Is Your Weight Loss Plan Maintenance Ready?

I have maintained my 150 pound weight loss for almost 16 years.

How?

By doing one very simple thing. When I first started losing weight, I determined that whatever I did to lose weight needed to be the same thing I did to maintain my weight. I had tried so many plans that were not conducive to weight maintenance that I knew I had to lose weight in a way that made moving from weight loss to weight maintenance seamless and easy.

In other words: I wanted to lose 150 pounds by doing what I would eventually need to do to keep that 150 pounds off forever.

That’s where a lot of weight loss programs, popular diets (that will go away before you know it), and fad diets fail. There is not a seamless transition from weight loss to weight maintenance because the way those diets recommend you lose weight is not sustainable. Not forever. Not realistic.

I challenge you to think about the diet you are following right this minute.

1. Can you really eat that way for the long term?

Long Term Road

Be honest with yourself. I can’t tell you how many times over the years that people have assured me they could do the Atkins diet (or whatever diet) forever as they were losing weight. When I saw them a few months later, they had gained all their weight back and just didn’t understand why. I could tell them why. Because while that diet was helping them lose weight, that diet was not sustainable. Not forever. (I’m not picking on the Atkins diet – it’s just one of many that have come and gone throughout the years.)

Does the diet you are following look like the way you would like to eat forever? 

FreeDigitalPhoto.net by Stuart Miles

FreeDigitalPhoto.net by Stuart Miles

The operative word here is like. Do you like the diet you are on? Do you like the way the foods you are eating make you feel? Do you want to keep eating that way? If the answer to any of those questions is “No,” then you might want to think about whether that diet is sustainable. Is it forever?

I do want to say that it is normal and natural to “tweak” our diet as we age or as we learn more about nutritious foods. That’s a good thing and can also help us maintain our weight.

Are you eating mainly “diet” foods to lose weight?

Diet Meals

If you aren’t learning to eat real foods you make yourself, then you are going to have a hard time making a seamless transition into weight loss. Some people can go from a NutriSystem or Jenny Craig type diet and maintain, but it is a challenge and must be handled carefully. Diet foods that come in packages aren’t something you want to be eating forever and making the transition into weight maintenance can be hard.

Having a weight loss plan that is maintenance ready is one of the keys to successful weight maintenance. And while you may not be there yet – don’t lose sight of the fact that weight maintenance is your ultimate goal. You want to lose weight and then keep it off. After all – who wants to have to lose weight again and again and again?

Did you think about weight maintenance when you first started your weight loss plan? Diane

 

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About Diane Carbonell

Diane Carbonell is passionate about weight loss. Subscribe to regular blog updates and receive the latest information on weight loss, weight maintenance, and healthy living. Keep up with Diane by following her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Comments

  1. Diane, this is such a great post and so pertinent to me right now as this is exactly the mindset that I’ve been working with at this point in time. I still have some weight to lose, but I know I’m getting closer to goal, and I know that whatever I do is how I want to be forever. So far, I’m liking how it’s all going. Nothing feels like a burden or too difficult/boring to maintain. I just need to get the right balance so that I can actually lose what I need to instead of maintain where I am now.
    PlumPetals recently posted…Morning Workout MishapsMy Profile

  2. Jamisen Sivak says:

    This is one of the things that I did that was very different than all my other tries (80 lbs total finishing in 2010). If I can’t do it forever, then I need to rethink the choice. There were a few habits that I needed to break so I might drop a food catagory for a week or two but the intent was to get used to less of that item.

    It is a big area where my trainer/training company and I differ. All of their recommendations are not things that I can envision doing forever. Like no dairy, ever. 100g of protein daily. That one is tough without the help of shakes or bars, which given I try to only eat food I could grow if I had a really great farm, does not fall in line with that. So I listen, incorporate what I can, like less dairy and more protein but I might not hit their target every day. What does work though, is I like my food and therefore, I am satified and don’t go looking for snacks or other foods that are not so good for me. They don’t understand that. It is a life change, it has to be something you do forever.

    • Jamisen I had to let go of what trainers wanted me to do as well. When I focused on what they wanted me to do, I’d find myself with horrible cravings I couldn’t seem to satisfy which led to some weird binges. Like eating pieces and pieces of store bought bread. Ewww!!!! If it was fresh from the oven, I’d understand but store bought. I do what you do try to focus on more protein in my diet and less of the bad stuff but I don’t go overboard. It’s not like I’m trying to win a body competition.
      Ann Wilson recently posted…A Few of My Favorite Things – Strength Training RoutineMy Profile

  3. I absolutely agree. Your body is a side-effect of how you live. So if you change your diet temporarily, the results will be temporary too.
    Kyra recently posted…Picture ThisMy Profile

  4. Diane–This last time around, I actually started creating a maintenance Powerpoint as I was losing my weight. It’s 48 pages long, based on how people have kept off weight longer than five years. The biggest things (for me and what my body needs): doing at least 45 minutes of cardio daily and getting on the scale a few times a week to see if I need to tone it down for a couple of days.

    I knew that losing the weight was easier than keeping it off. Oh how I knew! I always use the phrase “setting myself up for success,” and this was the first time I applied it to weight loss/maintenance.

    That’s why I’m so glad I finally used Weight Watchers to lose. They didn’t make me afraid of food, but they did make me realize that a lot of foods need to have moderation attached. The healthy stuff–the lean meats, the non-fat dairy products, the fruits, the veggies, the whole grains–could be eaten without having iron control. That giving my body nutrients was a GOOD thing. Just not copious amounts of chocolate or cookies. :o)

    -Susan

  5. I love what you said here. When I started dieting through Weight Watchers along with the increase in fruits and vegetables I found myself eating a lot of processed foods, fake sugars and such as they were low in calories and points. I don’t want to eat that way at all. I want to eat wholesome clean food that doesn’t come from a package. Weight Watchers taught me a lot and started me on some great healthy habits. Losing 100+ pounds was super easy but after reaching lifetime membership I tanked.

    I continued in Weight Watchers but found it very difficult to eat those healthy wholesome types of foods (nuts, coconut oil, fresh squeezed vegetable juices and such). The way Weight Watchers counted nutrients those ended up being my treats. A nut can’t be a treat for me. I’d prefer chocolate as a treat or a cupcake. As I found myself lacking the nutrients I needed as a vegetarian and the treats I wanted once a week, I’d find myself entering some binge like behavior at random times. Never something I had ever done before when I was Fluffy. I gained 40 pounds and became obese again. Ahh, the shame :) not really the shame but a shame that I didn’t learn how I wanted to eat before I entered maintenance.

    So, I pulled away from Weight Watchers and went to counting calories and nutrients (protein, carbs and fats), because I felt it allowed me some of the higher healthy forms of fat like nuts without penalizing me for it being a fat. This is the way I want to eat. I’m in the process of dieting again with 20 of those surplus pounds gone I am at least half way there. With my current plan, things are going much slower but I am learning so much more and feel maintenance will be so much easier.
    Ann Wilson recently posted…A Few of My Favorite Things – Strength Training RoutineMy Profile

  6. This idea of developing a food program/plan now that will not have to be changed later has been playing through my mind a lot lately. I’m one of those who has adjusted my plan time and time again as I have learned more about my body, nutrition, the health benefits of certain whole foods, and the need, at least for me, to eliminate some food groups (white sugar and processed foods) from my diet. I have health issues that are not going away so long as any excess weigh still lingers on my body, so I am thinking, especially this week, about what I still need to do to create that workable maintenance plan that will keep on working, long after the weight is off. This is a timely post for me, Diane. Thanks, again!!!

  7. This is EXACTLY what I’m doing now. Everyday I think about whether what I’m doing is sustainable. My weight loss is a little slow sometimes but it’s consistent and I know that I’m enjoying my food and my exercise regime. :)

  8. One of the best things that works for me is counting claories. I have done it so long that I can pretty much guess, in the ball park at the very least, what a calorie count is for any given food. If I stay with it, I do well. There are certain “rules” that help me do better. One is staying away from refined sugar and flour as much as possible. Eating lots of whole grains and vegetables and drinking lots of water. If I stick with those “rules” or ideas, then I do super well and feel awesome. That is something I can live with. I love whole grains and vegetables so it is a win win situation. I would rahter have a slice of whole grain bread than white bread. One has chew and stays with me- so much more enjoyable. The white bread, its gone in a flash- nothing to chew- and makes me hungrier for more.

    So many people are doing the low carb – or no carb -paleo thing. But unfortunately what they dont realize is that the body is producing ketones and killing their kidneys. I wish more people were aware of ketosis.

  9. This really struck a cord with me. In 2001 I lost all my weight eating and training body for life style. Unfortunately, since then I have gained all my weight back and a lot more. I know in my heart and head that eating healthy is the safest way to lose weight. I am still struggling with the body for life mindset. Does anyone have some advice they could give me.

  10. Mandy Cat says:

    Even in the darkest days of my weight loss adventures, I never considered any “diet” plan that entailed having meals mailed to my front door or buying prepared foods at the supermarket. First, I’m a pretty experienced cook. But more importantly, I couldn’t figure out how I’d transition back to real life from unpacking those expensive boxes of processed food-like objects. And it would be even crazier for people who aren’t handy in the kitchen. After the weight loss, they’d still be helpless, having learned nothing about nutrition, meal planning or cooking techniques.

  11. Yes! I think I finally figured out that if I went “on” a diet I would go “off” a diet. My main goal when I started was to eat more healthy and to drink less wine. I figured those two changes would result in weight loss and I was right. As I progressed I started choosing healthier foods. Now I eat vegetarian about half the time by choice. I want to maintain my weight loss and my health.
    Of course I have an added incentive; had a heart attack last Feb after losing 50 lbs and changing my eating and exercise. Now I know that this isn’t just about maintaining my weight loss, it’s about staying alive. Fortunately the way I eat is now a lifestyle choice and I love it!

  12. I originally lost weight quick and easy (back in 2006) and I don’t know that I ever even really believed I would keep it off then. I stayed active, but the weight did creep back on over the years. This round, I really think I’ll be able to keep it off. I’ve managed to get out of the overweight, into the “normal” range. I’m got quite a goal yet, but yes … everything I’m doing now, the eating and the exercise, is something I plan on continuing definitely. The weight is still coming off, super slow, small amounts… it almost feels like maintenance! Still working at it.
    JenB recently posted…Weekly Weigh-In (#29)My Profile

  13. I think it is so important to pick a way of eating that you like and that you can follow for the rest of your life. But I think it is also so easy for people to fool themselves into thinking they will be able to continue with a very restrictive plan forever…

    I ate foods I liked when I lost weight, but I was very, very strict and didn’t include any treats or “extras.” During maintenance, I had to learn how to incorporate some treats into my diet, and it wasn’t easy. It would have probably been better if I had included a few treats while losing and learned how to do it successful then rather than during maintenance…
    Andrea@WellnessNotes recently posted…Oatmeal Banana BarsMy Profile

  14. Excellent, Diane!

    Yes, yes and no are the way I did it, and am still doing it!

  15. Great post! The first time I got to goal at Weight Watchers I didn’t keep eating the same way after getting to goal. I intended to, but due to some things that happened (health/travel related) I didn’t. So I gained it all back PLUS another 40 pounds!

    Now, I’m still following WW (I do like the fact that no foods are forbidden entirely) and I also count calories. I feel very comfortable with how I’m eating now. I was eating a lot of the diet frozen dinners (Lean Cuisine especially) but I’ve dropped about 99% of that and am mostly eating “real” foods that I’ve made.

    I have every intention of continuing to eat like this once I get to my goal weight again. I do find that for me tracking what I eat (I track both WW points and calories) helps me a lot to make sure that I am staying on my plan.
    Kitty recently posted…Goals UpdateMy Profile