How to Maintain Your Weight without Losing Your Mind
How to Maintain Your Weight without Losing Your Mind
Let’s take a minute to discuss the mind F that is weight maintenance. You might not think it would be all that difficult to maintain your weight without losing your mind. But I assure you, maintenance isn’t all sunshine and rainbows! Weight loss is everywhere, but no one talks about maintenance. Everywhere we look there’s a new diet. Whether it’s bullshit like teas and detoxes, or actual legitimate, healthy ways to lose fat, we are surrounded by dieting and weight loss schemes. Probably because a whopping 73% of American adults are overweight or obese. Seventy-three percent! It’s safe to assume a majority of the adult population is at least somewhat interested in losing weight. In fact, half of American adults claim they are trying to lose weight.
As prevalent and all-consuming as the weight loss industry is, a healthy fitness journey can also include two other, lesser known, phases.
The 3 Possible Stages of a Fitness Journey
1. Weight Loss
Weight loss is, by far, the most familiar and common. It seems like everyone and their dog wants to lose weight! Most of the time the motive here is to simply look and feel better overall. Closely followed by the desire to prevent the development or lessen symptoms of certain health conditions and chronic diseases. There are lots of reasons to lose weight, each one as valid as the last.
2. Weight Gain
Although the desire to gain weight is less common, with a scant 1.5% of adult Americans being underweight, people still talk about it more than maintenance! The goal to gain weight is found mainly among the population who want to build muscle. Building muscle mass and increasing strength requires a caloric surplus. As well as sufficient amounts and a proper ratio of each of the 3 macronutrients. Fueling your body with adequate amounts of food will increase the quality of your lifts and gym performance. This results in muscle growth and increased strength. Often, but not always, the process of muscle building will be accompanied by fat and weight gain to some extent.
3. Weight Maintenance
This stage doesn’t get as much love as the other two. I’m willing to bet it’s because the thought of not trying to change our bodies is almost baffling. In today’s society, being content with ourselves and our bodies is practically faux pas. Not to mention it’s not sexy enough to make the weight loss industry as much money as weight loss or gain. People who want to lose or gain weight invest in fitness programs, meal plans, gym memberships, and supplements. In comparison, there are so few people out there who are looking to stay the same. It doesn’t make sense to market to them when there’s an abundance of people in the other two groups.
Keep reading to for helpful tips on how to maintain your weight without losing your mind!
Put It All Together, and it’s a Cycle
For the Experienced “Dieter” or Athlete
Weight gain in a caloric surplus in an attempt to build muscle is referred to as “building” or “bulking.” Weight loss in a caloric deficit in an attempt to allow the bulk phase muscles to shine through is referred to as a “cut.” Oftentimes the fitness journey of an advanced or experienced “dieter” or athlete will consist of losing weight, building muscle, cutting fat, and doing it all over again. Bulk, cut, bulk, cut. Sometimes maintenance phases are thrown in before each bulk, just to give the person a bit of a break. Rather than being the end goal, maintenance is sort of a placeholder between “more important” stages.
For the Novice “Dieter” or Beginner
The majority of people don’t participate in the bulk phase…unless it’s unintentional. An unplanned bulk is generally more fat gain than muscle gain. Guilty! The majority of us live our entire lives in the cut stage. Or at least we feel like we do because we think we are constantly trying to lose weight to no avail.
More accurately, however, we diet hard and miserably for as long as we can stand the torture. Then we fall hard and far off the wagon – because we’re starving! We completely give up on our impossible diet, and bulk up on all the food we wouldn’t allow ourselves to eat. Back at square one. Time for more diet-induced suffering. It’s a harsh cycle!
It’s understandable why most people think life will be a breeze once they finally get the weight off. They imagine themselves in this happy weight wonderland where diet and exercise is a thing of the past. A world where they can have their cake and eat it, too. Maybe even two. That’s not how it works, but they don’t know any better. Why? 1) Because no one talks about the reality of maintenance! And 2) Most people never get out of the weight loss-weight gain cycle, so they never experience maintenance for themselves. They will never have to learn how to maintain their weight without losing their mind!
Even when weight is lost in a seemingly sustainable, healthy way, we’ll often get where we want to go then think we’re done! Like reaching our goal weight is our ‘Get Out of Diet Free’ card. You can guess what happens next. We put the weight back on because we forsake the fitness and nutritional routine we practiced to lose it. We go back to our old ways. You know, the ones that caused us to gain the weight in the first place.
Regardless of which group you’re in, you’re constantly losing or gaining weight. Trying to build muscle? Bulk to grow, then cut to show. Trying to lose weight? Diet to lose, then quit the diet blues.
Maintenance Motivation, or Lack Thereof
We all love seeing our bodies transform in desirable ways. Visible proof that our hard work is paying off! It’s motivating, in a very positive way. Improvement of overall health and wellness, decreased chances of chronic disease, and increased confidence and comfort to name a few. It could be as simple as not wanting to have to buy new jeans.
Whatever the reason, wanted and unwanted physical changes and developments can ignite the fitness flame.
Motivation can come from appreciating the changes we see and feel when we’re putting in the effort to transform our bodies and calm our minds through fitness. Motivation can also come from wanting to change what we see and how we feel. So where does motivation come from when we’re not focused on change? Let me tell ya, I’m still trying to figure this one out. Learning how to maintain your weight without losing your mind takes time and practice!
The Truth About Maintenance
Maintenance is a mind trip. You do all the work and put in the same amount of effort as you do during the weight loss phase. But you’re not rewarded with big visible changes or movement on the scale. Even though maintaining is the goal, it’s like…why? Nothing makes you question eating well and exercising more than maintenance. IYKYK.
If you’re in the thick of your own weight loss journey (pun intended), I know what you’re thinking while reading this. You’re thinking I’m a spoiled little brat for complaining about maintenance while you’re over there struggling through the weight loss stage. The nerve! I should just be happy I’m done with weight loss! I’ve achieved my goal, what more could I possibly want?! I get it. I used to think the same thing.
It’s Never Enough
It’s funny, because we are never happy. Even when I was “happy” with my body and weight prior to tracking macros, I felt stagnant. The need for change – or at least a fresh challenge – is real, folks. It can get tedious doing the damn thing day in and day out. Particularly when there’s no obvious results to be found. A new challenge or goal is welcomed to keep the spark alive!
Maintenance is not nearly as exciting as seeing weight loss or muscle growth, that’s for damn sure. But it has its place. Here are a few things to remember during your next maintenance phase. Hopefully they help you keep your head in the game so you can keep up the good work!
How to Maintain Your Weight without Losing Your Mind
1. Do it for the Health Benefits.
Taking care of yourself has a slew of benefits beyond aesthetics. I physically feel great when I tend to my nutrition and training. Mentally, I’m more patient, calm, and content when I prioritize intentional movement and fuel my body properly.
Exercise improves mood, and can aid with symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also reduce the chances, and symptoms, of chronic diseases. Including, but not limited to, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, back pain, and cancer. Regular physical activity strengthens bones, muscles, and joints, lowering the risk of developing osteoporosis. It helps manage weight, lower blood pressure, and improve quality of sleep. Need I say more?
2. View Maintenance as Progress.
Maintenance is progress! As BS as that might sound, not being on the weight loss, weight gain roller coaster of emotions is reason to celebrate! It’s hard to appreciate sometimes, but any discontent you feel at maintenance will seem silly if you start to backtrack a bit. You’ll gain a new appreciation for maintenance as you long to be back where you were!
Successfully maintaining weight is a big deal! It means that you’ve developed healthy habits and established a health-supporting routine. This takes mindfulness and effort, which should be recognized and applauded! Be proud.
3. Live a Little!
If you’re not trying to lose weight, here is your chance to ease up on your calorie limit and/or physical activity. Slightly. Don’t go YOLO’ing your gains away or anything. But now you have the opportunity to experiment a bit. Test the waters of how much you can eat while still maintaining your progress and weight.
Give yourself some extra time to accomplish other tasks and goals by decreasing your daily step goal or cutting back to 4 workouts per week instead of 5. Play around with it and find what works for you. Your experimenting might be the distraction you need to feel like you’re moving forward, despite maintaining.
4. Set Some New Goals.
I know, I know, you’ve already reached your goal weight. But health and fitness goals don’t need to revolve around the scale. In fact, they shouldn’t at all unless your doctor recommends it. Even so, if you’ve reached your goal weight you’re probably in a healthy weight range anyway. Hooray! That’s amazing.
But when frustration with stagnancy sets in, set yourself a new goal. Should you be drinking more water? Eating more veggies? Drinking less alcohol? Stretching more?
Maybe you want to read more, improve your weightlifting form, practice pull-ups, get more sleep, or start meal prepping. Whatever it is, set a goal and work for it. Now you have something to focus your attention and energy on besides aesthetics. There’s no need to chase a number on the scale to better your body and mind.
Weight maintenance can be tricky. It’s wonderfully frustrating. A beautiful disaster. Bittersweet. But we can really begin to appreciate the process for what it is by remembering to:
- Recognize the health benefits of why we really need to make fitness a part of our lives.
- Respect that maintenance is progress in and of itself.
- Have some fun with it, and
- Set our sights on other important non-scale goals.
Follow me on Instagram, where I share the ups and downs of my own fitness journey. See what I eat and how I train to maintain my 30 pound weight loss. And laugh with me along the way!
Thanks for reading How to Maintain Your Weight without Losing Your Mind!