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Step Two: Restart Your Experiment of One
Like your weight loss calorie range, SparkPeople’s recommendation for weight maintenance is an estimate, based on general formulas and statistical averages. You'll need to see how things go for a while to know if it’s right for you, or then adjust it if necessary. Reaching your goal weight and shifting into maintenance mode is a BIG change, for both your body and your mind. So we recommend that you do pay attention to how both react to this new situation. Some of the physiological reasons for being especially careful at this stage of the game are explained in the article Maintaining a Healthy Weight.
Research shows that people who succeed at keeping the weight off tend to track the same details (like calories eaten, portions, exercise and weight) that they did when losing the weight. As you work to keep the weight off, your chances of being successful go up dramatically if you:
Check your weight frequently (at least weekly). The goal here is not to panic over every small increase in your weight—it’s normal for it to fluctuate from day to day during maintenance just as it did during weight loss. But while you’re in the process of trying to identify your energy (calorie) needs, you’ll need to spot any upward trends in your weight before you get to the point that you need to go back to weight loss mode. Most successful maintainers weigh in at least weekly, and start tinkering with their nutrition and workouts if they see a significant gain (or loss) for two weeks in a row.
Track your daily calorie intake—at least for a little while. It probably won’t be necessary to do this for very long, but it’s a very good idea to double check yourself for a while just to make sure you’re counting everything, estimating portions accurately, and covering all your nutrition needs—especially if you’re making substantial changes in how much you eat and/or exercise.
Make changes one at a time, and in small increments. If your weight loss doesn’t stop or you start gaining weight, you’ll need to figure out the best way to change things. You won’t be able to tell what effect any particular change is having if you make a bunch of them at once, so try one thing at a time and give yourself a chance to see what works.
Maintain your social support network. People who abandon the support systems and activities they used to lose weight are much more likely to regain the weight than people who stay in contact. So don’t assume that reaching your goal weight means you don’t belong at SparkPeople anymore. Helping others do what you’ve done is one of the best ways to help yourself maintain your own achievements.
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant.
See all of Dean's articles.
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