What does maintenance look like for you?

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For those of you who have reached your ultimate goal weight and are maintaining - would you please share what that looks like for you?


I am in this for the long run. I am making changes I believe are sustainable long term. I still have a while to go. But I am trying to wrap my mind around what maintenance will look like. I have been eating at 1200 calories or less for months now. Eating more kind of seems crazy. Was it difficult to increase calories? Do you still weigh and measure with same intensity? Do you still track your weight? I would appreciate hearing about your experiences. Do you have any advice for when people get there?


Thank you.

Replies

  • Hiawassee88
    Hiawassee88 Posts: 35,754 Member
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    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10087100/what-nobody-tells-you-about-losing-weight/p569

    Here are 569 pages of insights and tips for losing weight and the maintenance phase. It's not difficult for me to bump up calories. I always know where I'm at with my clothes. Keep your head engaged in the process. Don't stop wrestling with yourself when you reach your dream weight. It's easy to fall back into old behaviors and habits.

    A new favorite quote. "Unconscious behavior is the reason for most of our predicaments. Become aware and stay aware of what you do and you'll be able to change it." Focus for waaaaay down the road.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    edited August 2022
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    "Eating more kind of seems crazy."
    Maths is all about logic - you need to take the emotion out of your eating goal.

    "Was it difficult to increase calories?"
    Not at all, I like food. I lost at 1lb a week so when I hit my goal I simply bumped my weekly calories up by 3500, eventually needed to eat more than that to maintain. I seemed to have a bit of adaptive thermogenesis so my initial bump up in calories wasn't enough after a couple of months as the AT reversed itself. With you eating so low you should anticipate having to do the same thing so get used to making adjustments.
    My activity and exercise has ramped up significantly over the years so I eat far more at maintenance than I did as a chubster - again adjustments in my eating required, even just from lifestyle changes such as retiring.
    (Many people anxious about eating more simply walk their calories up over a period of weeks, whichever you choose you will have to learn to adjust calories/food intake as you won't be on the same allowance for the rest of your life.)

    "Do you still weigh and measure with same intensity?"
    No I haven't tracked my food for years. I did continue tracking food initially at maintenance as generally I find changing one variable at a time a better idea and I experimented with different eating schedules until I settled on what made maintenance easiest and most enjoyable. I also did a deliberate recomp in the first year of maintenance and the extra nutritional precision from food logging was helpful.
    I do track my exercise though as it's highly variable and often huge calorie expenditure, again part of being mindful about my calorie and nutrition needs.

    "Do you still track your weight?"
    I have weighed daily for the vast majority of my adult life (the one extended period when I didn't saw me hitting my highest ever weight - lesson learned!). It lets me keep an eye on my weight trend. Day to day fluctuations don't bother me as they are expected and understood. Knowing where I am in my maintenance range helps with mindful eating as it sets the context. My one hard rule is that if I hit my upper weight limit I take action to reverse the trend.



    PS - head on over to the Maintaining Weight forum, you will find lost of useful information there.
  • mlrtri
    mlrtri Posts: 425 Member
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    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the resources. I first had doubt that I could put in what it takes to lose weight. Now that I am having success I now worry that I won’t be able to maintain. I am determined to get to a healthy weight and stay there.
  • claireychn074
    claireychn074 Posts: 1,432 Member
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    I have maintained for over four years and I’m probably one of the more unusual people in that I still track everyday. But, I estimate a lot of things like veggies, and I track mostly to ensure I get enough protein for my sport. I would have a tendency to eat high carb and low protein if I wasn’t conscious of what I eat. I weigh semi regularly - more when I have a competition on the horizon as I compete in body weight categories. I think the key to coping with maintenance is realising that it’s not static. Your weight will still fluctuate a bit and you need to decide what range you are comfortable with. Your activity may change your shape so your weight may change with that, and you may find out you weigh more in the winter than summer (for instance). You will just need to feel your way once you got a weight you are comfortable with, and realise that it’s not a static stage.
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,883 Member
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    mlrtri wrote: »
    …Now that I am having success I now worry that I won’t be able to maintain. I am determined to get to a healthy weight and stay there...

    Amen. I have vowed I will never be one of the “I’m Back” crowd.

    For me, it’s been about increasing calories, continuing to log religiously, and monitoring weight carefully.

    I’ve accepted that I’ll be weighing and logging for the rest of my life. It’s second nature now, so it’s not a hassle.

    What I’ve found is, I maintain at much higher calories now than predicted, but then again, my activity level is high because I feel so much better.

    When Covid lockdown hit, I realized that it was sink or swim time. I hadn’t lost so much weight to put it back on sitting around the house. So I set a personal goal that I wanted to turn my “move ring” X number of times per day.

    Having a solid, usual, recordable goal really helped me out.

    My weight goes up and down within a 5’ish pound range, particularly because we are traveling again to visit new grandbaby, family overseas, and are now planning vacations again. I’m afraid that, when I don’t have a scale while traveling, everything just goes out the window for me, so being prepared to immediately resume logging and weighing the day after I get home is also critical.

    Maintenance is way easier than losing, however, can be way harder because the temptation “just another one” or “I’ll have some of that” is always lurking, and falsely appears more acceptable when you’re at goal.
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 9,718 Member
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    I've maintained weight for over a decade, and still log calories. I will admit to doing more estimation now, rather than exact measurement, ala "that looks like about 8 ounces." Daily tracking requires about a minute total out of my day, and reminds me that I should be intentional about snacks and desserts. Do I still have them? Almost daily, yes. But I plan them into my day, completely guilt-free since they do not put me over numbers on a regular basis.

    Actually weighing myself is done once per week. Too much variation can happen from one day to the next.
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,883 Member
    edited August 2022
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    Another thing that works for me is continuing to eat below maintenance 5 or 6 days a week, and enjoying a heavy food day, too.

    I can eat 4-5000 calories, be horrified and awash in guilt, and then hit that 7 Day Average button and realize I’m still averaging well below the calorie goal I ought to be at.
  • westrich20940
    westrich20940 Posts: 889 Member
    edited August 2022
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    I did not have as high of a calorie deficit as you, I was eating ~15-1600 cals/day in a deficit .... really it was only like 100-200 (give or take) lower than my TDEE. I also got back into running at the start of covid, and have been hiking a lot so my general activity level is WAY higher than it was in the couple years before that.

    So it really has just been more about getting back into good communication with my body. When I started logging on MFP, I knew that I didn't want to do that forever, or even for very long. I think counting calories/logging anything for a lot of people can be a very slippery slope to some really bad habits/behaviors. So I really only actively logged my food/workouts for ~1yr.

    I did have a 'goal weight' in mind, but in hindsight...I wish I would have moved to non-weight/body size related goals earlier. My motivation now isn't a size or number on a scale but my running progress. I am *so* much better at listening to my body now - and am really focusing on simply listening and giving it what it's telling me it needs. That's really hard at the start but if you keep it in mind throughout the whole process .... it'll click and get easier and easier.

    I will also say that the 'goal weight' that I had in mind was just a .... guide. I got lighter than that (while still within the 'healthy weight range' for my height/sex, but after ~6 weeks of seeing myself in the mirror, decided that was definitely too skinny. Gained some back. And I've gained even more back. But, I eat when I'm hungry, I don't eat myself miserable, and I'm making progress with my running and that's really all I want. I'm more active and more mobile...so, I am far less concerned with the number on the scale or the size of my pants. That's something that I know makes people nervous, like you get to this 'goal weight' you've got in your head and then you are terrified to eat more and possible gain weight back. I really encourage those on this journey to think about what other things are motivating you and really pour your effort into those things. I wanna run a 1/2 marathon, and then a full one if I think I can -- that's my goal now. Whatever size I am along the way must be the size I gotta be to get 26.2 miles under my shoes. So...don't be too precious about the 'goal weight' that you set out to be, that might not be right for you and your goals really in the end. Trust your body.

    Edit: I weight myself maybe once/month...just to see -- I'll notice if gained/lost weight far faster by feeling how my clothes fit. I do not track my food or workouts anymore.
  • csplatt
    csplatt Posts: 1,064 Member
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    For maintenance, eating about 300-350 cals more for day to me is only be a granola bar and some chips at lunch. Or a second tablespoon of peanut butter with my banana and a dessert at night. So it’s actually not as different as it may seem for me. Doesn’t feel like too much food.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,796 Member
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    mlrtri wrote: »
    For those of you who have reached your ultimate goal weight and are maintaining - would you please share what that looks like for you?


    I am in this for the long run. I am making changes I believe are sustainable long term. I still have a while to go. But I am trying to wrap my mind around what maintenance will look like. I have been eating at 1200 calories or less for months now. Eating more kind of seems crazy. Was it difficult to increase calories?

    No, not difficult.

    I chose to slow my loss rate as I got closer to goal, then when I reached goal weight to add back calories in smaller increments, like 100 at a time, then watch to see if I was still losing.

    I did that in part because I know myself: If I added 250 or 500 calories all at once, I'd be tempted to add some big treat food every day, and I didn't want that temptation. By adding in smaller increments a week or so apart, I tended to add small, pleasant, but nutritious tweaks to my eating patterns. (That doesn't mean I never have big treats! I just didn't want that as a habitual daily pattern.)

    I didn't do anything to lose weight - in the sense of food restrictions - that I wasn't willing to do permanently to stay at a healthy weight, except for a moderate calorie deficit. That made the switch to maintenance pretty easy - just the change in calorie level.

    I do calorie bank in maintenance - eat a bit below maintenance most days, in order to indulge more sometimes.

    Do you still weigh and measure with same intensity?

    I still do it, but not with the same intensity (I guess). I sometimes skip logging meals or even days, especially if a lot of foods were in there that I'd be rough-estimating anyway. I logged everything, every day, when I was losing and in the early stages of maintenance. Partly, that was to be sure of my calorie needs, because I'd figured out pretty fast that both MFP's and my fitness tracker's estimates were pretty far off. (Rare, but it can happen.)

    When I do log, I still do it with the same precision. It's just a habit.
    Do you still track your weight?

    Absolutely. That's part of the guard-rails that keep me from getting way off course, especially if I skip some logging - that, and clothing fit. I am not going to do another comprehensive wardrobe replacement. I hate to clothes-shop, with an intense fiery passion.

    Unless away from home, I weigh myself every morning, after bathroom, before food/drink, in the same state of (un)dress, and log the result in my weight-trending app. But I've weighed myself daily for years and years, even before trying to lose weight. I used to log it on graph paper, as a dot at the intersection of date and weight. No, I'm not obsessive, but I am a data geek in various ways - this is one.
    I would appreciate hearing about your experiences. Do you have any advice for when people get there?

    I have advice for before people get there: Figure out the sustainable eating and activity patterns you're going to use in maintenance, and groove them in as habits, before you get to goal weight. No need to do the entire end-to-end weight loss process in the same way you plan to maintain, but I think it's really a good plan to get the basic habits well-established before reaching maintenance. Otherwise, you risk getting there and doing that oh-so-deal-killing "go back to normal" thing.

    For maintenance itself, the only advice I can think of is to plan to use a maintenance weight range of a few pounds, a range that will encompass your normal variation in water weight. A single goal weight isn't realistic. Pick a range, and if you go above it more than briefly, cut back a little. If you go below it more than briefly, eat a little more. Don't let things get crazy out of hand - denial is unhelpful. Losing a pound or few is easy. Losing 20 or so is substantially harder.

    Other than that, everyone's best maintenance strategy will have different details. It has to be practical for your preferences, strengths and limitations . . . not anyone else's.

    Best wishes - you can handle it!
  • sollyn23l2
    sollyn23l2 Posts: 1,673 Member
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    What most people generally find is that maintenence is boring. Really boring. Like, incredibly boring. There's no inherent reward to it. The boredom is why most people give up and go back to overeating.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,615 Member
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    I am a much more... lax person than many people on MFP.

    First of all I never used a food scale and my calories were never below about 1500ish (ish becuse I don't weigh ANYTHING and never did), in going from just shy of 200lbs to 125, where I've been for just about a year.

    Anyway for me maintenance at first (6 months?) was still a lot of time on MFP forums, still logging, just eating an extra 250 or so calories. Because as I got close to goal my deficit and therefore speed of loss decreased. I was never willing to cut further than 1500 so it wasn't a big leap to add a couple of hundred back.

    Now? I basically log into mfp to keep my streak and as a reminder to stay mindful, participate in the forums sporadically and weigh myself. Rarely track unless I am having a protein issue. My weight bounces about 2-3 pounds over the course of a month based on hormone levels and life factors, occasionally as much as 5 - so the range I guess I stay in is 120-130. My pants fit, I don't care. My average calories per day are roughly... 2200-2300. At a guess. (I am active. Way more active than I was before loss and I was plenty active then)

    But DO be aware that even if you stay very precise in logging and weighing, your weight is going to fluctuate based on hydration/sodium/hormones/exercise/air-travel/time of day/etc It is not and will not be a static number. Don't panic at it.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,615 Member
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    mlrtri wrote: »
    …Now that I am having success I now worry that I won’t be able to maintain. I am determined to get to a healthy weight and stay there...

    Amen. I have vowed I will never be one of the “I’m Back” crowd.

    For me, it’s been about increasing calories, continuing to log religiously, and monitoring weight carefully.

    I’ve accepted that I’ll be weighing and logging for the rest of my life. It’s second nature now, so it’s not a hassle.

    What I’ve found is, I maintain at much higher calories now than predicted, but then again, my activity level is high because I feel so much better.

    When Covid lockdown hit, I realized that it was sink or swim time. I hadn’t lost so much weight to put it back on sitting around the house. So I set a personal goal that I wanted to turn my “move ring” X number of times per day.

    Having a solid, usual, recordable goal really helped me out.

    My weight goes up and down within a 5’ish pound range, particularly because we are traveling again to visit new grandbaby, family overseas, and are now planning vacations again. I’m afraid that, when I don’t have a scale while traveling, everything just goes out the window for me, so being prepared to immediately resume logging and weighing the day after I get home is also critical.

    Maintenance is way easier than losing, however, can be way harder because the temptation “just another one” or “I’ll have some of that” is always lurking, and falsely appears more acceptable when you’re at goal.

    It isn't *more* acceptable at goal, but it's not unacceptable at goal or otherwise. In maintenance you lose the 'cushion' of a deficit but blowing up your calories for a day is never, at any stage, going to lead to you gaining signifigant weight.

    I know you mean 'doing that often' because yeah, that will lead to gain.

    Occasionally as in once a month or so? Makes zero difference for longer than a day.

    LIke loss maintaining is about what you do the vast majority of the time and what your normal looks like, not in aberrations from the normal. Rigidity may be psychologically necessary for you, but it isn't a physiological requirement.

  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 3,053 Member
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    To me, what maintenance looks like is regaining and re-losing the same 5 pounds over and over.

    I track calories, sometimes with precision and sometimes I slack off. If I'm traveling internationally or otherwise someplace where estimating calories is going to be wildly inaccurate, I don't bother. If something in my life is demanding all my energy and focus, I ease up. But generally, I'm a calorie counter. When I slack, the scale creeps up. Never down. When I am up 5 pounds, I tuck into a 250 kcal deficit for 10 weeks. As other posters said, the calorie difference between cutting and maintaining is pretty modest, so no -- it is not difficult at all for me to eat more. I "intuitively" eat more than I need to maintain, so it takes effort and awareness to eat the right amount.

    I have been maintaining >30 years (excluding pregnancy), and online calorie counting is by far --far and away -- the easiest way I have ever maintained. If I found an easier way that worked, I would do that instead.
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,883 Member
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    ahoy_m8 wrote: »
    To me, what maintenance looks like is regaining and re-losing the same 5 pounds over and over.

    This!!!!! Well (and succinctly) said, @ahoy_m8