Here we are again!
Seven years later and I am still maintaining my weight in the range of 150 to 160 pounds. It still feels incredible to me, but there are always new challenges and struggles. I want to share with you the lessons I’ve learned this year and the topics I’ve been focusing on with my coaching clients and community members.
I know that thinking about maintenance
I want to help you make peace with your current journey and know what to expect when you reach maintenance. Please learn from my experience—the more you know about maintenance, the more effective and prepared you will be to make decisions, set goals, create healthy habits, and finally lose the weight in a sustainable way.
The first lesson I’ve learned is that the lowest scale weight you ever hit—more than likely—will not be your maintainable weight. And that is okay.
I’ve been checking on people I interviewed back when I started the Half Size Me show in 2012 and other long-term maintainers. What I am learning is that many of them gained some weight back.
I’ve learned that when you talk about long-term weight maintenance, the weight you are at on you lowest weigh-in day is not going to be the weight you can comfortably maintain. There’s always water retention and normal fluctuations on the scale. Beyond that, most of us have discovered the effort required to maintain our lowest-acheived body weight is not something you’ll want to commit to on a daily basis.
After years of doing these repetitive behaviors—which no longer provide you with the reward of seeing the scale go down—will probably lead to you re-evaluating your maintenance weight. You could also find a relaxed approach where you feel comfortable maintaining your weight while still enjoying your life.
Many people reach out to me to say they feel like they’ve failed because they lost 100 pounds and gained back 20. However, they are keeping off 80% of the weight they lost and are enjoying their life.
That is a huge win! It is NOT a failure!
The second lesson I’ve learned is that a higher maintainable weight is not actually the problem. The thoughts you have about your maintenance weight is the problem. And those thoughts can sabotage all of us.
Let’s say you hit a low number one time in your journey and assume that’s where you “should” be. But what if you chose an intentionally higher maintenance weight and then stayed there for 6 months to a year to see if you could maintain it before dropping down to
For example, if your lowest goal weight is 130 pounds and you get to 145 pounds, stop there and maintain it for 6–12 months. See how you like maintaining at 145 before progressing to 130. Then, if you decide to get to 130, you can create a maintenance range that is realistic for you on a day-to-day basis. You can choose a weight range that will allow you to enjoy your life and still keep the majority of your weight off.
It is normal to gain some weight back; most maintainers do. Unfortunately, I think many people, even longtime maintainers, struggle with that lowest-ever number. Back to our example, you may reach the 130-pound goal but discover it’s more comfortable to maintain at 145. But then you feel like you need to constantly pursue 130. It’s a never-ending cycle.
After 7 years of successfully maintaining my weight loss within a 10-pound range and witnessing the weight fluctuations of other maintainers, I can honestly say you shouldn’t expect to stay at your lowest weight. I’ve reached 150 pounds (and have gone even lower). But I’ve decided to settle in around 155. This allows me to live my life and enjoy treats. I get to find pleasure in my day-to-day life, which is more important to me than trying to chase after some weight loss goal all the time.
(If you want to hear more about how to find a range and how to think about your weight loss goal, listen to this Coaching with Heather podcast.)
The third thing I’ve learned is you will have to constantly battle between two versions of yourself.
There’s a version of me that wants all the cake and all the ice cream all the time. I refer to this as my inner toddler. Some people call this your lower brain or your primitive brain, but whatever you call it it’s the part of your brain that doesn’t think about consequences.
This never goes away. Even after 7 years of doing this work. I know that’s a disappointing truth for some of you. But here’s the good news: over time, you can strengthen other parts of your brain to become stronger, more resilient, and louder.
The parts of you that understand keeping this weight off will lead to a better life.
The parts of you that want to say no to eating all the things all the time.
I’ve spent a lot of time with my coaching clients helping them win each battle even though the war continues to rage on. You have to acknowledge your own inner toddler. You have to say no to it using the logical and reasoning side of your brain.
I call it putting on your adult pants. I know this is easier said than done, but realize your inner toddler doesn’t have your best interest at heart. If you allow them to run the show, you won’t have a life you feel good about.
The fourth lesson (but not the final one because there’s always more to learn) is that life happens.
There will never be a time when this is easy. You will need to develop various levels of behaviors and habits to deal with different life circumstances. The more concrete your habits, the easier it will be, but it will always be a challenge.
As you build healthier habits, you have to realize that as life changes so does the rulebook. Often we get comfortable in our routine, thinking we will continue doing it indefinitely. However, every time a major life change occurs—divorce, marriage, break-ups, having a baby, kids going off to college, new job, moving, losing a job, anything that could disrupt the flow—is a time to go back to the basics and ask yourself, “How am I going to change my expectations?”
To help myself this year, I have been focusing on refining my own minimum, basic, and preferred behaviors. I’ve also been helping my coaching clients and community members with this skill.
I’ve become more attuned to watching out for life changes, When they happen I either need to switch my behaviors or my expectations. Recognizing challenging situations before they up-end my life is key to knowing how I can change what I’m doing.
I’ve realized I had to stop expecting life to be easy and problem-free. There will always be roadblocks and issues. You have to learn to adapt and find other ways to move toward your goals.
All I’ve learned over the past seven years and every issue I’ve faced
Is this journey is easy? No! Habits can become easier the longer you do them, but—make no mistake—this is daily work.
But is it worth doing all this work? Absolutely! You will grow in self-efficacy the longer you do this. You will become wiser about your body and your actions as you reflect on your choices and ask yourself, “What can I learn?”
Your body will change. Your life will change. And you will learn to change over time.
You can do this.
If you struggle with adapting to changing circumstances, I’m creating a way to help you. It’s a coaching cast called Refuse to Quit Again! If you’re on my VIP newsletter I’ll be sending out how you can get this valuable tool very soon.