Over the past two weeks I’ve blogged about the steps you need to take, in order to lose the extra weight. I started with the most important part, Mindset, and then last week I blogged about how to actually lose the weight and also what to do when you’re not seeing progress. Today I want to blog about something that no one really talks about-the transition period between active weight loss and maintenance.
I remember vividly the morning I hit my goal weight. I knew I was getting close to it, but it was still a shock to see that number on my scale-135lbs. I stood on the scale for a minute, processing what had just happened, and then I started flailing around my bathroom, doing an awkward ‘happy’ dance.
Then I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror and that stopped me in my tracks. The person staring back at me still had lots of jiggly parts, especially in the hip area (pear shaped here). I was thinner than what I had started at, but I was still lumpy. And saggy.
Wait a minute, I hadn’t turned into a Victoria’s Secret model when I hit my goal weight?! The let down that hit me was intense. I was 43lbs lighter than what I had started at a few months ago, but all I could see was the loose skin, the mis-proportioned body and the wear and tear that being overweight had wrought on this body of mine.
The day I hit my original goal weight was the hardest day in this whole process for me. Besides the fact that I was slightly appalled by the ‘final’ product of my weight loss, I also realized that I didn’t know what to do next. After closely following a plan for months and having strict parameters, all of a sudden I had nothing to go by. But what overshadowed all of this, was that I knew it was time to get new blood work done. I was terrified that all my work and progress hadn’t actually improved my glucose number, and that I was still on my way to becoming a type 2 diabetic.
I made an appointment with a new doctor at a new practice, and I had to catch him up on what had been going on. He was happy with my weight and blood pressure, but he ordered a full blood panel, including a few extra things to be run, so we could get a detailed picture of how things were on the inside. A few days later he sent me my report, with a hand written note, telling me everything looked great including a glucose number solidly in the normal range.
That’s when everything came into focus again. I had started this whole process to get healthier and to prevent becoming a Type 2 diabetic. Everything else was secondary to this. I had accomplished my main goal, and now it was time to move forward and fine tune some things.
- First, be realistic about where you’ll be at when you hit your initial goal weight. This is where I messed up, and it was really hard for me to come to terms with reality when the time came. Make sure your goal weight is realistic, and also realize that it’s just a starting point and you can always adjust it down the road.
- When you reach your goal weight create new goals. These can be fitness goals, new hobbies, new dietary changes you want to work on etc. What these are is secondary to just having something new to focus on. The weight loss phase is for a relatively short period of time (few months to a couple years usually), whereas maintenance is for 20, 30, 40+ years. When you’re losing weight you have a specific goal that you’re working towards, and you’re seeing noticeable changes. However, maintenance is a whole lot of the same thing, and it’s incredibly easy to get off track. I think always having a goal/s to work towards is key to being successful in maintenance. And don’t be afraid to start small! My first goal after I started transitioning into maintenance was to be able to walk two miles. I started at a half a mile and then worked up to 2 miles over the course of a couple months.
- Give your body time to adjust. I was surprised how much my body continued to change after I started transitioning into maintenance. Your shape may continue to change, even as your weight stabilizes. I’ve read that this can happen for up to a year after you stop intentionally losing weight!
- Slowly adjust your calories up. Now is the time to experiment with calories and figure out what will be your long term calorie parameters. This is an exciting time because you get some freedom, but be wary of getting too ‘free’ and heading back down in the wrong direction. It can be tricky to find your maintenance calories, especially if you’re also adjusting exercise at this time, so be patient and eventually you’ll hit your sweet spot!
- Finally, give yourself time to figure everything out. Transitioning from the active weight loss phase to maintenance does not happen overnight. It took me around six months of trial and error, as well as additional weight loss, before I finally felt like I was where I wanted to be and officially went into maintenance. In those months I lost almost twenty more pounds, re-gained a few pounds back on purpose, started exercising for the first time in my life, started playing around with macros ratios for the first time and I also had numerous heart to heart talks with myself about where I was at and where I wanted to go next. It was a challenging period but it was a necessary step to go through, in order to be ready for what happened next-maintenance.