Today I'm sharing with you how I coach on maintenance. This can be helpful for those in or approaching maintenance (within 10 pounds or so). Learning about the unique challenges and skills of maintenance is also a great way to give you some insights about what comes after active weight loss mode even if you're not there just yet.
Maintenance is always a range of weight rather than an exact number (usually 1-3+ pounds) due to natural fluctuations in water weight, inflammation, your menstrual cycle, if you are sick, having traveled or flown in an airplane, and what kinds of food you eat. I recommend using at least a five-pound range for you to consider yourself to be 'at goal weight.' I call this your green zone.
Then you can add a yellow zone where you specifically design exactly what weight above the green zone; you will enact a protocol where you have a plan for exactly what you will do to revert back to weight loss mode. Your weight loss journey should have given you insight as to the habits and strategies that result in weight loss for you. you want to put those into a protocol for yourself now and then use it as a living strategy that gets continually tested and adjusted as needed.
If you are still in weight loss mode, this is the perfect opportunity for you to develop your yellow zone protocol. For example, I know I tend to lose weight if I can keep my overeats to two or less. What is your magic number? What about sleep, stress, and water? What kinds of foods help you feel satisfied and lose weight? Write them all down in a weight loss/yellow zone protocol.
Maintenance is all about getting confident about how to stay in your green zone through all of the different exceptional times, like holidays, vacations, and stressful times that can pop up.
Also important is developing a practice of trusting and relying on yourself about your commitment as to what you will and won't do to stay in maintenance. If you miss brushing your teeth for a day or so, you don't question whether you are an adequate teeth brusher, so don't fall into the trap of doubting your skills the first tie you pop up into your yellow zone. Instead, use the yellow zone as an opportunity to trust yourself to take action even if you don't feel like it.
In maintenance, you will need to trust your body's hunger cues to tell you how much to eat instead of relying on your assumptions about how much you 'should' eat that worked when you were actively losing weight.
You'll also want to be open to allowing your relationship to certain foods to change and evolve over time. By the time my clients get to maintenance there can be an over-attachment to eating 'certain foods' that allowed you to lose – which can drive you to think you need to keep eating that way in maintenance. But you can maintain eating any foods, and you just want to stay open to that experience and experiment with it!
The last thing you'll want to watch out for in maintenance is unintentionally recreating the dopamine hit of weight loss by gaining over the weekend and then taking the gain back off during the week. This is a cue to develop a more compelling next goal for your life and be open to exploring that.
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