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What does maintenance look like to you?

wunderkindkingwunderkindking Member Posts: 992 Member Member Posts: 992 Member
I'm curious about this -

If you're in maintenance, do you expect to stay strictly within a calorie 'budget' and maintain your weight consistently (barring scale weight fluctuations via water or whatever)? Do you expect your weight to drift up to a 'scream weight' and then gradually lower it (with or without tracking)? Track your calories and allow for some gain/loss ANYWAY and have a scream weight where you switch to a deficit or intentionally gain? Something else entirely?

I think at this point I kind of expect that my average weight will go up some, hit a self-imposed ceiling and then I'll have a deficit again. This is what I expect it be, basically forever (and that's fine for me - also I don't know if I'll want to lose more from where I am now - talk to me in August or September).

But I also know this is not the only way and I'm curious, so tell me what maintenance is for you. What's your approach?
edited July 10


  • wunderkindkingwunderkindking Member Posts: 992 Member Member Posts: 992 Member
    I feel the need to clarify that I'm not *afraid* of that upper limit - I just kept hearing it called a scream weight here and borrowed it.

    I'm not sure what I will ultimately do, and I'm not too fussed about it - just curious about other people's mentality about it. I kind of expect some ebb and flow in weight - largely seasonally actually, and to stay somewhat involved in MFP because I like the community and it keeps me paying attention.

    I've always been super imprecise at logging - consistent, not precise - so how that evolves will be interesting and probably involve a lot of experimenting.

    Right now, temporary (I hope) injury aside all my goals are fitness/activity related. I'd LIKE to get down a few more, but I have a hard time caring now that I'm really, actually, into vanity weight territory AND both lighter and more fit than I've been in decades. I just want to DO THINGS, mostly.
  • sijomialsijomial Member Posts: 18,684 Member Member Posts: 18,684 Member
    "MaltedTea wrote:

    In short, this may be maintaining but I still have health targets to aim for. That keeps me vigilant.

    That's a great point.

  • Speakeasy76Speakeasy76 Member Posts: 759 Member Member Posts: 759 Member
    So, I've actually had 3 different goal weight ranges since I initially started using MFP over 9 years ago. When I first lost weight, I was at the higher end of the BMI and totally ok with that. I tracked for a little while after achieving my goal, but then fell off a bit. I was (and still am not) super precise with logging in that I rarely measure or weigh what I eat, but it's worked for me. After I stopped tracking I generally maintained that loss and at some points was able to lose a bit more without tracking. I was happy at that weight range for quite awhile. When my pants started getting tighter and I was reaching the upper limit of the BMI was when I knew I had to do something different.

    When I decided I wanted to try for my true "goal weight" and went from a high-ish BMI to a mid-range BMI over a year ago, I logged back onto MFP and have been tracking ever since. Again, not super-precise but it worked. Since I reached that "true goal weight" I've since lost about 10 more pounds, not so much intentionally but by having to cut out certain foods for an elimination diet. I know that if I want to maintain this weight since a weight I haven't been at probably in maybe 30 years as a teenager, I will still most likely need to track. I feel comfortable at this weight and am not hungry, and in fact some days need to eat more than my hunger tells me to to hit my target. I also track to ensure I hit my protein and fiber targets as well, since I take strength training somewhat seriously. I also have a bad habit of mindless eating, which is why I used MFP in the first place--to keep me accountable.

    I don't know how religious I'll be with tracking once I've maintained this weight range for awhile. I think my "scream" weight is more based on how my clothes fit...if I feel them starting to get tighter and it's not just that they shrunk (which they do actually do sometimes), then I'll need to re-evaluate things. I also know that I'll be healthy at any weight in the normal BMI range, so it's also a matter of re-evaluating my own personal goals--do I just want to be healthy, am I wanting to gain more muscle, or am I wanting to look a certain way as well?
  • cmriversidecmriverside Member Posts: 31,614 Member Member Posts: 31,614 Member
    I agree with most of sijomial's post except I don't have massive exercise burns like he does, just regular, daily moderate exercise.

    ...and I do still log food. Maintenance for me is a five pound range and the upper end requires action. I weigh myself almost every day.

    With that said, the first year after my biggest weight loss (about 70 pounds) I did struggle with finding satiety and calorie level. I was hungry a lot.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 20,833 Member Member, Premium Posts: 20,833 Member
    I think I'm sloppier about maintenance than most of those who've commented so far.

    Oversimplifying, I hit and overshot goal in early 2016, crept back up to goal range, hung out there for maybe 6 months, then started creeping up super slowly: Mostly down in Summer a few pounds, up in Winter a few pounds, but each next high a pound or two higher, each next low a pound or two higher, too. All of that nonsense was in a healthy weight range, so I wasn't too stressed about it. My original goal had been 120, and the highest high (trend-line) in there was upper 130s-ish.

    Eventually, around Fall 2019, jeans got tight, along with other parts of my wardrobe. I hate to clothes shop with a fiery passion. That was an adequate action trigger. I started creeping weight downward super-slowly, because my heart wasn't in it for a significant deficit, and health is my main principle, not cute, so it didn't feel like an urgent crisis. (The hate to shop thing is a parallel track, obviously.) That went OK, then slowed, then the pandemic reduced social life/restaurant meals and it got easier again.

    This time, I'm working on stabilizing around 125 pounds, which is where I am now.

    That whole narrative doesn't seem structured, but it's kind of sloppily intentional, I think. I guess I sort of provisionally trust myself not to be super stupid, and I feel like I have the tools to accomplish that. It's 5+ years of what I'd call maintenance, at this point.

    My basic routine is to keep counting (mostly), calorie bank a tiny amount most days (maybe 100-150 calories), allow some over-goal days for fun (sometimes way over goal), and keep an eye on the scale, and my jeans' fit. I weigh daily, put the numbers in Libra. The process for creeping my weight down was mainly reducing the frequency/magnitude of the over-goal days, letting the calorie bank turn into a weight loss deficit more of the time, maybe going under goal some days when I was less hungry, too.

    I skip logging some days, now, mostly when it's a super unusual thing that either would be annoying to log (looking up a lot of new stuff, time consuming disproportionate to value) or that would be so wild-a** an estimate that it doesn't really feel worth the effort. (I did log those kind of things during loss, and for some months in maintenance, mainly to get a good handle on maintenance needs. I'd do that again if things seem to change, and it seems useful again.)

    I hate to say it, but I think "how to do maintenance" is another one of those things that's very personal, very dependent on a particular individual's preferences, strengths, limitations, risks, etc.
  • MaxxittMaxxitt Member Posts: 1,279 Member Member Posts: 1,279 Member
    I'm currently in maintenance after successfully halting and then reversing the "bracket creep" that happened once I dropped a big bunch of weight (2015). I decided in Sept of 2020 enough was enough and started curtailing my food intake intentionally until about mid-April, at which point I stopped measuring food intake and decided to see what "intuitive eating" felt like. After ending the planned "deficit" eating I immediately put on 2-3 # which I decided to chalk up to water weight and just keep an eye on. I weigh daily and enter the data into "Happy Scale" which crunches the #s to show trends. I've stayed within 5# of my original "lowest weight" for 3 months. In terms of maintenance, that's like a minute. I am not weighing any foods or guesstimating calories but I am also making some intentional choices and noticing how my appetite varies in relation. Most recently, this has meant eating a fairly light breakfast a few hours after I get up, a really hearty second meal sometime before 3 PM, and a satisfying but not heavy evening meal. This seems to be working in that I don't feel like grazing between meals and there hasn't been a sustained weight uptick. But I also chalk up what feels like "success" to being quite active, walking my pooch 4-5 miles a day (not all at once) in addition to incidental activity. I remember that after my big weight loss 6 years ago, the weight creep didn't start until the activity levels dropped.
  • mjglantzmjglantz Member Posts: 153 Member Member Posts: 153 Member
    I'm curious about this -

    "If you're in maintenance, do you expect to stay strictly within a calorie 'budget' and maintain your weight consistently (barring scale weight fluctuations via water or whatever)? Do you expect your weight to drift up to a 'scream weight' and then gradually lower it (with or without tracking)? Track your calories and allow for some gain/loss ANYWAY and have a scream weight where you switch to a deficit or intentionally gain? Something else entirely?"

    When I hit my first goal weight (around 172) I didn't do much except my weight kept going down. A couple of months later I had a heart attack and started in on cardia rehab. That combined with moving to an even healthier diet got my weight of 162 which is where I expected to stay. Gradually increased calories but also increased the exercise and within about 6 months got to the mid 140's where I've stayed since fall of 2013. I don't have a strict calorie budget although I aim to be under 2,000/day on average for actual calories. Don't really "eat back" the calories.

    I expect to have some fluctuations and weigh myself on Tuesday, weds, and Thursday and if by Thursday my weight is up more than 3 lbs from my goal of 142 I will cut back slightly. I exercise every day and even if my weight is up a little, I don't over compensate. About the only thing I'll do if I see a slight uptick is to pay closer attention to snacking especially at night.
  • charmmethcharmmeth Member Posts: 915 Member Member Posts: 915 Member
    @wunderkindking, I am definitely still learning how maintenance is going to be for me. One thing I do know, from experience, is that if I don't keep an eye on things I will end up back where I started (top end of overweight/borderline obese in bmi). That seems to be my natural "trigger weight", but having now lost form their twice, I'd rather not get back there. So for me part of being in maintenance is having a mechanism to trigger a response long before (i.e. about 10kg before) I get there. My way of doing that at present is to weigh in every day and to go back to logging and eating at a deficit if my rolling 7-day average goes over 77kg. My aim is to keep my monthly average weight within my maintenance range. My narrow range is 75kg +/- 0.5 kg; my wide range iss 75kg +/- 2.5 kg. At present I am out of the narrow range but within my wide range, and am not logging.

  • NVintageNVintage Member Posts: 904 Member Member Posts: 904 Member
    I can't imagine counting calories for the rest of my life, but I agree to each their own!:) I do think i'll have to keep a check on my weight with the scale, and maybe start watching calories whenever I see 139-140 lbs...I generally eat pretty healthy, but it's just so easy to gain weight for most of us as we get older and less active!
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