Hit Your Weight Loss Goal? Here’s How to Maintain It.
Great job! You worked your butt off, ate the right amount of the right foods, and—bam—you hit your goal weight. Now what? How do you maintain your incredible achievements? I often hear that losing weight is easy, but maintaining it is hard. This simply isn’t true – at least from a biological standpoint.
Fat is stored energy and calories are units of energy. If we eat more calories than we burn off we store them as fat. In order to lose fat we have to use more energy than we consume. It’s a simple reversal of the equation. Now, weight maintenance draws the line between the two. You don’t eat more than you burn so as not to gain the weight back, and you don’t eat less than you burn so as not to continue losing. The goal with maintenance is to aim to eat what you burn in a day to maintain your status quo. So, you see, biologically, you don’t have to train as hard to burn so many stored fat calories or conversely you can eat more because you aren’t trying to dip into your fat stores.
Therefore, the key to maintenance is understanding the numbers. First, let’s track your daily burn rate.
Since you successfully lost weight, you may already know how many calories you burn in a day. But if you don’t, then it’s essential for you to figure out your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of calories your body burns at rest, and your active metabolic rate (AMR), the amount of calories your body burns through everyday activities. There are a lot of great wearable devices that can help you determine your daily burn rate. With this knowledge, you’ll just need to match your calorie intake to your calorie burn to maintain your weight. If you go over that calorie limit, you simply reign in your food intake a bit the next day and work a little harder or a little longer in the gym.
Speaking of calorie intake, you need to know how to track those numbers as well. And yes, there are many apps that help you do this. Personally I like My Fitness Pal and Apple’s Health App. Both of these sync up with my App to help you track your calories in and calories out.
Now, as I mentioned above, many think maintenance is harder than losing. And as I’ve shown you, physiologically this simply isn’t the case. I believe what is truly so difficult are the behaviors you must continue to maintain. You can’t go back to stress eating, crazy weekend benders, 800 calorie happy hours etc. You have to find permanent long-term life affirming ways to cope with stress. And you need to find new ways of rewarding yourself that are life affirming as well as socially rewarding. For example: journal when you are stressed. Pamper yourself with a bubble bath or mani pedi. Go with friends to a yoga or spin class instead of happy hour. Look for ways to socialize that are rooted in fun activities not food and drink.
These areas are really where the key to maintenance success lies. Consider joining a healthy community like the one on my app and sync up with the Jillian Michaels Workout Junkies on Instagram or Facebook. Bottom line, find support wherever you can, care for yourself in life affirming ways, and don’t beat yourself when you have setbacks. Expect them. It’s part of being human. Just jump right back on the wagon the next day.