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Maintaining Stratagems

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Monday, September 17, 2012

When I began maintaining, I worked to keep my mind open to the possible strategies and techniques to help me achieve my goals. I've picked up bits of knowledge and information to do so but after a certain point I became immersed in the repetitious patterns to my days and it didn't seem possible that there were further strategies to employ, I'd tried it all.

Wrong, wrong, so wrong. There are always new thoughts and ideas to try, new studies to learn from, new techniques to prevent stagnation and gain.

I have a number of favorites that I employ as necessary, some very generalized and some very specific, but all very helpful in their own ways.

1) Consistency
Whatever I do, whether it is the amount of calories eaten, the exercise I engage in, the best way to achieve results is to be consistent day in and out.

2) Eating every 3-4 hours
I've discussed this before, but it's important for me to do this as eating so frequently works to suppress ghrelin production and ultimately hunger, allowing my appetite to remain satisfied through the day. The downside is that I have trained my body to expect food at certain times of day, but this is the system which works for me.

3) Drinking water
Drinking water is about quenching my thirst (which I can mistake for hunger) as well as keeping me hydrated. The downside is increased bathroom runs, as well as the quick loss of minerals and salt that would otherwise help increase my very low blood pressure. In other words, I get dizzy a lot when standing.

4) Drinking hot tea
Tea is shown to suppress appetite, but did you know that hot drinks do the same? This is a double whammy strategy against hunger and appetite, especially in the evenings when binging is most likely to occur.

5) Sharing restaurant orders
Let's admit it, restaurant portions are not single servings, even for fast food. At double or triple the serving amounts, it is a dangerous game to play with myself in dining out. Splitting meals and sharing drinks and a single dessert among friends is a good way to not only cut the calories, but the expense as well. The downside is that you never know if what they want will coincide with what you want, and if it will be worth it in calories.

6) Protein in the morning
As with tea, consuming protein in the morning works all day long to suppress hunger and appetite. If I know on a given day I will be going out and need to restrict through the rest of the day, I try to start the day with proteins.

7) Cleanse days
This is a new strategy, one that I only just heard about and one that really appeals. I've already shown I excel at indulgence eating within maintenance (aka cheat days or treat days, 24/7), so allowing a day of indulgence in the week would mean nothing to me. Rather, one day of the week should be reserved as a cleanse day, eating low calorie below maintenance, in order to partially offset the indulgences the rest of the time, and celebrating the achieved deficiency.

8) Switch things up
We've heard this time and time again, and fundamentally we understand it is good to add variety to our routine, but most of the time it's just hard to find the opportunities. I'm slowly working on adjusting my food planning systems to attain a more sustainable outcome. I was focused to much on rigid patterns to produce the results I want, so I'm learning to be more flexible. (That isn't to say the rigid system didn't benefit me in the past, but now it's time to move on.) As for exercise, as I've blogged I've taken on a sport and a training regime (running) which I never thought I would ever do, in the spirit of friendly competition. These changes are changes for the better, as long as I'm consistent with them.

9) Letting go of the old
It's easy to fall into a pattern and start to think this is all I need to do. But even what begins as a positive pattern can turn toxic and is no longer sustainable in a healthy way. We focus too much on only one rule only, expecting it to work each time. And when it doesn't, we end up feeling like it has failed. This cycles and becomes a pattern on its own, but we really haven't failed, we've just closed ourselves off from the alternative options and the old rules are stagnating. Keeping an open mind, whether that is conversation with friends, reading new articles and blogs, listening to podcasts, watching tv shows, reading books, entering competitions, whatever you like has the possibility to reopen your mind for the good, gaining new strategies to employ.

10) Take a few steps back
There are certain points we reach where we begin to think we've advanced beyond the methods we used to employ. We dismiss them, they're old, they're simple, they did what they needed to and we've moved forward past them. Yet these simple systems, like walking instead of other forms of exercise, or weighing in once a week instead of daily, or eating simpler meals, these steps back in time can become the systems that not only got us on the right path, they can return us to the right path when we've strayed no matter what level we are at. They worked for a reason then, and they can still work for us now.

Rules set up boundaries for us and these boundaries can protect us from unwanted urges and desires. It can be scary to knock down the familiar boundaries and rules, scary to toss out the patterns we are comfortable with. We don't want to let in the evils we've been holding at bay. But not all rules and strategies will last as we age and circumstances change.

When we find the strength to pull down the familiar and build out with a mind open to possibility, we discover the boundaries are enhanced by change, even extended a little further out to allow us extra room, letting us to continue to seek success and letting us continue to maintain.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I recently started a maintenance program. I am reading as many articles as I can to get a grip on how to maintain rather than lose! This was a great blog with several good tips. Thank you so much for sharing! :D
    1193 days ago
    Not yet on maintenance... but about to be. I am also the queen of indulgence (why one day a week? one more can't hurt?) ...so the cleansing day will be for me to
    2048 days ago
    Great insight
    2074 days ago
    Easy to see why this was voted a top post - great list! Off to drink some water ....
    2075 days ago
    I usually drink hot teas in late afternoon before sunset, sometimes early afternoon at work because I love teas but after reading your blog that it can surpress appetite and hunger, wow, that makes me happy!

    I like the rest in the list, I'm sure everyone can apply some or all in lives in reaching our goals :D
    2076 days ago
    Great strategies. I'm always looking for them to help me, thanks for sharing.

    2077 days ago
  • THOMS1
    emoticon GOOD BLOG.
    2078 days ago
    Thank you for this blog. Very good!
    2078 days ago
    Great blog! emoticon
    2078 days ago
  • ESME25
    2078 days ago
    I really enjoyed your blog. You are very dedicated and motivated. I see lots of determination in your success. Keep up the great job and CONGRATS on your weight loss. It is very inspiring. Have a blessed day!
    Irish Ei emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2078 days ago
    Thanks for sharing so much good information.....still trying to get the consistency part down. Maintenance is every bit as much of a challenging journey as losing was and I am so grateful for the wisdom of folk like you who are willing to help show us newer maintainers the way!

    2078 days ago
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    2079 days ago
    You laid it out very clear and precise.. I have been in maintenance for over a year and still work on the amount of calories to eat. Due to what kind of workout I happen to be involved in at the time. But I always set a limit never go over that. I use all but the cleanse day, or eat lighter. Although some days I do eat 200 or 300 hundred calories less, maybe that counts. I hardly ever eat heavy crabs so I eat pretty light. I like that you mention protein in the morning. I too have to start out with protein other wise I am hungry all day long. But most of the time we are told to eat grains and carbs to keep us full. The most important thing I think is consistenty.. And I have to weigh daily to correct any gain that I might see. Two pounds up, I am on alert.
    Congratulations on your success.
    Take care.
    Be strong, stay positive.
    Tisha emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2079 days ago
  • BERRY4
    You show a lot of GROWTH in the process of managing both weight and LIFE!
    It is important to be open to other information and try other things to see if they work for you / me. And yet, knowing the basics of what works is key as well. Always a balancing act!
    Life is like a teeter totter! emoticon
    2079 days ago
    Great blog!
    2079 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Great blog. This is very true. You need rules and consistency..but like you said after time things need to change..You might exercsie needs changing or your food eating patterns. I like your emphasis on development and being open to change while staying consistent.
    Also..focusing on one rule working each time..and not allowing for change is hard. For me..my maintenance works 90 percent of the time..then I might hit a plateau where I have not added or done anything new..but my body gains a few pounds which are then hard to get off. normally with my lifestyle pounds come off fairly easy.
    Then you need to seek new ways of eating or exercising.
    2079 days ago
  • -RUBIES-
    Love this blog! Congrats on your weight loss too.
    emoticon emoticon
    2079 days ago
  • DSJB9999
    emoticon ideas emoticon for sharing your maintenance ideas
    2079 days ago
    Great blog with some great new ideas for maintaining!

    Like others, I found the idea of a weekly 'cleanse' day interesting.....I generally do 2 seasonal cleanses each year and have done so for over a decade, but those are longer deals. Consistently taking 1 'light' day per week is a wonderful idea!

    Congratulations on your continued success!!!
    2079 days ago
    Definitely some great ideas.

    I'm not sure what sort of "cleanse" you're referring to, though. I'm going to assume you're not talking about the more extreme juice fasting style and are really more talking about a day of eating lower in calories, more nutritionally dense natural foods, to offset for the days you'll want to eat higher in calories, less nutrition-dense foods (aka treats).
    2079 days ago
    Great ideas - I especially love the 'cleanse' day!! I'm going to try that strategy!!
    2079 days ago
    Great strategies--thank you for sharing! I am just getting started on the maintenance phase of this adventure, so I appreciate hearing from those who have been doing it awhile. We CAN keep it off for good!
    2079 days ago
  • MKELLY72
    Thank you for reminding us how important it is to keep learning and to keep being flexible with ourselves! Great ideas for maintenance strategies!
    2079 days ago
  • MILLIE5522
    Your blog was written on the day I reached goal so perfect timing for me as I start on maintenance. I shall always refer to this to help me keep on track! emoticon
    2079 days ago
    Excellent post. Great tips. I especially like the idea of a day of cleansing and of switching things up. Will try!
    2079 days ago
  • _LINDA
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    Very well done Tina, on your weight loss and strategies!!
    I love exercising and trying new things there, but my food is pretty much the same thing, fruit shake for breakfast, egg whites for supper and veggies for lunch. I like the idea of small meals throughout the day, but I am on the go too much to make that work for me.
    Happy Maintaining!
    2079 days ago
  • LAURIE5658
    This is an outstanding blog and great points are made. Thank you!
    2079 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    2079 days ago
    Great blog! The part that grabbed my attention the most was the need to switch things up. I do that with fitness, but I've been afraid to touch my eating routine, since it's what got me to the point of maintenance. I eat the same two or three breakfasts, the same two or three lunches.... Perhaps it IS time to explore and find some new ideas that fit with my plan. Thanks!
    2079 days ago
    Super blog, great strategies which are clearly working for ya: you look TERRIFIC!!
    2079 days ago
    Thank you for your great insight and tips, TINASWEEP.
    2079 days ago
    Wonderful tips shared by one of our (formerly) local Rock Stars of Maintenance!!

    Going to hang onto this one as a list of great reminders!

    2079 days ago
    I learned a few new tricks reading your blog. Great ideas for maintenance. Thanks,
    2079 days ago
    Thanks for your very excellent input. I am struggling with maintenance but not like I would have in the past. Somehow I am able to put the brakes on (several times) and get back in the right direction. Wish I could find that comfortable balance and stay there. I was confident that I was in that place and then gradually returned to struggle mode. Reading blogs like yours helps me keep up the battle. In the past, sites like SparkPeople did not exist and you would have to find inspiration by attending meetings and hearing the same old-same old.
    2079 days ago
    Very nice blog. I especially like the recommendation to be open to new paths and to revisiting old paths. No ruts here. Thank you.
    2079 days ago
    Yes, I do see some new things here, too... I LOVE that maintainers are active here on Spark, helping each other in this vital, under-valued phase of healthy living!

    2079 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your strategies. Some of them I've used; others I may very well try. Congrats on losing 95 pounds. Tremendous accomplishment. Keeping it off is perhaps and even bigger accomplishment. Thanks for sharing how you keep on doing it. Best wishes for a healthy, happy lifetime!! - Marsha
    2079 days ago
    Very well stated and very well written!
    2079 days ago
  • LESLIE871948
    "celebrating the achieved deficiency" Wow. I loved this entire blog. You have some things here that match my preferences, and a few that don't, and you have presented your way so gently and articulately that I feel willing to try some of the things I have not used in the past. This is such a marvelous blog, bravo to the person who brought it to our attention! I am more rich in years than many are here, so I have put some time into reading about "blue zones". They recommend eating to 80% full as a daily habit. I do that. I have a 95% full day pretty much every week, and now am considering that it would be a good idea to toss in a maybe 60% full day just for the reason you mention.
    2079 days ago
    it's so important for those of us who are new to maintaining to read about different approaches from people who are already there - i like your idea of a cleanse day, had not thought of that before!
    2079 days ago

    2079 days ago
    Fabulous blog! I am only 6 weeks into maintenance and I really appreciate you sharing what you have learned to successfully maintain. Thanks so much!

    2079 days ago
    Excellent advice for anyone starting to maintain. it's sometimes a steep learning curve and these tips are invaluable emoticon
    2079 days ago
  • MILLIE5522
    Now I have reached goal I am reading as much as I can about maintenance. I like your idea of a clean day. emoticon for sharing!
    2101 days ago
    Excellent tips! Thanks for sharing! And congratulations on your continued success!
    2102 days ago
  • MISSB8604
    Thank you for this, as someone who is about to enter into the maintenance phase, I'm really interested in these topics.

    I wish you the best!
    2103 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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