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Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Why are there no books about maintenance?

... that's my question for today ... "Maintaining weight loss for Dummies"? Wouldn't it be a best seller?

Mmm - I think not - it seems boring, unsexy [is that a word?] and tedious. In fact, the word always reminds me of car maintenance, leaving your car at the garage/shop/mechanics while they do some tinkering and charge you a fortune for it.

I suspect there are no books about maintenance because there is no easily identifiable target market. For weight loss books, it is pretty simple -- they are for the overweight people. And in our society that is a large percentage of the population. Doesn't the success of weight loss books rely on the fact that fundamentally people are always searching for a quick fix? So they buy book after book looking for the secret to simple, easy, painless shrinkage.

But how many former fatties who have reached their goal are there??

Well I suspect there are a few. But the paths taken to reach that goal are many and varied and the techniques needed to keep of the pounds are directly related to the method you used to lose weight in the first place.

The way I see it, there are 3 ways to lose weight
1. Eat less fat
2. Eat less carbs
3. Eat less calories

or (d) all of the above or (e) two of the above

then add to that one of the following
4. lots of cardio
5. lots of strength training

or (d) all of the above

Find the point at which you cease losing weight, or alternatively where you don't gain weight and then increase what you limited in the first place -- more carbs, more fats, more calories etc. or simply eat more of what you are eating now.

You can add a cheat meal/day once a week and diet the rest of the week or you add a little more food/carbs/fats everyday.

If you exercise daily, you can ease off to 2 or 3 times a week. But can you eat more and exercise less? Probably, but you would have to tread carefully.

The goal is to set up a lifestyle that you can live for the rest of your life - the right amount/types of food and the right amount of exercise.

For me it is important to satisfy any feelings of deprivation [which are not so much the way I eat]. So I have been using my carb re-feeds to find out what I really want back in my life.

The things I thought I wanted, I found out weren't quite as good as I remembered.
Pizza? Doesn't need a crust to taste good
Chips/Fries? Taste like stale oil - oven fried sweet potato is better
Real cheesecake? Low carb is just as good
Pasta? don't miss it
Chocolate? too sickly sweet

The high carb things I want back in my life are healthy choices -- sweet potato, rolled oats, organic corn chips, raisin toast [maybe not so healthy!].

I can either eat carbs every day that I strength train, I can have a cheat meal once or twice a week or I can carb load for one whole day. I can cycle carbs [low med high days] or cycle calories. I can work to find out my critical carb load and stay under that.

There are so many options, and we haven't even started exploring the exercise options. There is also a whole chapter that should be written on "I hope I haven't given myself an eating disorder"!

That's why I think there should be a book or two about maintenance which incidentally I think should be called something else ... "maintaining the rage" - "keeping the faith" - "working the system".

If no-one writes one soon - I might just do it myself.


  1. Go for it girl! I think you'd be able to write an awesome book! The only "maintainence" book I can think of right now is Atkins For Life.

  2. thin for life and eating thin for life - by Anne Fletcher I think.

    Thoughts from me - about me:

    I wrote to someone that is very happy - at goal and doing really great maintaining.

    I asked her what had made the difference THIS time - if it had something to do with the food plan.

    And I also asked her why there were SO MANY very unhappy people - struggling - with the same plan with which she had found such success.

    She said (in her opinion) IT had nothing what so ever to do with the "plan".

    That their sad tales - had been her sad tales - before - with other plans - at other times.

    That this time - she was mentally ready.

    I find it very easy to stay on plan - and my therapist and I were talking about that yesterday - and she said that she thinks it is because I actually lean much more toward the annorexic side of eating disorders (she didn't say this - but I GET that they are very good at staying "on plan", indeed).

    So, I asked how I had gotten fat - to start with then - and she thought it was because I was trying to nuture myself.

    This might - or might not be true - but right now - it is a good way of looking at it.

    It gives me something to consider and discuss.

    I am finding other ways of nuturing myself.

    I am communicating a little better with my husband and kids.

    I feel nurtured by them - I am feeling less and less like everything has to be on my shoulders.

    I am seeing more and more - how my anxieties spring up - and then fester.

    Having my therapist and my husband to talk to - is lessening the load quite a bit.

  3. Yes a lot of it is mental I think not just for maintaining but weight loss too.

    I am also thinking maintaining as much muscle mass during weight loss as possible at the very least is critical for maintaining at a decent amount of calories. I think if you waste it all a way during weight loss then you are going to be stuck with starving yourself during maintenance as well. Is that how we want to live once we lose our weight?

    I gained muscle mass and I also exercised so heavily it was making me sick but I have maintained fine without any since and as you know I have had a baby during this time as well.

    I plan on adding weights back in soon once things settle but I have had no problem maintaining my muscle mass since stopping but Maya being the heffa she is probably helps with that :p

    Oh and I also think weighing each morning helps too.

  4. Great post. I think one of the keys to maintenance is to never believe you're "done." It's just hard keep up the discipline and focus necessary to continue on when your outward appearance is "normal." You have to accept that you'll never be normal again and that you'll need to exercise discipline and restraint for the rest of your life. That idea can feel very overwhelming.