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Learn About Maintenance Before Losing Weight

Monday, November 05, 2012

I was happy to come across an article on CNN that discussed a study that demonstrated the importance of understanding weight maintenance before weight loss begins. Most people worry about losing the weight and then either mistakenly believe that maintenance will be natural, or, that "being thin is it's own reward" and that they will be so ecstatic to be thin that they will not let the weight come back on. The unfortunate truth is that a lot of people who lose weight regain it (myself included). This time, I armed myself with some knowledge and practice of weight maintenance before I started losing weight 2 years ago.

I wrote a blog last year about learning about maintenance before and during weight loss. It is important to understand the significance of weight maintenance partially because plateaus occur during weight loss and so that there is a game plan after reaching goal weight. I have "only" lost about 50 pounds over the past 2 years. I tend to go through long periods of maintaining my weight and then have a few weeks of losses. Considering I train hard for Jiu Jitsu, I am okay with this pattern because it means I am minimizing muscle loss. Learning about maintenance has also helped teach me to be patient with my weight loss. In any case, studies like this one might help steer weight loss methods in a new direction.

Here is the CNN article:

Here is my blog titled "Getting Ready to Stay the Same: Considering Maintenance While Losing":
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I've been missing your blogs. I must have somehow accidentally unsubscribed??
    1628 days ago
    I lost the weight I wanted to lose and then it slowwwwly creeped back on. Boom, I gained it all back! Ad now here I go again on that same mission to lose it. Maddening!
    Thanks for the link!
    1684 days ago
    I've kept off about 50 of the original 60 I lost. It's been... almost three years? I think it's important to also realize that sometimes our goal weights *aren't* the weight our bodies want to sit at. To stay at 125 involved constant calorie counting, hunger and fatigue for me. To stay around 135 requires I stay active and eat well most of the time, without needing to obsessively nitpick my every food choice. Both weights are healthy BMIs. One is mid to high normal (23), one is low to mid normal (21.5ish). For me, it's been hard realizing that hey, I might not be able to *happily* stay that thin. If it's that hard and exhausting to maintain such a low BMI/size but so easy to stay where I am now, maybe I was shooting too low for my own good.

    I still WANT to lose a bit of fat and I'm trying to do so slowly slowly slowly so I don't lose all my good runner muscle but I think 130-135 is my body's sweet spot. I might want to be lighter/smaller but the suffering it takes to get there and the mental issues it causes me to be so strict and restrictive just aren't worth it.
    1693 days ago
    Nice post. I think I can learn from you. emoticon
    1693 days ago
    I tend to think that the real work begins when weight loss stops and maintaining starts.
    1694 days ago
  • MARTY728
    1694 days ago
    Great blog, and thanks for sharing the links! I hadn't read your "old" blog on weight maintenance previously, but you hit the nail on the head for sure with that one! I am still in the "weight loss" part of my journey, but I have high hopes that maintenance will be a success, especially since for the last couple of months I have been at a plateau, which basically means I was maintaining! If I can do it for 2 months, why not 2 years, or 20 years, or for the rest of my life????

    Like you, I've lost weight before (although not as much) and then not been able to keep it off. This time, by being more aware and preparing ahead of time, like you said, the weight will stay off!!!
    1694 days ago
    Yes, weight maintenance is key
    1694 days ago
    This was a really good read, thank you!
    1694 days ago
    That has always been my approach and how I keep maintaining. It is hard to consistently keep our eye on the prize but I agree with you. Thanks for sharing.
    1694 days ago
    The CNN article is great: and your own blog ("losing the fat in our heads first, indeed") is even better.

    Totally agree with you that maintenance has to come first or weight loss will be a recurring cycle . . . so interesting that you've made psychology and kinesiology your academic focus in the weight maintenance context!!

    PS You may see that I've given this a shout-out on my own blog today . . .and also suggested that people consider joining the At Goal and Maintaining: Transition to Maintenance Team from day one of their journeys!
    1694 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/6/2012 8:29:48 AM
    That's really interesting. I try to prepare and learn, but I'm still struggling trying to get things moving...just got to keep trying to make all of the healthy choices.

    Really helpful article though, thank you!
    1694 days ago
    Yup, pretty much my story too.

    I lost over 100# in my 20s, regained all of it plus almost 100 more.

    This time around I was playing for keeps, because I was determined not to go through that again!

    And so far, so good. In January I will have maintained for 3 years.

    So yeah, keep doing what you're doing, and applying all of your resources. It works.

    1694 days ago
    Yep, came across this stuff! Don't forget we have our SparkTeam filled with super helpful Maintainers:

    1694 days ago
    This really hits home for me... I remember someone asking that question, "Would you continue to make healthy choices if you knew you would never lose another pound?" I had to ask myself this: "Would you continue to make healthy choices if you knew you were just going to GAIN weight anyway???" Arghh!!! That is a tough one... I'm not doing that great making the healthiest choices, but I'm trying.
    1694 days ago
  • SYZYGY922
    Thanks for sharing this. It didn't occur to me until I was more than halfway to my goal that this was something I needed to worry about! I see a lot of posts on Sparkpeople where people talk about how they're going to stop tracking when they meet goal and I always kind of groan. I'm in it for the long haul!
    1694 days ago
    Thanks for the information, I didn't know this was an issue.
    1694 days ago
    Thanks for this. That was a really interesting article.

    I've been kind of going by instinct, but I can tell you that maintenance is pretty different from how I pictured it (honestly, when I started losing weight, the idea of my maintenance self was just a hypothetical person that I didn't think about much. It seemed so impossible).

    I think I decided early on that weight loss and maintenance were going to have to look pretty similar for me. I loosened up on the weight loss part of it a bit so I wasn't overly strict, and I tightened up on my maintenance mindset. The result is that I never had one day where I decided I was now maintaining - it was a very gradual shift (and honestly, I still shift back and forth between a holding pattern and more of a weight loss mentality, even though the actual pounds involved are tiny).

    I'm okay with always having to keep an eye on my weight, activity and consumption. It took a while to really, genuinely get to a place where I can be okay with weighing my food (and myself) every day. A lot of people simply won't be okay with that, and need to find what works for them. Either way, figuring out what you're willing to live with for the rest of your life is important for both weight loss and maintenance, and it's something that takes time to learn.
    1694 days ago
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