. . . success?
. . . the end?
. . . hard!
. . . a struggle.
. . . frustrating!
. . . an ongoing process!
Yes, maintenance is much more difficult than losing weight.
During your weight loss journey, you have a specific end goal in sight. It is your focus, your motivation, your reason for what you do – all the different food choices and exercise – it’s all for reaching that one point.
What happens after that? Who really talks about what goes on in the mind of someone who is in maintenance? Where are the huge support groups and bloggers that tackle the struggles of those of us just starting in maintenance or a couple of years in who need motivation and a way to figure out new goals to keep us going?
I believe, especially in my case, this is what makes staying at a steady weight and keeping up with healthy eating and exercise so hard and why I yo-yo’d so much for so long. Sure, there are the superficial reasons that we set in our weight loss journey to begin with that aren’t strong enough to hold us on track, but once you find that perfect motivation, you reach goal and no one tells you what to expect or how to deal with it. All of a sudden, there you are! You’re excited that you finally have made it to “the end.” Now what?
I reached goal 2 years ago. I was doing well at keeping my weight right around 122 pounds and keeping my eating habits healthy, but I started to lose my way a bit about 6 months ago. Without realizing it, my eating slowly and gradually started to shift a bit. I didn’t start eating completely badly again. I just noticed my body fat going back up, my belly filling outward some and my weight was up about 5 pounds. 127 is still a good weight and I have no problem with that, but I need to get the body fat down again. I had stopped logging my food and calories, so it was impossible to look back at that and say “Oh, that’s what it is!” I had no way to know what to change back to or what habits had altered. I was, maybe still am, a bit lost.
So, here I am asking the question, what does it really mean to be on maintenance?
1. You can’t slack on your due diligence. You still should journal your food even if you aren’t counting calories. That way you can look back and check what might have changed if you start noticing your weight or body fat or clothes size starting to shift.
2. You must constantly find new goals to strive for. This, to me, is the hardest part and I can’t claim to have found a way to do that yet. Sure, I want to build muscle and lose this body fat, but is that enough? Constant evaluation and revisiting of your maintenance goals must be done to either keep you on track for that new goal or, if it’s not working for you, figure out what to alter to stay focused.
3 . Support. You have to find someone in the same situation to share with and count on for advice or outside motivation to stay on course. I’m seeking out people like that right now.
4. Reminders. Write down your original goals that got you where you are! Keep them handy for those moments when you are frustrated or having a difficult time staying with your healthy habits. Here are mine:
– My health – I’m off asthma medication, hopefully for good!
– Keeping up with my husband – I can now bike and run with him without being left behind or feeling inadequate or OLD!
That’s it. I didn’t have that many, but they were very effective.
I’m not saying I have the answer to all the issues with maintenance. I don’t have that magic formula that will stop everyone from going back to that yo-yo cycle of loss/gain. All I can do here is tell you my story and tell you that it is getting hard for me to stay on target. I’m frustrated that I’m working out every day, but I can’t seem to get rid of this body fat! My current maintenance goal is fading into the distance and I need a new focus. I’m moving my focus off the physical and shifting to really paying attention to what I’m putting in my body. After all, it is 80% of the battle!
With all that, I still feel a little lost in the woods. Is there a path? A guiding light to lead the way? There are no set rules for maintenance.
These are my current insights into maintenance and the difficulties I’ve been facing with it lately. I have no intention of gaining my weight back or becoming the couch potato I used to be. The memory of how painful and difficult this last weight loss journey was is still too fresh. I’m still trying to figure out how to stay where I’m at and keep it exciting and fresh and still get an idea of where I want to go for each leg of this lifelong part of the journey!