When starting a new weight-loss protocol, one of the first questions you should ask is, “What is maintenance like?” The reason is simple: If the goal is to make a permanent lifestyle change, we need to ensure the weight doesn’t come back on by reverting to old habits. It’s ironic that we focus so much on weight loss when the real challenge is weight maintenance.
Here’s what I do to ensure the weight stays off, but I still feel like I’m living a balanced, comfortable life.
10 commandments of maintenance
1. Track your food.
I still track everything I eat. (If I don’t, I eat too much). I stay within my calorie goal +/- 250 calories, but I eat about 1,000 more calories per day than I did when I was trying to lose weight!
2. Meet your protein goal
No matter what, I always reach my protein goal. No worries if I go over. Extra protein won’t make you fat, but getting enough protein every day (and yes, it’s quite a bit) is the key to keeping your body in a mode where it doesn’t feel the need to store fat. This is why protein-shakes are a staple among people who are truly fit & healthy.
3. Watch the carbs
I only worry about not going much over my carb goal. No worries if I go under. (I avoid sugar at all costs). My carbs are exclusively from healthy sources (brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)
4. Don’t be afraid of fat
I don’t pay much attention to fat one way or another (it won’t make you fat). It balances out close enough if I’m watching carbs and calories.
5. Do your workouts
I maintain my gym and workout routine. For me, it’s 6 days a week at the gym! No excuses, no shortcuts, no slacking. Be a grown up and get it done.
6. Have cheat days
I do cheat a little on weekends. Sometimes as much as 500 calories per day more than I would normally eat. And maybe a dessert with dinner once over a weekend. I definitely have cheat meals.
7. Watch the junk
Unless it’s a special occasion, I never eat foods that are high in fat and high in carbs (these are the foods that WILL make you fat!) Examples of this would be pizza, french fries, donuts, cheeseburgers, cake, etc. Stay away! I avoid all sugar unless it’s a special occasion. If I do indulge in a sugary treat, I am basically guaranteed to gain 2-3 pounds the next day. It falls back off within a day or two, but the sugar causes water retention, which I dislike).
8. Weigh yourself at regular intervals
I still weigh myself every day. Once a week is okay, too. This is the only way to keep myself accountable for what I’m doing. Pick a “weigh in day” (or time) and don’t skip it, ever. Track it. Log it. And if it gets too high…
9. Set a threshold
Set an upper weight limit where you agree with yourself that if you cross that number, you’ll fix the problem. Period. Be sure to account for water-weight gains that you’ll inevitably add once you start eating more calories. If you cross that threshold, be an adult and fix the problem. You have the tools needed to do a mini-cut. I recommend it be no more than 5 pounds over your target. That way, the cutting cycle is easy and relatively painless.
10. Deal with your issues
Many people have deep-rooted psychological reasons for their weight gain. Over-eating can be the result of carelessness (just not paying attention to how much food you’re eating), but might also be related to bad stress management, using food as a source of comfort, or dozens of other potential problems. If you don’t deal with these issues, you’ll always struggle with your weight. Seek professional counseling, if needed, but face the problem!
The simple summary?
Watch your calories, avoid junk food, go the gym, and if the weight creeps up, fix it! If you can do those four things, you’ll always be fit and healthy!