Maintenance is the fine line between neglect and overkill.

As I write this, I have a sport-sized Poland Spring bottle next to me. What sport did I engage in today, you ask? Um, competitive carbo-loading. And I feel disgusting. I feel like the old Theodora. When I tried on new clothes today, I was shocked (and amazed) that the 4s and the 6s actually fit. I got a new scale, and I’m actually a little relieved I can’t figure out yet how to work it. I found myself doing the strategic fat-covering while trying on a few things today. Now, I certainly still had some fat on my stomach that hadn’t yet suffered my wrath before the holidays, but the past month didn’t do anything to help that.

I write these words and don’t totally recognize myself. What happened to the positive, healthy-eating Theodora that began to emerge from her fat shell in February? Is one holiday season and the accompanying calories worth undoing months of hard work? NO. And so, before I go further down this road, I am stopping myself. Luckily, I’ve kept working out and *mostly* eating well this month, just interspersed with more-frequent bouts of indulgence.

I’m reading Valerie Bertinelli’s Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge right now (don’t laugh – it’s good!). I’m only about a third of the way in, but she talks a lot about maintenance. A few months ago, when I had only “5-10 more pounds to go,” a few different people told me they’d be the hardest pounds to lose. Typically stubborn, I laughed and said “I’ve been losing at least five pounds a month, I’m training for a half-marathon, I’ll be fine…” Well, I’ve lost those five pounds…after I gained them back, and then lost them again, and then gained them back again. (That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.)

Truth be told, I think I got a little too cocky. I tried starting to maintain before I’d even met my goal and before I even learned what maintenance really was! Maintenance is about moderation. It’s about maybe having those foods you really can’t live without for the rest of your life a little more than you did when you were losing the weight, but less than you did when you were gaining the weight. It’s about not killing yourself if you don’t make it to the gym one day but making sure you’re still making it to the gym.

Because while my mom makes some damn good baked rigatoni, it’s not worth how I feel right now. That tight feeling in my abs that makes me stand a little taller and strut my stuff has been replaced by feeling my stomach struggle to digest the onslaught of carbs it ingested today.

My plan for tomorrow and the rest of my life? To get right back on that horse the best way I know how. (No, not Pump…yet.) My body and my mind both feel better when I treat them right. I’ve learned a lot in these last 10 months, and I’m worth it. I’m worth the spinach and lean meat and looking hot and feeling great.

And so are you.

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