The Truth About Maintenance

When people who do not know my weight loss story find out that 1) I used to weigh 305 pounds, 2) I lost 158 pounds and 3) I’ve kept it off for almost 13 years, they are usually surprised and always full of questions. Aside from all the usual questions about how I lost the weight, many people have questions about the maintenance part of weight loss. This isn’t surprising, because many studies show that only about five percent of people who lose weight keep it off for more than two years.

I don’t ever think about the fact that I’m unusual in keeping my weight off this long, but sometimes people make me feel as though I do something “magic” that they cannot do. I wanted to share today some truths about my life in maintenance to encourage you in the fact that you can maintain your weight once you reach your goal.

There is no magic formula to maintaining my weight. I balance calories and exercise just like I did when I was in the weight loss phase. I do not count calories officially, but I do pay attention to the calorie content of foods I eat. If I know I’m going to eat a brownie for dessert, I eat a very light lunch and skip the bread at dinner. If I eat more than I normally do due to hormonal or stressful days, then I cut back on my food intake for the next day or two.

I weigh everyday. I know this isn’t for everyone, but it works for me. In maintenance, weighing everyday helps me see that I’m within that 3-5 pound range I allow myself to float in. If I hit the top number, I take action immediately and cut out the extra food I’ve been eating. The scale jogs back down and I just continue on with life

I am satisfied with my weight. This is a big one for me. Could I be thinner? Yes, I could probably lose another 10 pounds. But for me, this weight where I have stayed all these years is fairly easy to maintain, whereas if I lost another 10 pounds, I think it would be a struggle to easily maintain. Again, this is a personal choice.

I rarely eat junky foods. You notice I said rarely! I do eat dessert and chips on occasion, but it’s not an everyday thing. Most of the time I make pretty good choices.

I continue to exercise six days a week. Exercise is like the “get out of weight problem jail” card for me. The calories I burn give me the flexibility to eat a little more without worrying about my weight. I also love feeling strong and fit.

I developed my personal mantra of “Never Go Back.” I never want to struggle to walk through the mall because of my weight, get stuck in chairs or avoid social situations solely because of my weight.

I wanted to encourage you that there is no magic in maintenance. The same things you are doing right now to get to a healthy weight are exactly the same things you can do to maintain your weight for years. That’s why picking a weight-loss plan that is sustainable and practical is so important. Can you do it for the rest of your life?

What are your thoughts on maintaining your weight? Diane

32 thoughts on “The Truth About Maintenance

  1. Miz says:

    Im not a big!amazing! story but I did shed about 40 pounds 16 years ago and havent looked back.

    I credit my success to the fact that from the start (I was 23ish) I knew I needed to find a way of life (food and exercise)I could do FOREVER.

    Though marriage family work and into my 80s:)

    I set myself up for success through realistic living.

    I know it took me LONGER to lose the weight—but Im doing now what I did then and my life is far more chaotic.

  2. vickie says:

    good post! and you are absolutely right – no magic – no lottery thinking – and it is absolutely the same thing as weight loss. Weight loss is practice for maintenance. That is why it is oh so important to eat real/whole foods during weight loss so one can be healthy and continue for life.

    AND, this is what I always say about the daily scale thing

    one either keeps their food and exercise TOTALLY IN LINE

    or

    one gets on the scale every day

    it can be both, but it can not be neither

  3. Amanda says:

    Thanks, Diane!

    I still have almost 40 pounds to lose and am already thinking about how I’m going to handle the rest of my life. I’m never traveling down this road again. Ever.

  4. Roxie says:

    I think the key to maintenance is the same as with weight loss. It IS that over-used phrase “a lifestyle change”. Without that, it becomes ON a diet and then that magical time when one is OFF their diet.

    Diane, I completely agree with you about the sustainable weight concept. I am a few pounds up, but I think the lower weight was probably unrealistic for me, as I was unwilling to restrict that much to maintain that weight. I’m hoping to settle in right here.

    As always, great topic and thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  5. Fran says:

    No thoughts yet because I’m not at that point. But you and Lori (Finding Radiance) are an example of how to maintain weight loss. Therefore it’s very interesting reading both your blogs because I can already learn and know about what’s next for me after I reach goal weight.

  6. Diane says:

    For me , I think the biggest difference this time with my weight loss is that it will not end in pregnancy , and it will be permanent. Mine was not a typical pregnancy or a typical post postpartum experience, or even typical parenting experience. I am now of an age where pregnancy would most likely include the appearance of angels or other strangers, and I feel confident that it will be for the rest of my life. I spent 52 years as an overweight person, so I will spend the next 50 as a thin person. It’s kind of like a rebirth this way , don’t you think ? And congratulations for maintaining your loss not only for all these years but through several pregnancies ! You are indeed blessed

  7. Susan says:

    I lost 40 lbs originally and maintained it for 6 years easily then when my mom got sick and died I lost focus on eating right and didn’t exercise as much and as hard so I regained at my max 12 lbs now I am within 1 lb of being back of my original weightloss:) Like you Diane I weigh daily, workout only 5 days getting too old for six:) the part I’ve really strugled with lately is the emotional eating…keeping it in check! I don’t “do” and offical diet like WW or Southbeach etc but I do have a way of eating that works for my lifestyle. Everyone has to find that way of eating and lifestyle that works for them that is the magic in maintence:)

  8. Desert Agave says:

    I still have around sixty pounds to go before I’ll be thinking about maintenance for myself. It is really helpful to have blogs like this to read though. It makes me believe that maintenance will be possible.

  9. Marisa @Loser for Life says:

    You are such an inspiration, Diane! I love this post! I, too, have adopted the Never Go Back mantra. Although, I’m not quite “there” yet, I can’t even imagine going back to being that 234 lb. person again!

  10. Karen@WaistingTime says:

    I’m going to be honest – I have not conquered it… ever… yet. I thought last year was the year. Nope. I thought this year I have finally figured it out. Obviously not. I think I can do it… I just don’t. Sigh.

  11. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Diane, I resemble your whole post in terms of what you do & I do the same. In addition, I am always changing things based on what my bod tells me I need to do & just to keep it guessing. As I age, this is much more important.

    You are right in terms of a lower weight. I have to work really hard to stay where I am right now. When people ask, I tell them that & also one can always make the choice to have a bit more body fat & a few pounds if they don’t want to struggle to maintain that lower weight & body fat. Right now it is worth it to me but who knows in the future as it is a very hard fight to stay like this….

  12. Marcelle says:

    I am maintaining but moaning about the 3/5 pounds that I keep gaining and losing…LOL
    I need to get myself away from the fear of gaining the weight…the fear consumes me.

  13. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell says:

    Great post Diane…I keep with me the thought of I have been doing maintenance…now its time for the weight loss part… And I get this…I have found a lifestyle that I am trying currently and it is fitting pretty good!

    I have a new respect for food and I do not feel deprived and honestly feel that I could live like this for the rest of my life………..

    xoxoxo

  14. Leah says:

    I’m not to maintenance yet, so I’ll read comments. 🙂 I can say that I have learned, from gaining back weight, that regular exercise is a must as well as continuing the healthy lifestyle past the time you reach goal.

    Having the “I can anything now, because I’m at goal.” mentality does not work. I tried it twice and am now working on losing 90 pounds…more than I ever had to lose the first two major times I lost weight.

  15. Emergefit says:

    You say “never go back” I say “never again”. Tomato/To-ma-to. In either case, the core of maintenance is the sum of desire and commitment — ongoing.

  16. Jen says:

    I too was 305 lbs. I have lost 115 twice and have not been able to maintain the weight loss. I am in the 95%. I have since put back 80 lbs and trying to get it off again.

  17. Cynthia (It All Changes) says:

    For me I had to learn to eat for me and not all the diet foods. That’s what made it stick. I can make brownies that satisfy me and only eat one (as long as they are made for my IBS).

    Also I weigh daily. If I start to obsess about the calories/points and numbers on the scale a take a few days off and get my mind right.

    It’s been about being happy with me more than the weight.

  18. Dr. J says:

    Just like you, Diane, I maintain with the same behaviors that got me here in the first place. Thanks for being such a wonderful example for everyone! I hope your message is followed.

  19. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    I do most (if not all) of the same things you do. For me, it really seems to be a matter of simply paying attention to what I’m doing. I don’t track my calories regularly, but I do kind of instinctively register the caloric load of what I’m eating so that I can work around it, if necessary, to balance things out. So far (21 months!), it’s working well. 🙂

  20. Big Clyde says:

    I am not there yet, but I can see that I will be there in 6 months. I wouldn’t have believed that 6 months ago, but I have lost 42 pounds since then and feel that I am able to keep going as a permanent lifestyle.

    Thanks for the great posts that have helped me along the way!

  21. fittingbackin says:

    I love your thoughts on maintenance. I too am a daily weigher and swear by it for me. When you get “high” it’s time to cut and watch it. I honestly think without the scale, some form of measurement like that, I would not be able to maintain. I wouldn’t mind weighing 7-10 pounds less… but know it would be a major struggle to maintain and don’t know that I have the energy to do that and the other things I do (if that makes sense!)

  22. 'Drea says:

    Are you saying that I need to keep this vigilance up? 😉

    I salute you on kicking the junk food to the curb; it’s something that I continue to struggle with…

  23. KCalla says:

    Dianne, I’m in my 6th month of maintenance and I read your blog faithfully. I’m also working on eating “clean.” I’m not missing the processed foods and sugars. I am now, for the first time counting calories in addition to points because I’m eating more nutrition dense foods and oils. That throws my points way up but my calories are not up. And… I feel great. Even going down a bit more. Not to say I won’t have my occasional splurge!
    Don’t ever quit blogging. We’ve all got to watch your children grow up!
    And me… I’ll never quit weighing daily ever! 😉

  24. Hope says:

    My thoughts on maintenance: Hopefully I get a bit better at it! I’m just going to keep going though, I’m not going to give up.

    One thing I’m not going to stop doing is working out. It makes me feel great, and gives me energy, also, like you said, a little more freedom to eat. A little. Not a lot.

    But, those are my random thoughts. 🙂

  25. Jane says:

    Thanks for the insight. I’m still in the losing phase, but what you have to say about maintenance makes a lot of sense. I have decided that it must be simple and sensible. I hope I am a lot wiser now than I was during and after previous weight loss phases. That’s why it is so helpful to hear from you, Diane, and others like you.

  26. Sagan says:

    I think that being prepared is a huge part of maintenance: knowing how to manage yourself when emotional issues or stressful events take place. If all the stars are aligned, losing weight isn’t too tricky, but the problem is that life gets in the way! And we need to be ready for that.

  27. julie says:

    I step on the scale every time I’m at gym (4 days/week, or so). I am like you, somewhat flexible, I’ll eat a treat occasionally, eat heavy food sometimes, and have to find my balance of what I can live with the rest of my life, since there’s no sense getting started there if I can’t.

  28. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    It is pretty much the same thing now as before, but maybe a little more food.

    I keep thinking about losing another 10 pounds as well, but I am really happy with the amount of food I eat now and the exercise I do, so I am not sure it would be worth it to me to go that extra.

  29. jeanette says:

    Thanks Diane, I am in my seventh month of eating healthy for life….my weight is down 44 lbs with another 22 to go for maintenance. It is slow going now, but I remind myself it is not a race and weeks go by without loss, it is good practice for maintenance. You are an inspiration for me, thank you.

  30. John says:

    It was so good to read this post tonight! How you maintain is the way I’ve been thinking of doing it so it was good to read it from someone with success at doing it for so long. I’ve been struggling so this was a nice pick me up. Thanks!

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