Saturday, September 27, 2014

Falling Forward 2014 , #2 Planning for weight maintenance- take the time to make a plan

Plan for the changes
Falling Forward 2014 , #2 Planning for Weight Maintenance- take the time to make a plan

One of the big steps I took during weight loss was to

1. PLAN for Weight Maintenance
 Before I got there, about 20 pounds before I arrived.

For 40 years, periodically, I would just arrive at weight maintenance and not make any solid plans for the next, much longer phases of:

a. Transition
b. Year 1-Maintenance Junior
c. Year 2-Maintenance Senior
d. Years 2-5 and beyond, Maintainer Mentor

 In the book Refuse to Regain (book),  Barbara Berkeley, (blog) MD discusses the different phases of weight maintenance.

  If I could make Refuse to Regain mandatory reading for all of us going from weight loss to weight maintenance transition, I would. Take what you need for tools and test yourself and make a plan. What sustained me in weight loss (no matter what my plan was: Food tracking, WW, Medifast), the skills I had in weight loss were not the skills I needed in weight maintenance. New and different skills and  habits, were required.

Since the rates of long term weight maintenance are relatively low, be sure to make a plan, then adjust your plan if it's not working. Quickly!!!!  It's hard (painful) to face small gains or upward trends. It's harder and more physically and emotionally painful for me to lose 20, 30, 50, heck 70 pounds! If I could have addressed a slow 2-5 pound gain earlier in the process.

Once I put a plan into place, then changed it up, that's where the sustainability of all the parts of weight maintenance came together. ( I have no crystal balls with the answer, only feed back of my body and mind). The answers were inside me at each phase. Being honest and taking action, early, with any trends was key. I guessed correctly more often than I miss-read what was the root of the re-gain.

What's working now
1. Lower Carb, Higher Natural Fat- Paleo-ish food template.
2. Planning food, movement, sleep, stress relief, in my 2.5 years of weight maintenance
3. Prioritizing #1 and #2
4. Staying away from "S" foods (as described in Refuse to Regain)

What didn't work in the past:
1. Highly processed diet, high in "healthy carbs!!!" Heart healthy whole grains, and low, low fat.
2. Plans that involved foods  and habits that produced "gain" instead of "maintain".
3. Not prioritizing effective plans and not making changes and quicker course corrections if my plan was not working.
4. I ate a lot of "S" foods- sugary, starchy foods- in moderation. I never stopped to evaluate that moderation wasn't in the cards for me for the outcome I wanted.

All right- anyone else find differences in the first year, two, or longer? Did you make plans and make changes when your outcome was not sustained?

My Weight Maintenance Planner


  1. Great post, Karen! You are one of the few maintainers who does not do tons of exercise to stay thin. But you are very strict with your food. However you are also healthy and don't regularly skip meals, etc. And you catch your gains very quickly. I have read several maintainers who would never give up certain food but they exercise two or more hours a day! And then others waver more than five pounds and use food for emotional needs.

    I have been losing for about eight years so this process is different for me. I started out at over 200 pounds and lost incrementally. I maintained at a higher weight for the previous two years (about 20 pounds more). I am a size 8 and would like to be a size 6. But now I am still slowly losing. I am trying to get rid of grains and rely more on weight lifitng. That has been a change. I will probably for the foreseeable future eat one piece of Organic bread a day (but no other grains). Or if I don't eat bread, I'll eat a sweet potato. I have to decide how much stricter I want to get with myself. I am fairly strict already and exercise about six hours a week (but I also take medicine that makes it harder to lose weight--and that will be the case for the rest of my life). I have a stressful job and don't turn to food as a stress reliever. The only time I feel my resolve fading is when I am super tired. I just really like the taste of sweet food. I always have because that's what we had in my house growing up.

    I so appreciate reading these posts because your management of your weight is a real skill. I like how you are matter of fact and state what needs to be done bluntly. You are a much needed voice in blog land.

    Whew! This was long, but I just wanted to share my thoughts.

    1. Hi Ali, I do about 5-6 miles of walking total in a day, but not chronic cardio style (never go for an hour on the tread mill to burn off my food). I figured out early on 1. I can't out exercise my food choices (hormonal effects are done at the time of eating- either fat storage or fat burning). 2. That when I do chronic cardio I get a muffin top and I get hangry and want to eat more carbs if I fueled with carbs. I was on such a screwed up cycle with the chronic cardio-... I'll post about it one of these days.. :)
      I think it's great that you lost your weigh over time. Some people do great with that. For me, I would go down the binge path too much so I'm an "all or nothing loser" - my slippery slope thinking sits down and stays for years.. LOL.

      I'll bet your body will give you feed back on grains/vs no grains. For me- getting rid of dairy, I had to do a 30 day elimination (Whole30). I had to not beat myself up when I realized how much diary was effecting me...and I ate them for so long thinking it was "bone healthy- grains (heart healthy), too. Sigh. That's the price I paid for not thinking for myself.

      Good for you for not stress eating. I do find that an average of 60 minutes a day of walking is key for maintenance. I just don't put it all together. On hiking days I get puffy and gain weight rather than lose weight. Oh, yes... tired is my second biggest trigger. Stress #1.

      Stop by any time for long comments... :) I often feel that what I write is not as important as the interactions in the comments. We are stronger together. Keep up the great work. There are so few people who keep weight off for the long haul, it's good to see what works for others so that we may fine tune our own skills. :) Karen P.

    2. Thanks for the response, Karen. I am always curious to understand what works for successful maintainers who are not the norm and do not follow WW because that approach would never work for me. Part of the reason I lost weight over so many years is that I took prednisone for years and that (along with my other drug) made the task if losing 70 plus pounds at 214 very daunting! I had many bumps and stalls in the road and stalled at 175-180 for a while. And I had points during my weight loss where I didn't care about food intake and thought I could eat like other people.

      It wasn't until three years ago (when I weighed 184 pounds) and started working with an exercise physiologist after I had knee surgery that I lost more weight. She helped me get back to HIT cardio and weights. I lost 20 pounds working with her over a year and maintained while I transitioned to a new job. It has been in the last 16 months that I have worked to get off 20 more pounds by tweaking my diet and exercise plan. I hurt myself lifting this summer and had to cut back cardiom and maintained my wieght loss with far less exercise. Now I am still tweaking and working out additional kinks so all your posts are helpful.

    3. Ali- being on meds is the hardest thing to overcome- IMO. Gotta take some meds, and the side effects can be tough. So glad you had an Exercise Physiologist who "gets it" and gave you great advice.

      Here's to tweaking your food/ work outs as you need. Sounds like you have all the tools you need and your eyes are wide open. Keep up the great work!

  2. "Lower Carb, Higher Natural Fat"

    That's what works for so many Karen is a shame that some are still afraid of natural fat, PLEASE DON'T BE.

    All the best Jan

    1. Jan, it's so true. I did do well on a low fat diet for weight loss ( molecular genetics?). Now for weight maitnenance LCHF works like a dream... if my belly is getting a little bigger, I eat more fat, lower carbs for awhile. Works like a dream.

      Sometimes I have "survivor's guilt". I feel full, happy, young and so many of my friends trying to maintain on Calories in Calories out are hungry all the time and facing small, medium, and large amounts of re-gain and just out right misery. I credit myself that I did the n=1 experiment and trusted my instincts (seeing all the lean, normal range of body types at the Everyday Paleo Workshop in 2012 helped sway me). I will have to do a blog post where I post a few meals. I'm not sure all my readers know I eat any where from 80-100 grams of fat a day and stay pretty flat bellied.

      Facing my fears and understanding low inflammatory blood markers were both key. Unbrain washing from WW. Thank you, Jan... also future blog post... :)

  3. Hi Karen, All you say is valuable to me. I've been in this weight range for almost 2 years now. Just when I think, "this isn't hard at all," well, then it becomes harder. Like you, I have a plan and quite a few strict rules. I have quite a solid routine with a number of weight management tools involved. Making this happen is more about the daily details and less about wild enthusiasm and big dreams and goals.

    You do things a bit differently than I do, but still it's very good for me to keep track of what you're doing. You definitely do walk quite a bit per day. As we are Fitbit friends, I know you womp me in this category of exercise. Still, I think people overemphasize exercise vs. eating right. I don't exercise as much as people imagine, but still get the excellent results in the gym.

    Both of us also emphasize fun hobbies, such as your photography and my swing music concerts, and mindful living. These happinesses might not lose the weight, but it's a lot easier to keep it off if there is a lot of fun stuff going on besides excess food. :-)