At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance
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We are all about information, support, and camaraderie for people who are grappling with the concept of maintenance, or approaching or have met weight loss goals and are working on continuing their healthy habits and lifestyle. Weight Maintenance is sometimes hard but definitely achievable!
Alan Lakein, the writer of several self-help books on time management from the 1970s onward is credited with the maxim “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
In weight maintenance, just like lots of other long-term projects, it can really help to think ahead about how you are going to manage to keep off all that fat you worked so hard to remove.
There are many aspects to consider - how to choose your target weight range, how to figure out your maintenance calories (which can vary depending on activity levels), how to wean yourself from the thrill of seeing lower numbers on the scale each week and compliments about weight loss, how to settle into a place of mental comfort and consistency in your new weight/fitness “home.”
It is well worth considering your plan for maintenance before you actually get there. Scientific evidence is mounting that there are subtle but important differences between loss and maintenance
Celebrating reaching goal is a big deal. Before you buckle down and work on figuring out how to keep the weight off, it’s good to stop and savor the moment. You’ve arrived.
Yes, this new body is a bit unfamiliar - which makes sense because you might not have been this size and at this level of fitness for a long time, maybe ever! Enjoy it! Take it out dancing. Try on affordable “new” clothes at a consignment or thrift shop. Try a new sport.
And share your experiences with us. Success is contagious, and sometimes in the middle of maintaining we forget what it felt like to get to goal weight. You can remind us. :-)
Celebrating reaching goal is a big deal. And celebrating STAYING at goal is an even bigger one, for those of us who have to put effort into maintaining. This is one case where the stats on maintaining are encouraging - the longer you maintain, the longer you are likely to continue.
So the point here is to Keep At It, especially through the first 2-3 years when you’re the most vulnerable to regain. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to join the list to celebrate your maintenance anniversary. (This list also provides the data for our Hall of Fame.)
We have some threads that aren’t specifically about maintenance, but they can be fun ways to connect with the other members on the team:
As much as everyone would like to believe that reaching goal is the end of the weight loss journey, it just doesn’t work that way. Life is seldom smooth or predictable. Setbacks and curveballs happen to everyone. The point isn’t to be perfect, but rather to pick ourselves up and recover quickly when we stumble.
Managing your weight can be really challenging, and it can help to think of it as a skill that we can improve, over time.
One of the best places to look for ideas and inspiration is within our own team of maintainers, right here on SparkPeople.com. I just love browsing pages listed on the Hall of Fame to see what our long-term maintainers are up against, and how they cope with it. Their blog posts are a cold dose of reality mixed with a message of hope. They’ve figured out how to navigate this process and I can learn from their experience. And they’re right here, active, on the site, so if I have questions, I can ask them directly.
We also have aggregate statistics on body composition and waist-to-hip ratios so you can see where the majority of us fall according to those measures. Because in the end this is about health and fitness, not just a number on the scale.
A number of maintainers from our team have been featured in articles around SparkPeople as well as in other media sources. Check out the following links for some extra inspiration and to see how these people have maintained their healthy lifestyles. If you know of someone on the team that we’ve missed, please let us know.
While personal anecdotes can be helpful, a more rigorous place we can look to for help on understanding maintenance is the scientific research about it. Funding for maintenance research is slim compared with weight loss, which likely contributes the most to the fact that there is so much less work done on it compared with weight loss.
But there is a small body of literature out there, and we will take what we can get. Thinking about maintenance in scientific terms can really help us clarify our thoughts about it. How do you actually define “maintenance,” anyway? Where do those depressing numbers about failure rates come from, and what do they actually mean? How can we translate what we’ve learned from successful maintainers into useful tools and resources?
While the resources we have on this team are good, they are by no means all that is available. Everyone is different, and what one person finds helpful, another may not. So we have a message thread for people to share the resources they find and like, and have list some of them also in the Big Page of Links.
If you are looking for motivation, or inspiration, or the comfort of knowing others find this process difficult sometimes, take some time to browse this section. Perhaps you will find something that really speaks to you. And if you do, tell us about it!
There are a few books about maintenance that we’re aware of, and we’ve listed them here. If you know of one we should include, please let us know!
Just because we manage to reach our goal weight doesn’t mean we’re necessarily “done” with all the work we might need to do in finding a healthy relationship with food. Many folks still struggle with compulsions to eat more food than they need, and find themselves in a painful cycle of overeating, then severely restricting for a few days afterward to compensate. Finding a sustainable pattern of eating that works for us is important, and can involve such factors as adjusting for days when we burn more than usual (race day) or less than usual (recovering from injury), what macronutrient composition will keep us from feeling hungry, and how often to eat.
Some of us have lost a LOT of weight. Like more than half of ourselves. Although skin is a wonderful, flexible and forgiving organ, there are sometimes limits to how much it can adapt. No matter how much muscle you build underneath, there might remain some reminders of your previous life. There are some links here if you are concerned about it and want to find out how to manage your feelings about it, and what options there might be.