How To Maintain Weight Loss After Dieting (Part 3)
In part 2 of How To Maintain Weight Loss After Dieting I discussed the concept of reverse dieting and finding what your new weight maintenance calories truly are. In today’s installment I want to discuss what, in my opinion, is the MOST important part of keeping the weight off for good: self-monitoring and setting personal thresholds.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to monitor your maintenance through the use of personal thresholds. This is EVERYTHING in a maintenance phase. By keeping tabs on (at least) one or several indicators weekly, you’ll know how your maintenance approach is working for you and, more importantly, if you need to reel things back in, change some habits, and make some temporary adjustments.
I’d highly recommend you set a scale weight, size or a measurement(s) (maybe all 3) you absolutely don’t want to exceed under any circumstances. Something you are not comfortable with. Your “nope” point.
For example, let’s say you started your maintenance phase (after you’ve done a brief reverse diet) at 153 lbs. (maybe you started your weight loss journey at 175 pounds and dropped down to 150 pounds). You might tell yourself, “I absolutely have a cut off/”nope” point of 157 lbs.”.
If you approach your unique “nope” point-or exceed it-you know it’s time to get back to quantifying your food and being on your maintenance plan a larger percentage of the time.
Less intuitive eating. Less eyeballing.
If you approach your “nope” point, you might even want to drop your calories down a bit while also tracking more for a couple weeks to “course correct” a bit. Then you can resume your prior maintenance plan.
Again, having these personal indicators and thresholds you don’t exceed-and monitoring them weekly-is EVERYTHING. What gets measured gets managed. Remember that. People who drop a lot of weight and put it all back on do NOT do this!
You need to be providing yourself with feedback, data and not fooling yourself (it’s easy to do). You need consistent “a ha” moments in order not to put the weight and fat back on. I would highly recommend (actually, I INSIST) the following in maintenance:
Number one, as discussed, set your personal indicators and thresholds you do not exceed and which you are not comfortable with
Take weekly hip (around the widest part of your butt), waist (around the belly button), thigh (halfway between the knee cap and front of your hip), and neck measurements and compare them week-to-week
Weigh in DAILY (under the same circumstances) and compare it to your personal threshold
Track your weekly average scale weight and compare it week-to-week (scale weight will change day-to-day and that’s normal)
Take a selfie photo at the start of maintenance and then take a weekly selfie and compare it to the original to track visible changes
Pull on the same pair of washed and dried pants each week and subjectively gauge how they fit
Allow me to go off on a bit of a tangent here. You may have raised your eyebrows at the recommendation to weigh in daily. You’ve probably heard time and time again to get out of "scale jail", don’t worry about the scale, the scale doesn’t mean everything, there are other indicators of progress, etc. And all of that is true...to a point.
However, when it comes to maintenance of weight loss, research has consistently shown those who weigh in daily and self monitor are FAR more successful at keeping the weight off than those who don’t. Again, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you are “fine”, but when you get that feedback daily and weekly, you are going to be much more incentivized to course correct your habits and overall approach and “get back on the wagon” so to speak. So that’s that.
Now, back to what we were talking about. If ANY of the indicators I outlined above are trending up and, more importantly, crossing boundaries and thresholds you set for yourself...it’s time to dial it back in. As I stated, this may mean being technically on your maintenance plan more, quantifying more...and eating intuitively LESS. It may mean cutting calories for a while into a little bit of a deficit to get yourself back under your thresholds.
This is how weight/fat loss is maintained folks:
It’s sticking to that “big rock” principle of “what got you there...keeps you there”
Still being on a structured plan a larger percentage of the time
Eating less quantitatively and having some softened edges a smaller percentage of the time (intuitive eating, eating until full and not stuffed, portion control, healthy choices, mindfulness, etc.)
Consistently self monitoring, setting thresholds (scale weight, a couple measurements, photo comparisons, clothing fit/size) you don’t cross and course correcting for a bit if you do.
Engaging in intense, structured training multiple times weekly + accumulating a certain amount of non-exercise activity (10,000 steps for example) DAILY.
This is what it takes. Heed this advice and succeed. Ignore it and fail. The choice is yours.
And that’s all today. In the 4th installment of How To Maintain Weight Loss After Dieting , I’ll discuss the topic of how to handle holidays, vacations, and special occasions when trying to maintain weight loss.