart.

    While I’m not wild that I’ve regained ten pounds in seven years, I can only obsess so much, and it is slower than any regain of the past. I keep some internal tension on myself by striving to relose five pounds, but I allow myself to be content most days maintaining as I may.

    I see you haven’t changed your “About” blurb: “stubbornly working on losing the last 25.” I’d be the last one to tell you to change it.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Yes, I need to change that ‘about’ blurb… all this blog stuff takes a lot of time!

      Off to visit your blog!

  6. Debby – I am glad you wrote this. As you know, I struggle with whether or not I am at goal. There is always that desire to lose “the last 10 pounds” because according to charts, I am still overweight. I don’t know why that bugs me (because charts just blow), but it does.

    You have to be happy with how you live, and like I said on Lynn’s blog – you certainly don’t want to be miserable trying to fit into somebody else’s pigeon hole. Especially if you are an eagle 😀

    The top quilt. What does one do if a mistake is made while doing that intricate work??

  7. please keep the quilt pics coming, a bit at a time, because as you can see, we really do love to see them. And who ever asked about mistakes – we pick them out and do over. there are probably lots of mistakes IN there that are really only visible to the quilter/owner. But remember, this is not one continuous thread. it is many, many rethreads of the needle. So picking out is not a big deal. We get very good at it over time.

    (my own personal favorite was sewing youngest’s sleeper to one of my quilts – was nursing her and quilting at the same time. I almost always had a big handwork project going with newborns as I spent so much time sitting with a child attached. I didn’t poke her – just sewed her sleeper to the quilt…)

  8. Such pretty quilts!! I have old feed sack dishtowels that I use – I bought them at a flea market and they are my favorites!!

    I think it’s perfectly fine to maintain where you are. And really, to be honest would you be any happier weighing 25 pounds less? Would it increase your life-satisfaction? You seem to be fairly happy with things right now, so why add the turmoil of weight loss?

  9. Oh, phooey. I had a comment all written out, and it didn’t post. Oh well. If it ended up in “moderation,” then this may sound contradictory to stuff I wrote there, because this post is making me think, hard, about where I am now and whether I want to change that.

    I think there are probably more folks at this point than it would seem, who are trying to decide if they are “done” with weight loss. You know I’m there. I feel pretty much comfortable with my fitness and food routines, and they seem to be maintaining my health numbers just fine. Logic would say I’m “done,” and that I have been for awhile and just have been in denial about it, but part of me still wonders if I should dig a little deeper and try for the “magic” number I carry around in my head. (Even that would bring me into the almighty “BMI healthy” range…it would put me 1 pound above it. 😉 But I have to say, it’s really restful here. And as Jill said, it isn’t going to bring me any more life-satisfaction. It might make fitness a little easier on my body, carrying less weight, though.

    Kudos for yet another great post that made me think, Debby. (And that had lovely quilt pictures!) It illustrates well that we have to be true to what works for us, not to what everyone else is doing. Although there are some tried & true commonalities among those seeking health and fitness. (To extend the metaphor: otherwise, you’d be knitting or crocheting a blanket instead of making a quilt.) But there’s plenty of room for differences in our “medium,” and there’s not only one way that works for everyone.

  10. I just really like reading your blog sometimes. Whether it’s about Mr Monk man , happy Noah, Queen Sofie, the latest oats recipe or quilt show…oh and accepting who you are and being ok with that. I’m such a work in progress. I know that at 5’2 I should be x # of pounds and I haven’t been X # of pounds since I was a child..So I’m shooting for about 190 to 200–way obese still but that would be a remarkable. And I know it takes intensity of effort and exercise and rigid calorie control to see the #’s change on the scale. Right now they are stuck or trending up bevause I’m eating just about whatever..and trying to remember how I stopped doing that before. I’m rsmbling..I like old fashion quilts but some of the pictures you show are so incredible that I’m opening up a bit to the newer styles..

  11. I appreciate you talking about “identity”. I think this is a neglected aspect of this whole journey… both the weight loss part and the maintenance part.

    I’ve visited many many blogs now… and see a pattern. Invariably, how the person is doing is usually reflected in how they label themselves… their identity.

    Some that struggle ALL the time (we all have our turn at struggling on and off) seem to have the “identity” that feeds that… they use words to that effect, when they describe themselves and their journey.

    For instance, if we repeatedly attach ourselves to identities like: I am a binger… I am an addict… I am weak… etc etc, then we are strengthening our connection to STAYING that way… we are giving it power, feeding it.

    I really do believe that our label, our identity, who we truly see ourselves as being… it HUGE in how we live out our life. Bigger than we realize…

    I’m NOT talking about positive words, or just saying the right thing, etc.

    I AM talking about BELIEVING the right thing about ourself. “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

    Anyway, thanks for such a thought-provoking post.


  12. I think finding comfort with your body is a wonderful thing. I’m still fighting my “ending” weight – not sure what it will end up being yet. I love that you are at such a good place and you sound very peaceful, which I aspire to.

  13. Pingback: I Am More Than My Body « debby weighs in

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