maintaining weight loss

Maintenance 101: Challenges

Maintenance 101: Challenges

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow,

you gotta put up with the rain.”

–Dolly Parton 

Life is about challenges. The challenges we face and overcome are what make the rest of life so rewarding. Think about it: you’ve lost the weight through hard work. You feel really good about yourself, right? Yeah! You feel awesome! You did it!! Now, every challenge you face in keeping the weight off is going to boost you up even more when you’re successful. You can accomplish ANYTHING.

Temptations will always be there. You’ll be faced with the choice to eat Girl Scout Cookies at work, chocolate cake at birthday parties, your kids’ snacks…Now that you’re in maintenance mode you can indulge in things a little more–you just can’t go nuts.



Injury is one of the biggest challenges of weight loss maintenance because it can totally derail fitness. One day you’re strong and going to the gym a lot, the next day you’re ordered by your doctor to take 6 weeks off! It can be stressful and scary to not have that outlet while your injury heals.

I’ve been injured many times in the last 6 years of my “athletic career.” I’ve had bursitis in my ankle, IT Band knee issues, Achilles tendinitis, pulled muscles, back strains and a strained sacrum. I tend to go hog-wild when it comes to new hobbies and totally throw my everything into it. This means I might bite off more than I can chew and not really listen to what my body’s abilities are yet. I struggle with finding that “in between.”

The trick with weight loss maintenance while injured is two fold: tighten up your caloric intake while you’re taking time off and/or find a physical activity that you CAN do.

For example, when I had to quit running for 6 weeks because of my knee I panicked. Would I gain back a ton of weight? What was I going to do? I couldn’t run, do the stairmaster, no elliptical, no jump rope, no squats. Basically–don’t do anything to aggravate my lower body. So for six weeks I lifted weights (upper body only) and went swimming. I felt great, I dropped a bunch of weight from the strength training, toned up my body and kept active. It worked!


Relationships Evolving

Some friendships aren’t meant to last a lifetime. It’s a sad fact, but true. Despite that, it’s still painful when a relationship runs it’s course.

A long time ago, I wrote a post called Lose 100 Pounds, Lose Friends? about my experiences with losing friends along the way. The topic of weight loss and dating/friendship has been covered a lot on my blog because I think it’s something pretty common. When it comes to maintenance, those challenges are still there. Your friends might think that once you’ve reached Goal Weight, you don’t need to eat healthy or exercise anymore. They might be expecting you to go back to your old (often shared) habits of greasy food, eating out, skipping the gym to go to a movie, etc. etc. Some people just don’t understand the choices we make to lose weight and keep it off. They might be Food Pushers.

It’s important for us as maintainers to establish boundaries and let people in our life know that we appreciate their continued support! As maintainers we have to stay strong and continue what we’re doing!



Since I’ve never been pregnant this section with be short. 🙂 My hope for “someday” when I do have kids is that I am able to continue what I already do. I will follow what my doctor says for how many calories I should be eating a day and I’ll count my calories. I will also follow my doctor’s orders per exercise but I’m pretty sure at the bare minimum I can at least swim!

Here are two Guest Posts regarding pregnancy and weight gain/loss:

Pregnancy and Weight

What IS Your Happy Weight?

Pregnancy will always be a challenge for people trying to lose/maintain weight. At some point I think we have to make peace with the fact that weight gain is inevitable. But maybe we can take small measures to make sure it’s manageable.


Lazy Counting

It’s inevitable. At some point in our journey as weight loss maintainers we will get lazy. We’ll think we don’t have to count our calories. We can skip a few workouts here and there. We can eat the junk food we eliminated from our diets to lose the weight!

I went through this shortly after I reached my Goal Weight. I got lazy. I stopped counting my calories entirely because I thought I had it under control. I didn’t. My instinct is to overeat, so I need that structure of calorie counting to stay in check.

Lazy Counting can happen once in awhile, but when it starts to happen all the time it’s a sign we need to get back on track and do what worked.

Here are a few posts regarding this topic:

C is for Calories

M is for Measuring Mistakes

All Calories Are Not Equal

Why Wednesday – Why I’m Not Losing

Maintenance is a life-long task. The methods we used to lose the weight need to continue with us, even if we aren’t trying to lose anymore. It’s all part of the math game.

QUESTION: What challenges have been the hardest for you? 

Maintenance 101: How to Eat

Maintenance 101: How to Eat

I’m beginning a weekly or bi-weekly series of posts entitled “Maintenance 101.” In this series, I’ll be addressing some of the issues I’ve found in my four years of weight loss maintenance. My goal for this series is to be uplifting, supportive and honest. Maintenance isn’t always easy as many of you guys know from experience, but maintenance is a crucial part of the weight loss journey. Our work doesn’t stop when we step on the scale and see our “magic number.”


When you’re trying to lose weight the goal is to create a calorie deficit each day. This is the “secret” to weight loss. You must burn more calories than you consume. If you aren’t sure how many calories you should be eating to lose weight, try using a Calorie Calculator (they are a dime a dozen on the internet). You can create a deficit by Counting Calories, Exercising, and Reducing Calories.

This is not the case for maintenance. You are no longer trying to create a deficit, you are just trying to stay within a certain calorie range each day (or points if you are on Weight Watchers). Like I said, the work doesn’t end when you reach goal–but you aren’t restricting as much.

“When you hit that goal weight, your daily PointsPlus™ Target will be increased, by 6PointsPlus values per day. That’s not the free-for-all that many people may be expecting! (There’s certainly more than 6 PointsPlus values in a pint of posh ice-cream…)” (source)

When I was losing my weight I counted my calories every day and my goal was to eat about 1500 calories a day. I was usually more like 1600-1800 calories depending on the day. Some days were more challenging and I was really pushing the envelope at 1900 calories. But I worked hard and counted every bite and nibble. I was also exercising but I didn’t EAT what I burned. This was creating a deficit and I lost 110 pounds.


Eat More

When you reach maintenance mode, there has to be a mental shift. Sometimes it’s difficult to make this shift because you’re so used to thinking “restriction.”

After I lost my 110 pounds, I was still counting my calories and I was still exercising 4-5 times a week. I had to make a mental shift from losing to maintaining. One of the ways I did this was getting used to the idea of eating more. I wasn’t changing my healthy habits, but when I worked out I ate back some of the calories I burned. Not all of them–but some.

Here is an example: Let’s say you burn 2500 calories per day from exercise, the normal daily activities (getting dressed, showering, walking, etc.), as well as what your body does to survive (breathing, pumping blood, digesting food, etc.). This means that 2500 calories is your daily calorie maintenance level. If you ate 2500 calories a day, your body would remain the same. Your weight would not go up or down and you would “maintain” where you are at day in and day out. This is pretty much where I am currently. My weight does not fluctuate much more than a pound or two in either direction because I’m eating more calories than I did when I lost the weight.

The Cause The Effect Required For
Calorie Deficit Stored calories (body fat, muscle tissue, or both) will be burned. Losing Fat
Maintenance Calorie Level Maintenance Maintaining Your Current Weight
Caloric Surplus Calories will be stored (muscle tissue, body fat or both). Building Muscle

According to some websites, my maintenance calorie level is about 2400 calories a day. On any given day I eat between 1900-2400 calories right now.

“Eat More” does not mean “EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT” in massive quantities. You’re just feeding your body a little bit more than it needed when you were losing the weight. At this point your body should have LESS reserves of fat to burn, which is why you need to eat a little bit more–right? Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

QUESTION: Do you have the maintenance part down? Or are you still struggling to figure out what it means in terms of exercise and food?