If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you will already know that I am a fan of the Two Fit Chicks podcast that is created by Shauna and Carla. Their last episode was probably my favourite one they’ve done, it really struck a chord with me. The topic was weight loss maintenance. Their guest was blogger Lynn Haraldson, who has successfully maintained a significant weight loss for six years (coincidentally about the same length of time as my maintenance). As well as her personal blog (linked by her name in the previous sentence) Lynn also co-writes the blog Refuse To Regain with  Barbara Berkely, an MD specializing in obesity.

To say that I could relate to, and that I agreed with almost every word Lynn said on the podcast is an understatement.

I think that a lot of people think that once you’ve lost some weight (which is hard work), that maintaining that loss is easy by comparison. But it isn’t, in many ways it is a lot, lot harder.

During successful weight loss you get huge amounts of positive feedback, from the scale, from yourself as you see physical differences and most importantly from others as they see the transformation in you. But once you’ve been maintaining for a while, this all disappears. Every day you look the same, the scale only varies slightly (if you’re lucky), and it all becomes a bit of a slog. It is a real effort, that requires an awful lot of discipline, motivation and willpower.

To be successful, you have to choose a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy food choices and regular exercise. You have to make these a habit, but doing so is not easy, you have to think about it every single day. You certainly can’t afford to get to your goal weight and stop thinking about it. You must remain vigilant and determined.

Also knowing what it feels like physically to be at your “ideal weight” is important. For me I got down to 68kg, but that felt too light and I felt weak at that weight. I’ve settled on a target of “under 75kg” and have been around 72kg for a while now. It just feels right. I feel good at that weight. It isn’t about how I look, but how I feel.

I think to some, my current lifestyle looks a little obsessive. I am a scale junkie, I keep a meticulous training journal, and I post endless drivel about my goals and daily routine to this blog. But these are my tools for staying accountable and I think I need to keep doing them to keep this maintenance going, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So, if you’re a maintainer, do you agree that it is harder? Or, if you’re on a weight loss journey do you expect maintenance to be easier once you reach your goal?

Today was supposed to start with a 10km run with Alex, but he called me last night to say he was struggling with a sore calf and texted me at about 5:30am to say he was pulling out of this mornings run. I could feel the cold air in the bedroom, and the radio news said it was 3.7 degrees outside, and as I so often do, I wimped it and stayed in bed, planning to run tonight. Tonight after a terrible drive, it was getting dark when I arrived home so I decided to try and do my run on the treadmill. However, the treadmill for some reason always seems to exacerbate my tight calves and I could only manage 4km before getting to the stage where it felt like I was going to injure myself. So, I extended my workout to an hour with my usual routine and will have to try and catch up with the additional 6km tomorrow to stay on plan.


8 Responses to “Maintenance”

  1. sassydrcil Says:

    Different strokes for different folks.
    It has been a slow change for me.
    Finally, the pants are getting looser, and it has been achieved in an achievable fashion.
    But Andrew, you are very habitual in the healthy things you do, I was thinking of your habits when I wrote my post. 🙂

    • Andrew(AJH) Says:

      They may look habitual, but it still feels like they need an awful lot of effort, so don’t quite feel like habits. I guess it’s only been six years 🙂

  2. Bethlin Says:

    I’m amazed at anyone who can keep up the level of commitment to all the quantifying and tracking that you do! I am not a “real” maintainer – I have only taken off about 14kg and it’s taken 3 very-gradual years – but I don’t think I can keep up the life of constant tracking and goals and measuring and…well, quantifying. I keep feeling like I need to make a balance between this part of my life and the rest of it. On the other hand, Intuitive Eating makes me want to break out in hives because I’m not really ready to leave behind the security of measuring and weighing. 🙂 Reading blogs from so many people who are trying to be “intuitive” has been interesting, but it’s also good to see that there are people out there like you who do it the other way and are just as successful!

  3. alex Says:

    Ha I fully agree, I never give you positive praise for your weight loss because I’ve only ever known you at your current weight. I suspect others that have known you longer “just” get used to your new frame. But well done anyway!

  4. shells Says:

    Maintenance is very hard. I know because I’m bad at it! I’ve got an endless battle with 5kgs that comes off, goes back on again, etc, etc! I love the bordering on obsessive training journal 😀 That’s why I started my blog, it helps keep me on track and I notice when I’m not meticulous about logging my diet and exercise, the weight creeps back on. ps. How freezing was it that morning?!

  5. Em Says:

    I agree that the body finds its ideal, for me I seem to easily maintain at around 61/62kg, when I first lost weight I was down to 58kg but funnily that’s when I started experiencing injuries. When I got my first stressie I went up to around 63kg and then settled at the aforementioned low 60s. I was 75kg at my heaviest.

    I think if you find your ideal it’s easy to maintain, without meaning to sound gloating or obnoxious I have no trouble at all maintaining where I am. I rarely weigh myself (don’t need the mood of my day determined by the number on the scales) but get enough feedback from my clothes and just how l look in the mirror. I don’t always make the best food choices (too many visits to a recently opened Breadtop bakery near my work for instance) because I love food and am never the “oh no thank you or just a sliver please” girl when it comes to desserts and I don’t do my head in worrying about diet. However I do aim for balance and making mindful choices, ie if I’ve had an indulgent lunch then it’s a light dinner, that sort of thing.

    Fortunately I have been well educated in good nutrition (thanks Mum!) so eating well does tend to come naturally to me, I can’t delude myself that carrot cake is healthy 😆

    I think it should start young, teach kids at school the foundations of good nutrition (I got this at school as well as from Mum) so that they can make informed choices and more importantly look after themselves properly when they leave home.

  6. Pippa Says:

    * sigh * I’m behind again in my blog reading, but I have to say, this is one inspiring post, Andrew. Will check out the podcast, too.

    Maintaining for so long already is a rare feat, kudos to you! I especially like the thought of knowing what your ideal weight FEELS like. Though I’m mostly staying around the same 5kg, I really feel better when I’m BELOW that mark, and going below even that, I start to feel weak and brittle, too, though I’m not sure if that’s purely emotional.

    Thanks for the motivation, it’s given me a boost. I’ve definitely subscribed to the illusion that life should get easier once you reach goal weight, but reading this I’m surprised that I didn’t figure out that it is equally difficult, if not harder as you say, than the actual weight loss journey.

    And I’m smiling at ‘a little obsessive’ *snort* …

  7. Kath (My Funny Little Life) Says:

    Thank you for this post! I think you mentioned some very crucial things – the importance of commitment (every single day), aiming for a weight you feel best with (indenpendent of your looks), and finding strategies for keeping yourself accountable (which doesn’t necessarily have to do with obsession – even if it may look like that to some people, it’s rather about the motivation behind than how it looks like to others).

    From another point of view, I can relate to this very much. You know I’ve struggled with an ED very badly, and still do (although it’s much better now). I’m facing the same challenges: Making healthy decisions every single day, aming for a weight I feel good at instead of obsessing about a certain number on the scale, and keeping myself accountable by watching what I eat and how much I weigh. (This last point may sound obsessive as well, and I know many people would condemn doing this in ED recovery, but after almost 10 years of failing with recovery, I think I have to find my own way to do it, and this helps. The feeling of losing control makes me feel totally disoriented, and that’s the most dangerous trigger to relapse for me. I’ve found that I need a certain amount of structure and control, but in a flexible way.)

    Great post! And thank you for the link!

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