I often talk about how tough maintenance is and you may have heard me say that I think it is harder than losing the weight was. Not everyone agrees with me there, and everyone deals with things differently – but that is how I feel. To say that maintenance is harder than losing weight was, is not to say that losing weight was easy. It wasn’t at all. I struggled so much at times and can’t even count on my hands the amount of times I wanted to give up, but maintenance is a different story.
When I was losing weight, there were always numbers to keep me motivated and specific goal to work towards. I could see the number going down on the scale and I could see the smaller clothes sizes I was wearing. I had a goal weight to work towards and I could see myself getting closer to that each month and I was reaching fitness goals often.
Once you reach your goal and start maintaining your weight loss, it is almost like there is less direction. You are working on staying at pretty much the exact same place (but making allowances as it will fluctuate), rather than working on moving forward. There are always goals to work towards, mainly fitness related, but you don’t have the same numerical goals. The numbers aren’t the be all and end all, but they are a good motivator at times. Maintenance is about staying healthy, and it is hard to see health on a day to day basis. Am I making any sense here?
Weight loss and maintenance have two different approaches and changing that approach as soon as you reach your goal can be a difficult change. The sooner you start working on how your will maintain, the better.
I don’t need to tell you how hard maintenance is. Either you have been there yourself and lost weight and put it back on, or you have heard all the statistics about how many people gain it back (only 5 to 10 percent of people keep it off) or you have read about the celebrities who have lost a lot of weight and gained it all back.
I am not saying this to discourage you. It is tough be it is certainly not impossible. I think as long as you are realistic and understand that this is your new lifestyle now and you can’t just go back to your old habits, then it is going to be much easier for you to maintain. But, at the same time you have to find a new balance, you are no longer working on losing weight, but you don’t want to be putting it back on either.
Also, the way you go about losing weight is important when it comes to maintenance. If you go on some crazy crash diet that you can’t maintain in the long run, then you won’t be able to maintain that routine and keep the weight off. Have you seen The Biggest Loser? How many of those contestants put the weight back on after the show? Unfortunately a lot of them. They work out for hours every day on the show so they can have those big losses each week, but when they go back home and back to their usual routine and work they can’t keep up all those workouts and start putting on weight again. You need to start out with something you can stick to. Nothing extreme.
Also, old habits die hard. It can be so easy to just go back to how you were before, but doing that will just lead you to exactly where you were before. The people around you might also play a part in that. They may not understand why you can’t just eat loads of pizzas and go out drinking all the time. You have reached your goal – why are you still working out and watching what you eat? Of course you can still enjoy nights out with friends, but not all of them are going to understand that you still have to work hard to keep the weight off.
If you take your time losing weight, you will spend time on gaining the knowledge that will help you keep the weight off and you will learn a lot about health and fitness and a lot about your body and what works for you. That is why it is important to not follow a fad diet and not do anything too extreme that gives you a fast weight loss. Take your time so you can learn what you need to learn to keep it off for good.
Saying all this, it is not something I obsess over. As I mentioned on Facebook earlier, my weight fluctuates 5lb either side of my goal weight and I am fine with that, but it is so easy for it to go more either way. Finding that balance is something that is quite difficult, but it is okay, I have the rest of my life to continue to work on my health and finding that balance.
Losing weight is only half the battle, but this is not a battle I am going to lose.