Why is Maintaining So Hard?



  • albayin
    albayin Posts: 2,524 Member
    I've been in maintenance since since January of this year, and I've learned it;s all trial and error. I had a difficult time starting out because I kept losing weight even though I was eating those maintenance calories plus my cardio calories back. It took me a few months to mess with my calorie intake and I've been successfully maintaining within a plus or minus 3 to 4 calorie range for the last few months.

    It's also important to remember that weight fluctuates and just because you're up a day or two does not mean you've gained fat. Fat appears over time.

    I wish I had that problem of "keep losing weight eating at maintenance". sigh....
  • albayin
    albayin Posts: 2,524 Member
    I have been maintaining for past decade, unvolunteerly...I wanted to lose weight but it turned out no matter what did, my weight just pops back to the same at the end...:(
  • ShannonMpls
    ShannonMpls Posts: 1,936 Member
    I've been maintaining a 133-pound loss within a 5 pound range for almost two years. I weigh a few times a month, and I've been below and above my range but that never lasts long. I always feel like a smug jerk when I post this, but I'll say it: maintenance is easy for me.*

    While I was losing weight, I wasn't one of those people who kept dropping calories until I was eating 1200. I actually increased cals as I went along, so when the time came to maintain, all I had to do was eat a little more. And for me, this means I stick to a deficit M-Th, and eat at an unlogged or partially-logged surplus F-Sun. If I find that my weight is going up a bit (and I can tell by how my jeans fit, not necessarily the scale), I log one or two weekend days at maintenance for a couple weeks. It helps that I never "went on a diet". Instead, I decided that my old way of living was not allowing me to be as healthy or happy as I deserved to be, and I made changes that I intended to hang onto forever. I don't know that I'll log my food forever, but with no diet to go off of, maintenance wasn't really a big shift for me. Just a little more beer and pizza :)

    I still exercise the same way I did when I was losing weight, but I relax a bit - instead of religiously lifting weights full body three times a week, I'll go through spurts of 4-5 days a week of split lifting. or if I'm into running or a group ex cardio class, I'll relax lifting down to 2-3 times a week. If it's a nice day, I'll go on a long walk instead. I'm flexible. I do what I *like* in terms of exercise.

    Shifting to maintenance was a bit of an adjustment as I missed the accolades and pride of seeing the scale drop, but now my pride comes from different things: choosing not to eat a cookie I don't really want during a boring meeting; lifting more than I did last month; running a half marathon.

    My biggest motivator for staying this weight is how much more fun my life is now. I love being active. I love shopping at any store I want. I liked my life before, but I am so much happier now and this "lifestyle" I created while losing weight, while occasionally difficult, is so flipping worth it.

    So...maintenance isn't really harder or easier than losing weight for me; both were pretty simple, actually. Both have challenges, both have rewards, but really they're the same: continuing habits that lead to a healthier body and, for me, happier life.

    * For now. My lifestyle allows me to maintain habits that I find essential to maintenance. If I become sick, have a horrible stressor occur in my life, or some other event that requires me to radically alter how I currently live, maintenance likely won't be so easy.
  • Iwishyouwell
    Iwishyouwell Posts: 1,888 Member
    Because, for a lot of people, it's much easier to take on a major quest and then ride off into an easy, happily ever after.

    Except it doesn't work like that. In weight loss, the quest is ever going. And a lot of people can't deal with the fact that they'll, on some level, have to be mindful of what they eat for the rest of their lives.

    Also reaching a goal body can easily deceive a person into thinking they're "normal", and they then start to eat like other "normal", always thinner people. If feels like some kind of freedom, to finally be one of those people who seemingly eat what they like, and still remain thin. A lot of people fall into this trap. I know I once did.
  • jenilla1
    jenilla1 Posts: 11,118 Member
    I've been in maintenance for over three years and I find that it's super easy for me. I just keep logging and MFP just keeps working like a charm...:drinker:
  • csy108
    csy108 Posts: 58 Member
    It's hard for me because my maintenance calories are still really low. I have been maintain around 1450 for the last year. I've tried adding more, but I start gaining.

    Weight training might help you build some lean muscle and let you (force you?) to eat more calories. I don't think you need to be a bodybuilder for this to happen. I've been lifting weights for only 15-20 minutes a day three days a week for the past three weeks. I already feel stronger and have noticeably increased muscle mass. I'm a 31yo male so I'm sure that's a big plus, but it's all proportional. If you could strength train enough to eat 100 to 200 calories more per day it'd be worth it, right?
  • lizzy00125
    lizzy00125 Posts: 138
    I've been in maintenance mode for about 2 years now. I don't find it difficult. The hardest part for me was to trust my serving sizes. I stopped using my digital kitchen scale. The only reason why I started counting calories and measuring again is because I plan to do a competition in July. It is all about remembering what normal serving sizes are and to not overindulge. It is fine to go out to dinner and really enjoy a high calorie meal but you have to remember that can't happen every meal nor can it happen every day. Everything in moderation.
  • csy108
    csy108 Posts: 58 Member
    A lot of people don't make a gradual change in their eating habits. They go from eating, for example, 2500 calories a day to 1200 calories a day. They hit their goal and go back to old ways of eating because they didn't teach themselves long term, new habits. I think this is probably one of the more prevalent reasons that people have a hard time maintaining.

    The craziest thing to me is I look at what I'm eating, 1800-1900 calories a day, and I keep thinking that this is totally doable but that it's going to be hard when I lose some weight and have to start reducing my calories even further.

    But then I look at a TDEE calculator, and I see that with the same physical activity (slightly active), height, and next year's age, but at a healthy weight (by BMI), waist size and body fat %, my maintenance will actually be almost 200 calories more per day than what I'm eating now. That's CRAAAAZY to me and I will believe it when I see it. And I can't wait to see it.
  • lisansc
    lisansc Posts: 14
    Sometimes your life changes and that makes maintaining very difficult. I lost 50 pounds and kept it off for a year, then I quit smoking and quickly gained 15 pounds....working on those now :)
  • emmawatts22
    emmawatts22 Posts: 28
    bumping for later
  • jlahorn
    jlahorn Posts: 377 Member
    Would it be possible to add more exercise to the mix? I don't know if you're exercising at all right now, but you could add getting to eat another 300 - 500 calories a day could be very worth spending 30-45 minutes/day exercising.

    It's a good thought, but I already do an hour of exercise (usualy Zumba, step, hiking) 4 to 6 days a week. When I try to add more I start getting overtraining injuries.

    This is just my life. I am coping, but I clearly haven't figured out how not to be bitter about it :)
  • lindsey1979
    lindsey1979 Posts: 2,395 Member
    Jlahorn -- what is your height and weight? I ask because unless you're really tiny, that amount of calories seems pretty low for maintenance with that amount of exercise. It makes me think that you may have something off that's keeping you that low -- like a thyroid condition or something.

    And adding some heavy lifting in may help -- help you to build more muscle over the longterm, which will allow you to eat more.
  • SezxyStef
    SezxyStef Posts: 15,268 Member
    I am 1/2lb from maintenance and feel that it wont be hard, but that's because I have a plan..I have maintained before (pregnancy kicked my butt) and it was not hard.

    I agree most people who say it's hard fall back into bad habits or they made such drastic changes to lose the weight and didn't learn moderation. They get lack, stop tracking, don't workout as much perhaps and to top it all off no new goals...boring so I have no weight related goals...more exercise, health and fitness goals...

    For me it's been a process. Albeit a bit scary...:bigsmile:

    I for the last 4 weeks have been reverse dieting, 100 extra on week 1 (1700), 100 extra week 2&3 (1800)

    I went up 2lbs between week 1 and 2...I was calm at first..water weight etc...but after 2 weeks and it wasn't gone I did start to "freak" bad bad bad...cortisol levels etc I had to just calm myself and remind myself maitenance for me is not 1800 it's just the increase in food replenishing glycogen etc..and then yup it's gone plus another 1/2lb today...but that is after I calmed myself this week....mental work is always good...

    I can't imagine going from TDEE-20% to TDEE if with 200 extra it was 2lbs...eek

    At the present time I have chosen to reverse up 50 Calories a week instead to my estimated maitenance of 2100 (based on calcs and iifym, mayoclinic and scooby average) hopefully be there by the first week of actual summer...:drinker:

    I also know for me scale weight is my least important measurment...BF%, tape measure, clothing size etc..

    Again imho (and it may sound harsh) if you want it bad enough you do what you need to do, for me that means logging, keeping up with my exercise (Lifting, walking, bike rides, HIIT) and keep an eye on the ball...
  • Francl27
    Francl27 Posts: 26,373 Member
    For me it's because if you have a deficit and eat over a little bit... you'll just maintain. Not a huge deal. If you're in maintenance and eat over, well... you'll gain.

    I'm probably going to keep a deficit forever to make up for those days.
  • ChrisM8971
    ChrisM8971 Posts: 1,067 Member
    For me it's because if you have a deficit and eat over a little bit... you'll just maintain. Not a huge deal. If you're in maintenance and eat over, well... you'll gain.

    I'm probably going to keep a deficit forever to make up for those days.

    I am approaching maintenance and this says it all for me, there is a complete change of view point

    When losing you have leeway on your calories and you still lose, I feel that when moving to maintenance you have to change your view to having a weight range rather than the calorie range.

    It seems a little scary to me as well but we have to try and remember that if we slip and gain a little more than the range we allow ourselves we do all have the experience to lose it again
  • brenn24179
    brenn24179 Posts: 2,144 Member
    I think it is hard. Been in maintenance for about a year. I can eat more which is good but I have been putting foods in that I haven't had in a while and it is hard to stop eating them. Complacency also is a problem, I think I have this and then quit weighing foods and nibbling a bit more and then up goes by weight about 5 lbs then work like the devil to get it back down and up again. Like they say pick your hard, hard being fat, hard watching calories. I think I will watch the calories, I like fitting in my clothes.
  • SezxyStef
    SezxyStef Posts: 15,268 Member
    For me it's because if you have a deficit and eat over a little bit... you'll just maintain. Not a huge deal. If you're in maintenance and eat over, well... you'll gain.

    I'm probably going to keep a deficit forever to make up for those days.

    I agree with you here.

    At 1800 a day atm I am good...through the week...I have actually prelogged the entire week and I am under my goal by almost 1000 and that is having treats everynight...I am satisfied with my food and don't have a need to eat more...

    This will probably be what I do when I hit maintenance...allow for those overages that are inevitable in the summer on the weekends sitting around the pool...stupid alcohol...:drinker: and ribs etc...

    That leaves me an extra 1500 for the weekends which is great.
  • mccindy72
    mccindy72 Posts: 7,001 Member
    The problem that many find with maintenance is that they play with the high side of the calorie goal. There isn't one. If you have a goal, you stick to it. Once you're done for the day, you're done for the day. If you want to go over your calorie goal, you need to burn more calories. That's how maintenance works. When losing, it's easy to get it into your head that you can 'cheat' a little bit and go over your goal, and you just won't lose that day, you just maintain. If you do that too often on maintenance, you'll gain. It's not that hard, you just have to discipline yourself to stick to your goal. It's easier if you train yourself to do it while you're still in losing mode, with your deficit.
  • Cortelli
    Cortelli Posts: 1,369 Member
    Maintenance is boring, quite frankly. Weight loss, while difficult, is exciting. Your body is improving, you get new clothes, you see that number on the scale - you feel awesome! Maintenance is just...the same. There's no immediate, tangible reward for your effort like seeing the number drop. Which is why I think setting feasible fitness goals is so very important to keep the lifestyle going. Get those tangible reward moments by smashing weight or distance or speed records - you'll want to eat properly to help you get there too!

    This feels right to me. Not in maintenance for all that long in recent times -- have been in deficit, maintenance, and surplus for months at a stretch in the last year. It really is too soon to tell, but I think -- just *think* mind you -- that maintenance feels a touch harder than either bulking or losing simply because it feels like there is less of a tangible, identifiable goal one is working towards. That said, I don't think the difficulty is all that different between the three states - it is about discipline and planning and making smart choices in line with that plan - and then it is about adherence.
  • Gramps251
    Gramps251 Posts: 738 Member
    Why not just calculate how many calories you'd need to maintain the weight you want to be and eat that to lose weight? The 'starve yourself, then change your eating habits again' thing has lead me to gain and lose the same 25 to 30 lbs. my whole life.

    If you eat at maintenance from the beginning you won't lose the weight as fast but when you reach your goal you'll already have taught yourself healthy eating habits. Slow and easy.