Weight Loss Support - Is it harder to diet or maintain weight once lost?

01-31-2008, 03:12 PM
Is it harder to diet or maintain weight once lost? Ok, I'm whining that I regained weight I worked so hard to lose two years ago. Of course I know why I gained it back, because I quit the basic rules of nutrition and made a lot of daily mistakes - little ones and big ones. I lost about 10 lbs without really pushing it, but with time and now I'm trying to lose the last 10-15 lbs a little faster by revving it up with more exercise and carb cutting. I'm dropping the weight faster recently, so honestly I think it's easier to lose weight - for me if I really focus hard I seem to be able to get 1-2 lbs off a week, then it is to maintain.

I guess I don't like daily exercise and I lack self discipline unless I'm pushing for a goal. Life long nutrition in our society seems to be hard, passing up fast food which I love, pizza and some other junk... Yet I know I feel better thinner, have more energy and enjoy life more then when I gain the weight and don't like myself fat, and can't wear cute clothes. This time when I get down to where I want to be, and get toned up again with weights, I'm going to have to figure out a plan to keep it up... is it after we lose the weight that we need the fatchicks site the most? I see a lot of people here have lost weight and are maintaining right?

01-31-2008, 03:19 PM
In my honest opinion, maintaining is harder. At least when you're losing, you have the thrill of seeing the scales go down. On maintenance, it's even more trial & error, not to mention that you have to be extra careful of old, bad habits trying to creep back at times. (21 days? I WISH!)

01-31-2008, 03:25 PM
I have to agree....maintaining is harder. BUT...it has things that also make it easier. If you're maintaining, you know what losing takes. You have experience doing it. You have experience being in smaller sizes and feeling good about your body, and you'll NOTICE it easier if you aren't taking care of business and keeping on plan.

At the same time, you lose that every day, "look! The scale went down!" motivation, which can make it harder to keep your drive up. It helps if, while you're losing, you focus your goals on non-weight-things (like health or fitness) so you aren't defining success totally by the scales. It also helps if you continue setting non-weight-related goals for yourself in maintenance...maybe a changing body fat percentage, or nutritional goals...other things to work toward.

Both of these have helped me in maintenance to let go of motivating myself only by the scale.

01-31-2008, 03:29 PM
In my honest opinion, maintaining is harder. At least when you're losing, you have the thrill of seeing the scales go down. On maintenance, it's even more trial & error, not to mention that you have to be extra careful of old, bad habits trying to creep back at times. (21 days? I WISH!)

I agree 100%.

Also, bodies change over time. Life changes, too. My life is completely different now than when I was losing weight and if I don't hop to and properly accommodate, I gain weight. I'm also past that age 25 mark and I will surely have a slight yet gradual metabolism slow down.

You have to learn to work with different variables. Weight loss is temporary. Maintenance is longterm.

01-31-2008, 03:45 PM
I'd say that there are at least two sides to it. I did some maintaining for awhile, and first of all, I was amazed at how much I could eat and maintain, after having been restricting calories for so long. Of course, I kept up with my exercise regularly, if not the 5-6 times a week as when I was losing. If I hadn't done that, then I think I wouldn't have been able to eat as much.

Second, I had learned how and what to eat during weight loss, AND I knew I had to continue that. I didn't for a moment think that "now it's OK to go back to eating the old way." I had done that several times in the past, with the expected results--gaining back all the weight. So in a way, it's easier because of what I learned.

The other side of it is that it's also easy to become complacent--"get away" with overeating and not see immediate gain, and then think it's OK to do again. And again. This won't go on forever--suddenly you're up 3 pounds, only you're having trouble pulling in the reins now. Or you just decide "I don't care, I 'deserve' to enjoy life." What a lie that is--if we're talking about "deserving" to overeat! As though overeating is one of the rights in the Constitution!

So falling off of maintenance can be really difficult to deal with. For one thing, it means getting stricter again.

And of course, there's the fact that for the rest of one's days, you must pay attention and be aware and get regular exercise. This isn't exactly the dream of eating bon-bons on the chaise longue... :joker: Which was a lie anyway.

So... Is it worth it? Oh yes! :yes: Because being healthy is so much better than being unhealthy! Isn't that what is most important?

But in answer to your question--ahem, I guess I got carried away--losing weight is harder to begin with. Maintaining is harder because it's open ended.


01-31-2008, 03:47 PM
Hey Horsey, this is an excellent question! For 20 years, I lost weight and regained it EVERY time, in my mind, maintenance is much much much harder because it NEVER ENDS.

In July 2004, when I decided to change my life completely, I really really looked at my 20 year failed dieting history. I looked at what worked and what didn't work. What I found out was I had no problems losing weight, I did it over and over. I could never keep the weight off. I discovered my entire dieting history (20 years!) looked like this:

1. Diet, lose weight, reach a goal weight, stop dieting, regain weight.
2. Diet, lose weight, give up for some reason, stop dieting, regain weight.

When I looked at it like that, it seemed pretty clear - I can't stop dieting or I'll regain weight. That kinda scared me, because for me dieting SUCKED. It was really punitive, restrictive (plain chicken breasts, lots of apples, ice berg lettuce salads) and I was hungry and miserable. So, I thought, what changes can I make to how I NORMALLY eat that I can stick to forever?

I made a lot of big changes (switching to a more plant-based lifestyle and eating tons of fruits and vegetables every day) and a lot of little changes (whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta, brown rice instead of white rice). I decided what foods I could not live without - red wine, dark chocolate, peanut butter and what foods I COULD live without (fast food, sugary soda, packaged baked goods).

I came to terms with the fact that I have issues with sugary/empty carb food - if I eat a cookie, I immediately want 10 cookies (crammed in my mouth as fast as possible). I decided to try life without eating the first cookie and it's like shackles fell off my feet. I was no longer at the mercy of my compulsions, the sugar cravings vanished completely. I decided to try new healthy foods (as a kind of a game, try a new healthy food every week, as part of my old reward system) - natural peanut butter (wow, so much better than waxy regular), greek yogurt (wow, so much thicker and richer than the Yoplait fat free stuff that never satisfied me), roasted sweet potatoes (so decadent and sweet after giving up sugar).

I liked to cook, so making healthier dinners isnt an issue for me. I found out I can make time in my life to grocery shop, pack lunches, cut up vegetables for a week's worth of snacks on Sunday nights. As you said, it's nearly impossible to eat healthy by accident - if you don't plan to have an apple in the afternoon, you probably won't have one handy when it's snack time.

I weigh myself every week - I am accountable EVERY week. If my weight is up - it's grilled chicken salads for lunch and smaller portions for dinner until the scale is back where I want it. I am NEVER complacent.

Wow, I talked so much! In some ways maintenance is harder than weight loss because it doesn't end. In some ways, maintenance is easier for me because I formed a lot of healthy habits that sustain me easily. Sundays is menu planning/grocery shopping day - the end (just the way it's laundry day, it's just what I do on Sundays). I also have a lot more faith/trust in me and my body. Last night, some Ritz crackers got out of my control and I ate more than I had planned (I had planned one eating zero). That is OKAY, I wasn't fat because I ate 20 ritz crackers in one sitting one time. I can forgive myself a lot more because I know I am immediately back on track at the next eating opportunity.

I am for 90% on plan and that's not a hard goal to meet at all!


PS - I make my own delicious healthy pizza with Boboli whole wheat crust, spicy pizza sauce, spinach, red onion, kalamata olives, sun dried tomato and low fat feta cheese - it's soooo good! I have it at least once a month, I look forward to my own pizza night :)

01-31-2008, 03:47 PM
Well, I've only been maintaining about 6 months or so now and I gotta tell you, I have been finding this more difficult then the actually LOSING portion.

As many of you know I was incredibly determined, disciplined and CONSISTIENT throughout the losing portioin of my journey (although, I've probably forgotten some of the gorier details while I was losing). The here and now is what is forefront on my mind. And I truly found the whole process thrilling. I loved watching my weight and clothing size plummet. I loved "fitting" into chair/places/spaces better. I loved the compliments, the newfound energy. The whole kit and kaboodle.

Having hit maintenance, I've found many of my old cravings come back, which has made this more difficult, *sigh*. But that's okay, though it may be more difficult, if nothing more then the fact that maintenance lasts so much longer then the actual losing part, I've really learned a lot as I was losing. These learned behaviors have made maintaining a bit easier to pull off. I've incorportated some wonderful lifetime, SUSTAINABLE habits that always help to keep me/get me back on track, such as planning, planning and more planning. Tracking those pesky calories, daily weighing, exercise. I've got great recipes to turn to, know how to deal with social events and so on and so on. I KNOW what to do now - and luckily - I DO IT!!! Because I am absolutely DETERMINED to maintain this weight loss.

ALthough I am no longer losing and don't have the so called "thrill" of all those things I've mentioned above, there are other thrills involved with maintaining. No more health worries, no more worrying about fitting places and no more ever again having to worry about clothing, yes, I want to fit into all my new clothing year after year. I LOVE my new life and just staying here is truly rewarding. As I may have mentioned, I AM ABSOLUTELY DETERMINED TO MAINTAIN THIS WEIGHT LOSS. No if, ands, or buts about it. That's the plan - and I'm sticking to it.

Watching our longtime maintainers, MAINTAIN is very helpful to me. You know who you are and I thank you. :D

01-31-2008, 03:48 PM
I have spent years of maintaining a specific weight and found that it was a lot easier than what I am trying to do now.

Back in the late 80s I had decided to heck with dieting. I had tried several in succession and each time I would gain the weight that I lost back. Finally, I said that's it, I'll learn to accept myself for who I am and work on the things that I could change (part of the Serenity Prayer). And, that is what I did!

I divorced an abusive husband #2, was celibate for seven years, went into sexual abuse therapy, tried a couple of different kinds of jobs out,changed religions, joined the 12 Steps, took up an exercise program and stuck with it for twelve years. All during that time I wore a size 22/24W. Now, you may argue maintaining that size was easy and maybe it was but my weight didn't fluctuate for fifteen years. Yes, I had holiday binges and I ate GS cookies, etc. but the weight never went up or down more than a couple of pounds that whole time. Ironically, I took all the focus off of my weight and put it on other things in my life! I often wondered if that was the secret!

Anyway, now I am dieting and I feel like I am learning to ride a horse (which I was never very good at) all over again! I really feel like a duck out of water doing this. I can exercise until the cows come home but ask me to eat 1/3 c this or 1/2 c of that and I am like "Say what?"

So, all I can say is I just want to get this "off my back (or actually front)" and then get back to what I know how to do best: maintain. I can barely wait until that day and THEN I will tackle some other "unfinished project" in my life.;)

01-31-2008, 03:58 PM
I think maintaining is harder but after maintaining a constant weight for over 2 years your body does it easier because it is used to being at that weight.

I look foward to the months to come when I have this problem

01-31-2008, 04:23 PM
I think maintaining is harder but after maintaining a constant weight for over 2 years your body does it easier because it is used to being at that weight.

I have found this to be true with me - my body has a happy weight a little under 130 lbs. I have to really really go "offplan" for an extended period of time (a normal weekend night out with the girls with wine and chocolate cake and eating out of the bread basket seemingly has NO effect) but 2 weeks of holiday eating at my mom's + a week of work convention in Vegas (helloooo Paris buffet) does. In the past 3 years, I've only been above my "red line warning warning light" of 131 3 times. All three time a month of careful, mindful eating has put me back below 130. For example, as a result of the holidays/Vegas I was up to 132.5 on January 13, as of Sunday I was back to 130 without any dramatic change in eating (lowering normal calories about 300 a day).

01-31-2008, 05:03 PM
I actually don't find maintenance to be that difficult. I get to eat plenty of calories and I do a lot of exercise. I think the important thing is that you have to be a mindful maintainer. You can't just revert to your old habits, you have to stay conscious and aware of what goes in your mouth and it really, really helps to keep on exercising. Maintenance is more tedious than weight loss, but I wouldn't say that it is more difficult.

01-31-2008, 08:05 PM
I find maintenance a lot harder than losing was, but as everyone has said, it is forever, so worth the effort. I've been maintaining for over six years, eating mindfully, strictly and exercising continuously. It is forever.

My body doesn't seems to have "adjusted" like others have mentioned; I suspect my happy weight is right back where I started, about 65 pounds ago :p

If I go off plan for more than 2 days, I gain and it's very hard to take off again. That's a real incentive for staying ON PLAN!


01-31-2008, 08:10 PM
As the person who has been trying for 3 years to lose the last 15-20 pounds....I'll say this. I'll let ya know when I get there. :p

But if you call what I've been doing for the last 3 years maintenance...I'll say that it isn't that much different from losing except that I'm in better shape (so exercise is easier and more fun) and I know more than when I started.

01-31-2008, 09:43 PM
I've been thinking about this question a lot. One of the great things for me about maintenance, is having reached my so goal, I know how fantastic it is to be at a thin and healthy and normal weight. Just knowing how wonderful it is, after being morbidly obese for close to 20 years, is a very, very good reason to remain this weight, hence making the desire to stay here VERY strong.

I've also at this point, figured out what works for me - and more importantly what doesn't work for me. So, I guess that aspect does make maintenance somewhat easier.

I also had to make sure that I kept/keep my weight and therefore my health at the forefront of my mind. So yup, I've made it my occupation. I now work in a gym and run a weight loss program there and have my own weight management business from home as well. I'm thinking I need all the insurance I can get. I couldn't possilbly let myself go doing what I do now. Or could I? Just kidding. Well, not really, but you know what I mean. ;)

01-31-2008, 10:58 PM
I met a woman on a trip a few weeks ago, she was 48, hanging out at the pool in a bikini, she'd just lost weight and the trip was her reward. Me in my frumpy black (of course) miracle suite (supposedly sucking in 10 lbs told her "yeah, but how about keeping it off." She said, "all of the "hard work"... of course I will." I told her my story of losing weight two years ago, 20 pounds which I thought was huge (nothing compared to the success of many on this site) just to regain it. She gave me her "tips" which was nothing new, having been on this site especially I knew I knew more then her, but I listened politely and was "impressed" with her 20 lb weight loss. She said if she knew it was so "easy" to lose the weight, it only took her four months of work in some program with a local nutritionist and 45 minutes of exercise a day she'd have done it a long time ago.

BUT... WHY to all of the magazine articles say MOST people gain the weight back if they dieted? Is that TRUE? I did so I'm one of the stats here. Is it because we go on these super diets, lose the weight from the thrill of watching the scale, get fit and then as Jayeli said, we kick back, start cheating a little here, a little there - for me pizza, a little beer, fast food and viola there's three pounds then all of a sudden 10 and it can happen quite quickly.

Jackie O had a "rule" I read in a book about her (and she stayed within 5 lbs of the same thin weight her entire life) that even a few pounds of weight gain and it'd be back to dieting (for her dieting meant chicken broth for a few days which wasn't the healthiest)... I asked my thin beautiful 50 something Dr how she did it. She said "its' easy, you have a set weight you won't go over, if you do, go over 5 lbs of what you want to be, then it's BACK TO WORK." Meaning, exercise, dieting, calorie counting, etc. But I can't imagine this woman was out in the meantime eating fast food burgers and pizza, or drinking fat tire beer to relax.

01-31-2008, 11:39 PM
Yes, horsey, it seems to be true that a majority of people who lose weight gain it back within 5 years. But remember, that still means there are plenty who do not!

Your doctor is right--that's exactly how one does it. There is an upper limit on weight over which one won't go. I've heard other non-overweight people say the same thing. And I think they probably are not going through the drive-thru. ;)

Once you lose your taste for fast food (which does happen!), and, in addition, once you really know how many calories are in a Quarter Pounder or Chili Cheese Fries, etc., you are not inclined to eat them very often! There are so many better foods that can be eaten for that many calories.


02-01-2008, 12:52 AM
Jay. yes I've learned a lot about calories in certain foods, I won't even buy a lot of them anymore. And lately I've lost the taste for fast food, except a burger without a bun and that's an occassional treat. I have NO desire for pizza which I ate consistently (and mindlessly) the winter before this (along with lots of other junk), leading to some of my weight gain, the thought of it makes me sick.

Even if the key isn't a five lb rule that you won't go over without going back to work - it's how the clothes fit right? I started buying size 12 again after getting rid of every single size 12 pants I had when I lost weight before. I asked once on this site about that, and women said they key is "maybe" buying a few pants in that size (one person said ONLY at the thrift store too) but NOT buying FAT clothes at all. Now my size 8-10 are in the garage in a box, and I worked so hard to wear those clothes. I'll throw out the size 12 again, and the xl shirts... but I won't buy them again this time around.

02-01-2008, 01:49 AM
My goal weight is 127, my "red line rule" is 131. I weigh myself every Sunday (except during my period). If my weight is anywhere between 127 and 130 I rock on with my maintenance plan (1800-2000 calories, a few treats here and there, estimating calories in my head). If my weight is 131 - BAM - right back to weight loss mode - 1400-1600 calories a day, calculating calories carefully, limit treats.

Between 127 and 131 I notice very little difference in my clothes.

Even during my "maintenance" eating, to most "normal" people, I eat like I'm on a strict diet. No fast food, very little sugary stuff, limited booze (one glass of red wine a week, maybe), no packaged baked goods, no junk in the house AT ALL. I'm perfectly happy eating this way - I love food and I love the healthy foods I eat as much as I ever loved M&Ms and scones and venti caramel lattes. I look forward to all my meals - I am HAPPY to continue eating this way, I honestly don't feel like I will gain the weight back.

02-01-2008, 08:27 AM
Glory mentions that her clothes don't seem that different within the weight range she allows herself. I've seen others post that clothing isn't necessarily a reliable indicator--because of the stretch factor.

I'd rather go by pounds. Just my preference.

And actually, I think the best indicator besides pounds is body fat percentage. I'm more interested in health than in clothing.


02-01-2008, 09:40 AM
I don't think being in maintainence mode is any different than being in weight loss mode. Aside from a few calories here and there, or perhaps decreased exercise, I find that it's the same, without the thrill of scale victories.

I have been in involuntary maintenance since Octoboer 2007 and though that's not too long now, I find that the biggest hurdle for me was that I can't be all, "Aaaah I've lost the weight, now I can rest". I will always have to watch what I eat and I will always, ALWAYS need exercise. It's all gravy once you accept that.

02-01-2008, 01:20 PM
Jay, I think you are right, weight is the indicator. There needs to be a "happy weight" and a set weight one won't go over with out getting back to work on diet/exercise a little harder. I don't think I caught on to a 10 lb weight loss last winter until it was too late. If I'd caught on at 5 lbs maybe I wouldn't have gotten into the "heck with it" mentality all over again.

02-01-2008, 01:37 PM
Maintenance is decidedly easier for me. I'm used to the smaller portions now and honestly sometimes my maintenance calories seem like too much food.

I think the main reason why it is easier is because most of the foods that were "off limits" during dieting gross me out now. I set out to lose the weight for health reasons primarily and so I did a lot of research about nutrition. That research has put me off fast food and overly processed food forever.

I also have a different mindset now and go out of my way to walk places versus driving. I think this helps a lot too.

02-01-2008, 02:20 PM
Horsey, good for you for focusing on maintenance this time around! :cp: I think we've all had to learn that lesson a few times before it sticks.

You might want to check out a book called Thin For Life (http://www.amazon.com/Thin-Life-Success-People-Weight/dp/0618340556/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201889943&sr=8-1), written by Anne Fletcher. Unlike a typical diet book, it focuses on maintaining a weight loss. A few years ago we did a chapter-by-chapter discussion in the Maintenance Library (http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=169) and the threads are still stickied there. Chapter 5 is called Nip It In The Bud: Break The Relapse Cycle and it's full of ideas about keeping lapses from turning into relapses. The idea of having a top weight that one absolutely won't go over is discussed as well as other stratgies. It's one of the Maintainers Forum's favorite books and is highly recommended for anyone looking to keep weight off for life. :)

02-02-2008, 02:36 AM
Thanks Meg I'll write the name of that book down so I'll have it when I get to maintain, I'm NOT there yet, I have another 10-15 lbs to go although my immediate goal is down to 5 lbs, yahooooo.... I've lost 4-5 lbs in the past two weeks! BUT I've done this before, so I know what can happen. I'm very focused right now on losing before a birthday. It's when I lost focus before and was stupid that I gained it ALL back within just over a year. 20 lbs of hard work. This time it's going to be life long weight, I hope and pray.