Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My transition from weight loss to weight maintenance

Okay, a blogger friend ( Hils- thanks for waiting for this post) asked me for my story of my transition from weight loss to weight maintenance. For me, the transition was from Take Shape for Life (Medifast) to a Paleo/Primal style of diet. Both very different and both worked very well for me.

I am a hybrid weight loss to maintainer- I did not loose weight on Paleo/Primal, I don't maintain (*most of the time) with Medifast products.

I studied weight maintenance like it was a school subject. I knew how to loose, but I had to make a very structured plan that would work for me.

I was committed to keeping the weight off no matter what this time. I could really relate to the stories in the Refuse to Regain book (Barbara Berkeley, MD).

I checked out Practical Paleo (Robb Wolf) from the library over Thanksgiving 2011. Those two books really hit home with me. From my blog reading, I had started following Sarah Fragoso at Everyday Paelo. I knew I would need new recipes I could eat and Jr. Family member, too.

The Medifast Plan has a companion book called Dr. A's habits of health (Wayne Anderson, MD). I took that book, with Refuse to Regain, with Practical Paelo, and then Everyday Paleo and strung together my transition plan with things I knew that worked in the past.

Dr. A's habits of health (weight loss was the first phase  of 6 phases)
Refuse to Regain ( Rules to follow- Primarian diet, weighing in, scream weight)
Practical Paleo ( wheat caused problems- big ones- and joint pain could go away)
Everyday Paelo ( Wheat and processed sugar is no bueno, great family recipes).

Medifast transition had us bring in more vegetables on week 1. The higher carb ones were now on the list ( I omitted corn and beans). Brussels Sprouts. Very good! Never liked them before.

Next step was week  2 servings of fruits and drop 1 MF serving of food. It was awesome. Loved that part.

Next was more protein. Yes! Very good, too.  The week after, I was on a work trip the week I was supposed to transition to 2 milk servings a day. I had been lactose intolerant in the past, but could handle the whey isolate in the Medifast. There was no flipping way I was going to introduce dairy on a trip in close quarters with people I spend a lot of time with during the week. I'm sure they would thank me now, if they knew!! LOL.

 I told my coach straight out I was skipping the wheat (half cup of brown rice or half an English muffin on the last week of transition).

After that point, I was half happy & half scared. Happy I had gotten there, scared I would re-gain, but not without testing out some of the new way of eating.

The Everyday Paleo workshop that I attended really gave me the exposure to people in real life that I needed to have the confidence to go forward.

I've spent the last 10 months adding in more avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, and salmon. I did it slowly because it took that long to de-program myself from the low fat ways of Weight Watchers. I had to test, and see, test again and see.

 The great thing about sticking to the Paleo/Primal template was ditching diet sodas, Equal, and sucrolose, and now for the most part soy. Once I switched over, none of that sounded good any more, so I just stopped eating it and I don't crave it. Spices taste fabulous too, in a non-triggery sort of way. Savory is from salt, curry, or meat or oils, sweet is from fruit or some 85% chocolate or cinnamon.

I tried to bring in foods very slowly, so I could figure out quickly what food triggers. I avoid that food- think almond butter, dried fruit, too much regular fruit, high glycemic fruit,  wheat or gluten of ANY kind.  Any food I just *had* to have every day was a food that I would stop having cold turkey and see. Yes I could live without it, yes, probably a trigger or potential trigger.

Add in any sort of stress and add a trigger food- it is very hard. I'm only one meal out from a total blow out snack or meal. Avoiding the triggers and dealing with stress are key. Paleo/ Primal really fits. When I eat off Paleo, it has to be with food that doesn't trigger (medifast, think thin bars, quest bars, blue cheese, fetta cheese, very small amounts of honey, maybe a teeny bit of Stevia- but rarely)

Thats my transition story. It's all good now. 10 months into weight maintenance. Lots of work to maintain, so worth it, and so much easier with the Paleo/Primal template.

Glad you asked, Hils!


  1. i really love this post; everyone has a different weight loss path but weight maintenance is the same, imho....stress and triggers...always on my mind...thank you for this post

    1. Triza, you are welcome. No matter how you loose, I think there are a lot of similarities in maintenance. Dealing with it day-in-and day-out is key.

  2. I do not think most people understand how thin the line is between losing and maintaining and then between maintaining and gaining.

    Very subtle differences.

    Almost no difference for many people.

    I refer to it is half a baked potato. I don't actually eat potatoes, but that is referencing France Kuffel's book, Passing for thin.

    The difference for her was (I think) a half a baked potato and a small serving of fruit added to her day.

    I am pretty careful with fruit too.

    I also remember when Roni hit maintenance. She was a WW girl. and I remember her adjusting her points ever so slightly and watching the scale.

    When I was in the end of my first phase of losing and getting ready to hit maintenance, I looked and looked for maintenance information and people, and could not find them.

    Several of us hit about the same time, so I could read what they were doing. But there was not an established maintenance community like there is now. Or if there was, I could not find it.

    You are fortunate that there are books and people out there now, it is very helpful.

    The National Weight Loss Registry has gone online. I received my first survey yesterday.

    It was on artificial sweeteners and what I drink. My answers were very simple because I do NO artificial or natural sweeteners and I drink almost exclusively water (one cup of herbal/no caffeine tea some days).

    I hope they keep sending us survey after survey. Because the evolution of where our food (as over weight people) started and where we are now (as slim maintainers) is worth a good study.

    1. Vickie, so true- the window between weight maintenance and weight gain is soooooo narrow. I had no idea the first time around (WW). I was involved in a group at a message board for maintainers. It was helpful (1999 ish). I am lucky that there is a broader group of maintainers. Definitely one of the reasons I blog.

      Cool on the NWLR. I'll be eligible in Feb 2013. It's my goal to sign up on that date. I'm a huge fan of data mining, so I hope that even more data can help those who are looking to maintain in the future. Good stuff!

  3. Weight Watchers is not perfect as we all know, but they are the ones who taught me that I could maintain my weight loss. After losing and gaining several times during my life, you would think I would have figured it out but I didn't. I will always be grateful to them for that one thing. I mostly still count points but I have way less than they say I can have. There isn't a "one size fits all" way to maintain but I think we all have things in common.

    You are doing great. :)

    1. Thanks, Caron,
      I still go to WW meetings about 2x per month. My meeting has a lot of maintainers, and the leader has lost +100 and maintained for many years. I can ask anyone anything I want. And it's free!! I got to lifetime two other times before, so I look at it as an earned benefit.

      Glad to have connected to you in the blogosphere. :)

  4. Thank you, Karen! Reading this has been a real bright spot in my day and I definitely have this post starred in my Google Reader as one to come back to.

    I have been counting calories (but not otherwise monitoring food intake) to lose weight. I am trying to envision my transition to a primal/paleo maintenance plan. I'm sure that will also involve counting calories, at least until I have a good bit of maintenance under my belt. Maybe I could work on one meal (say, starting with breakfast) at a time to convert to full primal/paleo within a specific time frame. Hm.

    1. Hils, you are welcome. My computer issues are mostly solved. Thank goodness. I counted calories in the last 15-20 pounds for practice and then all the way through about 9 months. Then for a few days, then a few weeks, and finally a couple of months now I could go without tracking and maintain okay. It took a long time and a pretty set food and knowing that I would have to not eat emotionally. Tricky stuff.

      I like your idea of easing into your meals. Good luck! The first 3-4 months of maintenance made me a little nervous and cautious. After that, then I felt more confident. Good luck!

  5. Thanks for this. As I move onto Maintenance, I'm eating low carb, low fat, low sodium and have added some almonds to my diet which already consisted of fruit(minus bananas), veggies (minus potatoes) and lean meats. That's it. I'm so used to eating this way that I can definitely do it forever. I think for me that running is the key to maintenance. Since I don't measure or count calories and just eat a variety of all the foods I mentioned, I'll be fine as long I don't fall into my old habits of eating carbs and sugar. That will be my downfall and something that I don't even want to experiment with. Love your blog and your great maintenance tips. Thanks Karen!

    1. Thanks, Leigh!! It's good that you are looking at your old habits and not wanting to go back. Also key for maintenance. I thought I would be struggling much more this year, but I think that not choosing the trigger foods was key to less struggle. Somehow or another, over time, I've learned how to deal with the stress eating. Although some stressful things still trigger me, but I'm able to stop before I choose. Or get stopped right away if I've started into the danger zone. Good luck with your journey.