Seven Tips for Weight Maintenance

With weight maintenance, there is none.

I am now in my fifth month of maintaining a significant weight loss. It’s going pretty well. There are ups and downs but so far I’ve been able to sustain.

I’ve posted weight loss tips a while back, but here are a few things that have worked for me these last 4+ months as I keep my weight at healthy levels:

1. Continue to weigh yourself every day. Or at least several times a week. Look at the forest and not the trees when you do this, but I don’t think a weekly weigh-in would be enough. At least not for me. I could see myself looking at a one-pound gain over a week and saying, “Eh, that’s an outlier.” And then repeating that for the next twenty-seven weeks.

2. Keep on tracking. Once I accepted that if I wanted to stay a healthy weight, I would have to be mindful about what I ate—for the rest of my life—things got much better. I still use MyFitnessPal faithfully. Yes, it’s a pain. So is brushing your teeth. Get over it.

That said, I do not log every last thing I eat. After a year of this, I know enough about portion sizes and nutrition info to be able to estimate a lot of things in my head. The key is finding a happy medium between writing everything down—which is boring and unsustainable, and probably unnecessary since maintainers have more calories to play with each day—and guesstimating too much, which can lead you to trick yourself into thinking a Panera orange scone is as virtuous as a pumpkin muffie, because hey, they’re sitting right next to each other in the bakery case!

3. Pretend you’re still losing weight. I have MyFitnessPal set for losing half a pound a week. This seems just about right, given that there are days I don’t keep track, and many days I go over. There’s also the mental aspect of this—yes, I celebrated when I reached my weight goal, but not too much because there’s no “arriving” with this stuff.

4. Your goal weight is your ceiling, not your average. I added this one because for me it’s an important thing that I kinda fell into. I lost my 40 pounds and hit my goal weight, and then I lost another pound or two. This means that even when my weight fluctuates, as it does each day, I don’t (usually) go above my goal. That’s a psychological benefit, for me at least. Even at my heaviest swing, I am still at my goal, and I don’t worry. Because in my house, worry can lead to anxiety, anxiety can lead to despair, and despair can lead to endless spoonfuls of marshmallow fluff. Can I get an Amen?

5. Don’t track food at all on days you work out. That’s my little reward for continuing to run and bike—well, that and feeling much better mentally and physically.

6. Be friends with food. Some people are abstainers when it comes to sweets or alcohol or whatever—they give the thing up entirely because once they start they can’t stop. I’m more of a moderator. Barring something medical going on, any fitness regimen that requires me never to eat [insert bad ingredient du jour here] isn’t going to work for me.

But whether you’re a abstainer or a moderator, you can’t see food as the enemy. Food is fuel, but it’s also a source of delight and sensual pleasure. I ate a brownie last night. And then I ate two more because they were soooooo good. And I’m super OK with that.

7. Continue to reward yourself, but make the rewards modest. When I hit my weight goal I bought a bunch of new clothes, because I had to, but also as a celebration. I have continued to buy one small thing a month. This is still a necessity as I build up a decent wardrobe, but it’s also a carrot for keeping the weight off.

I would love to hear your tips for losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight, or reaching other fitness goals you have.

11 thoughts on “Seven Tips for Weight Maintenance

  1. Sizzle Food

    I try to eat smaller meals 4-5 times per day. I don’t know if you already do this but I find that I avoid getting really full and feeling lethargic this way. Great job though! You really are an inspiration!

    1. MaryAnn

      I have heard that tip and there have been times I have done that. I was worried in the beginning about blood sugar crashes, so I ate more frequently, like 5 times a day. Good for you finding what works for you!

  2. Rachel Heslin

    I especially love #5. Mindfullness is awesome: if you are going to have a treat, indulge and savor it for every bite. Brownies deserve heartfelt gratitude, too. 😀

  3. Rev Dr Mom

    I am REALLY close to maintenance and have begun modifying –expanding is probably a better word — what I eat just a bit. I think your advice is really sound. I do track on days I run but I allow myself a little more leeway.

    I’m pretty sure that daily food tracking and weigh-ins are going to be crucial for me forever to keep the weight off.

    I’ve learned what foods matter to me. I enjoy a glass of wine, for example, but when it comes right down to it, I’d rather use my points for gelato–and yeah, I had an extra serving of the salted caramel mocha. I ate some french fries while I was on vacation, thinking I’d missed them, but it turns out…not so much. Not worth the points. It’s interesting for me to see how my eating preferences and habits have changed.

    The other thing I’ve done is to get rid of EVERY SINGLE PIECE of clothing that no longer fits…I can’t afford to go back and buy bigger clothes again so I HAVE to keep this weight off.

    1. MaryAnn

      Excellent stuff here!

      About foods that matter: While I was losing, one of my guidelines was, I could choose one of the following: 1. an alcoholic beverage, 2. dessert, or 3. a day off from exercise. Those aren’t all worth the same, but it was a good way to think about indulgence and discipline. (So I give up dessert today. Big deal. I can have it tomorrow.)

      Now that I’m maintaining, I can choose 2 of those 3 in a given day. Like you, it’s pretty easy to pass up the glass of wine though.

  4. RevKel

    Thanks! These are very encouraging. I am in the beginning stages of losing weight and getting back into shape AND you were some of the inspiration for it. I started back to Curves this summer and with the CREDO required physical began a weight loss program with advice of my doctor. Small steps. Oh boy. I am happy for you. I did not want to show up at CREDO having done nothing toward weight loss. I especially like #5 also.

  5. Deb

    For me, mindfulness has been key. I once could easily eat a whole bag of pita chips while working at my desk (sigh) but now I do NOT eat anything that I don’t put on a plate or in a bowl. In fact, I do not eat at my desk. I stop, have a snack or lunch, and go back to work. “I don’t have time to stop and eat” was an excuse to graze all day. 🙁

    I also remind myself… The weight did not go ON overnight. It is not going to come OFF over night.

    Finally – I have been practicing the discipline of fasting. Not “skipping a meal to pray” — but fasting. Best way to remind me that food is not what sustains me…

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