Fearing what we know not is normal. The road to maintenance, the journey to reach a reduced size or ideal weight is familiar ground. Notches in my belt show extensive experience. Yet weight maintenance has had limited exposure, remains unfamiliar territory, and boasts a reduced success rate. Arrival at a destination, a particular number of pounds I sought to remove, a size flashing a low number on a tag, and a proud view in a mirror have highlighted several successful stints of weight reduction. Goals of completing marathons, Outward Bound courses, and fitness programs all resulted in reaching some pinnacle, and then diving off the peak into an abyss of failure, relinquishing my crown of glory to non-movement uncertain how to maintain ultimate fitness levels. Maintenance remains a mystery.

An unlearned lesson, summed up by my quote is apropos, “When you reach the top of the mountain, you are only half way there.” Although I cognitively recognize this reality, education has eluded full comprehension, experiential practice, and success. When I view that quote literally rather than metaphorically, the irony is that my strength climbing down a mountain exceeds traversing up. On 22 and 30-day Outward Bound courses that took me deep into the High Sierras and Rocky Mountains, my temperament, physical shape, and mental acuity made elevation and ascent the greater challenge, while descending at any rate drew from my strengths in dominant fashion. Perhaps my hips and thighs, my predominant body parts, held greater strength to warrant the side to side, downward dig necessary for descent, whereas cardiovascularly and as the air grew thinner, my strength weakened and challenged my physical response deeply.

Although views from the mountain tops and peaks took my breath away like pieces of heaven clearing the vision, downward slope contained a freedom like flying and soaring towards a final destination. That freedom like an eagle’s flight always lifted my spirits, enabling me to appreciate the views more significantly and experience authentic, deep conversations with fellow hikers, while empowering the physical drive to the bottom.

Yet after every diet and physical feats’ successes, the weight returned, the muscular achievement atrophied, and failure replaced victory. I reached the top of the mountain not to recognize I was only half way there. Post diet, I would eat more and unhealthily; following each marathon, I stopped exercising entirely; and subsequent to Outward Bound trips, I lacked any physical exertion. Like a recoiling to a comfort level, the rubber band snapped back to fat and immobile, large and low-energy, sad and depressed.

Lifelong change required efforts I chose not to commit to, and resulted in relentless abandon, traveling from victory to defeat. Maintenance, approached from a far reaching arm, never received the attention it needed. Therefore, without an embrace, my full comprehension and follow through were short lived. Yet, now is my time and nothing is getting in my way. I am committed to walk that walk, follow the process, and welcome maintenance for the final lifelong descent to fruition. When I reach the top of the mountain this time, I accept that halfway is the perfect place for continuity, a slightly different technique, and energy readied for my lifestyle to continue without reservation, without a break, without atrophy. This is my final ascent to weight loss, where the climb down from that peak awaits maintenance and “the me” I was meant to be. I suspect with maintenance there is a reversal of fortune, where after considerable time in the maintenance quarter, I will feel like I am above peaks, mountain ranges and valleys, soaring high above with a freedom like none other. Fly, Lisa, Fly!