Maintenance Busted!

After losing 70#, I successfully maintained for 6 months. My idea was to settle in, give myself a break, then hunker in to lose the last 10. My "drop back" to 1700 started March 1, and I have since gained 10 pounds. Up to 160. It's not water weight, or muscle or food in my tract. Its the result of completely losing control of my eating several days a week.

I'm fine on 1700 for 2, 3 or 4 days, then BAM -- 3500, sometimes 4000. Enough to wipe out the entire weeks work plus some. It's not true hunger causing this, it's like a little rebel in my belly screaming for me to feed it.

Has anyone else experienced something similar when transitioning from long-term maintenance back to cutting? Is there a physical/clinical explanation beyond the caveman concept? Perhaps knowing a solid reason would give me the tools to get over the hump. Thanks everyone.


  • seska422
    seska422 Posts: 3,217 Member
    Some people can take a break and then return to cutting with a renewed sense of purpose. I know from past experience that I'm not one of those people. Changing my calories (up or down) upsets the apple cart and it takes me a while to find a new groove.

    All I can suggest is to distract yourself by doing something away from food availability on days where you feel like a bottomless pit.
  • nowine4me
    nowine4me Posts: 3,985 Member
    Thanks Seska422. If I can catch myself in the moment, it's helps to go for a quick walk outside, that's good advice.

    I will add to this post that my cravings have been very specific. And no, I'm not pregnant. For example early in the month I saw something Salted Caramel that caught my eye -- so I bought ALL the salted caramel things like Biscotti, Noosa yogurt, Halo Top, etc and ate them. The next was cookies and cream, then yesterday Cinnamon Toast Crunch set me off. Which I don't even particularly like.
  • nowine4me
    nowine4me Posts: 3,985 Member
    @Trina2040 - "you control the food, it doesn't control you" I need to keep that in front of me 24/7.

    @Machka9 - I was training for a half marathon, which I completed last year while losing. That's a really good point, I do still run 3 days a week and lift 3 days a week, but I'm not working toward anything specific. I'll give that one some thought. Thank you!
  • swim777
    swim777 Posts: 599 Member
    seska422 wrote: »
    Some people can take a break and then return to cutting with a renewed sense of purpose. I know from past experience that I'm not one of those people. Changing my calories (up or down) upsets the apple cart and it takes me a while to find a new groove.

    All I can suggest is to distract yourself by doing something away from food availability on days where you feel like a bottomless pit.

    Sounds like great advice! I'm also not one of those people! I'll have a great week and be so motivated and then blow all my progress with a crazy day or two! I'm trying to lower my range and struggling with that at the moment, but I'm GOING to get there!
  • starfruit132
    starfruit132 Posts: 291 Member
    That cinnamon toast crunch is evil lol. I cannot even have a bowl for the same reasons, and I don't even like it either. On another post, someone suggested to eat more meat when you get cravings. Not sure if you like meat, but it is not easy to overeat because you need to cook it and it fills you up.
  • GoldBikiniGoals
    GoldBikiniGoals Posts: 47 Member
    Is 1700 maybe too low? Depending on what maintenance is for you, with only 10 lbs to lose you could likely run a smaller deficit (like 250 cals a day) and not feel the need to binge. Might be worth a try.1900-2100 cals is my body's happy zone where I don't have big binge days. Lower than that and I'll never be consistent.
  • Anniebotnen
    Anniebotnen Posts: 332 Member
    I agree with GoldBikiniGoals that 1700 may be too low. Is that total, or do you eat exercise calories back? How much protein? I have learned that I need to keep my protein at 30-35% to keep from getting hungry (also because I lift). And I avoid trigger foods. The main culprit for me is ice cream. When I really want some, I go to a nice ice cream place and get a cup with one or two scoops. I don't keep it in my house. I've been maintaining for the last 2 1/2 years.
  • BeeerRunner
    BeeerRunner Posts: 728 Member
    Whenever I go on vacation I take a break. I usually gain 5 to 8 lbs. It can be hard to go back in calorie deficit, but I never go really overboard. I may eat up to maintenance, but not 3000 calories or anything. I do find if I'm not doing something, I tend to eat out of boredom. When I stay busy, I'm less likely to snack.
  • Gamliela
    Gamliela Posts: 2,469 Member
    If I go 400 calories over my tdee once in a while it doesn't change my weight. So maybe a few 'higher' days, but not too high, would be ok for you. You can always eat under your tdee next day to make up for it. I know this works for some people, make your calories a weekly goal amount, not daily. just imo :)
  • becca5446
    becca5446 Posts: 14 Member
    OP, thank you for posting. I am struggling with the same thing (incidentally, our workout routines are virtually identical, I run every other day and lift on the opposing days, five days a week). I hit maintenance last summer, and stayed there until recently but its like suddenly I can never be full and I constantly crave sweet things. This seemed to coincide with when my brain adjusted to my new size, if you know what I mean. I've gained ten pounds and cant seem to control the impulse to eat sweets to get the ten pounds back off! Please keep us updated how things go for you because I need help too! :)
  • lilawolf
    lilawolf Posts: 1,690 Member
    I purposely eat lower during the week so that I can have a 2500-3000 calorie day (or 2). I always have during both loss and maintenance. Maybe it would help to know that yes, you CAN have a huge serving of X on Friday. Easier to put it off (IMO) than to say no. I did this even when I wasn't working out as much as I do now. A quarter of a family size chicken garlic pizza and a whole bottle of wine on Fridays pretty much without fail. Maybe the same idea would help you? I'm trying to decide if my splurge is going to be pizza or boneless wings this week.... With my workouts, I might even be able to do both.

    Make sure you're eating your exercise calories back too or if you want to do the TDEE method, you might want to recalculate. 1700 is likely too low with 6 workouts a week.
  • nowine4me
    nowine4me Posts: 3,985 Member
    Thanks for the input everyone--great advice here. Getting plenty of sleep is super important to keeping on track too, so adding that to the list. Managed to string together a few good days--just in time to leave on vacation Thurs!
  • nxd10
    nxd10 Posts: 4,571 Member
    I found when I upped my calories a little I'd add in carbs first. That made me really hungry for more food. If I was careful to up my calories with protein or fat I was fine. It's a carb thing and much more likely if you're a bit insulin resistant from being long term overweight.

    And congratulations! You're still doing okay. Get back on the wagon.
  • victoria_1024
    victoria_1024 Posts: 915 Member
    I've been maintaining since April so almost a year. I noticed my weight slowly creeping up because of holidays, vacation, and overall lack of activity in the winter months. I was only a couple pounds over my maintenance range but decided to buckle down and take off a few pounds. I did it easily but then had a weekend out of town and put them all back on again. Buckled down again and then all last week I really struggled with eating compulsively for no apparent reason. I don't know why my brain is fighting me on this right now! Every time I decide to eat at a deficit again for a while, I can't stick to it long and end up binging or overeating.

    Currently I'm up about 4-5 lbs from where I want to be. Probably some is water weight though from overeating this weekend. Stayed within my calorie range today but I switched back maintenance just to see how that goes and try to reset my system. It's tough.
  • icemom011
    icemom011 Posts: 999 Member
    What if you tried to ease into cutting by lowering your calories very gradually, kind of slowly tricking your brain into deficit. Sort of the reverse on going into maintenance? Maybe 50-100 calories every week or two, take your time with it, continue with your training and do your best. I like your plan overall, plus lots of good advice from mfpers here. I'm currently trying to cut as well, just to go down a few more pounds after maintaining for 4 months. I have good days, and not so much. I think i will employ some of the things mentioned here as well, and obviously you know what to do, good luck
  • jeepinshawn
    jeepinshawn Posts: 642 Member
    I did a bulk over the winter, my first one, and gained 10lbs or so, and just this month started cutting. I lost interest in body building and want to ruin and just be overall athletic. So I'm on about a 500-750 calorie cut. Some days more some days less depending upon activities levels. Logging again had been harder then I remember. I think I'm going to try doing the deficit on my 5 work days and day at maintenence on my 2 days off...