* MAINTENANCE METHODS *
I did a little research and found these to be the three most popular and/or recommended maintenance methods. I hope you find this as helpful as I have ...
1a -- DAILY CALORIE CAP ~ i.e. 2000 calories per day is the recommended amount for the average moderately active woman.
Slowly increase your daily calories by 100 each day for a month until you stop losing and/or continue to maintain. If you start to gain, drop the amount back down by 50-100 cals until you maintain continuously.
The basic style is to eat 3 meals + 2-3 snacks a day; or 5-6 smaller meals each day, whichever works for you.
1b -- OR, choose the amount of calories needed to maintain your goal weight, i.e. 137 x 12 = 1644 calories daily. The basic scale I found years ago went something like this:
Weight x 10 for Sedentary persons.
Weight x 11 for a little exercise.
Weight x 12 for moderately active persons.
Weight x 13 for fairly active people.
Weight x 14 for very active people.
Weight x 15 for extremely active athletes.
While this formula is just a guesstimate, it is helpful as a guideline. Since everyone is different, experiment a bit to find the right calorie cap for your body.
2 -- INCREASE SERVINGS/PORTIONS ~ increase your portions or servings of food groups starting with vegetables; add in 1-2 servings of vegetables for the first month. This can be as a salad, fresh or raw veggies, or cooked with meals. It is recommended to have up to 5-10 servings per day.
If you still lose or maintain, add in 1/2 serving of fruit daily, up to 3 servings daily. Then, 1/2 dairy, up to 3 servings a day. After that, increase your protein 1-2 oz a day. Then, if you are still losing, add in a serving of good fat (like olive oil); say 1 tsp, up to 2 tbl daily. Lastly, if you are still losing, you may add in a half - whole complex carb serving daily, i.e. 1/4-1/2 cup brown rice or beans; or a slice wg bread; or lastly, 1/2 cup cooked wg pasta (Note: have pasta 1-2 times weekly only, unless vegetarian).
Low-carb eaters can use this same method, slowly adding in 1/2 to one whole serving of complex carbs as desired. Start with veggie carbs, protein, dairy, fat, fruit, lentils, or whole grains. Again, only increase servings until you stop losing and/or maintain; but DO NOT GAIN.
3 -- IF: INTERMITTENT FASTING ~ this method is used by people who can't seem to maintain their goal weight by eating the standard three meals + snacks method (or those above?). This involves limiting meals & snacks (i.e. 2 meals & 1-2 snacks per day) during a prescribed time frame (window), say from 12 noon until 8-10 pm (or 11 am to 9 pm). Often, they eat their first meal later in the morning or around noon and a snack mid-way, then dinner a bit later, like 7-8 pm. Some people eat dinner at 6 pm and one more snack at 9-10 pm.
IMPORTANT NOTE: the biggest mistake people make is allowing themselves to eat junk or fast fried foods again, without monitoring how that affects their weight. That should not be your first choice. Instead, increase your main whole foods servings.
A doctor I had many years ago, said I could add in one fast food meal a month, after I had lost, so that I wouldn't gain back the weight. He was referring to one small serving of "real" potato fries & gravy I had once a week for lunch on Fridays. I now have healthier substitutes for that but may have that once in a blue moon, but only IF it fits into my calorie allotment for the day.
*GOOD TIPS* ~ be very careful about allowing 1-2 cookies here; or a piece of pie there; or some chips here; and some ice cream there. That can be the beginning of a slippery slope right back into obesity ...
1) FACE FACTS: You CANNOT go back to overeating unhealthy foods in unlimited amounts, if you don't want to undo all your hard work, and gain the weight back -- it's just that plain & simple!!!
2) SELF-MONITOR: if you see your weight is slipping back up; do not allow it to go up more than 5 lbs. Immediately take a look at what you have been eating, and tweak your meals again until that 5 lbs is back off ...
3) DON'T LIE TO YOURSELF ~ when you see a gain, get to work on it right away; that very same day!
4) CLEAN HOUSE, AGAIN ~ if you have allowed junk back into the house; get rid of it!
5) LIMIT EATING OUT ~ unless you consistently choose healthier options, limit eating out to once a week or month.
6) FIND HEALTHIER OPTIONS ~ i.e. have baked tators instead of french fries cooked in fat. Choose oven-baked chicken or deli BBQ spit chicken instead of fried. Or have the KFC chicken but only with a salad and NO FRIES! And have that only a few times a year (no more than once a month).
7) ONCE A MONTH RULE ~ keep the "Once A Month rule" and you should not gain any weight back. This means you cannot have and high-calorie meal, dessert, or snack more than once a month for maintenance. I believe my doctor was right on about this idea. Why -- becuz one time a month will be a wash over that amount of time: it's all about "The law of averages" rule. Averaged over a month, one off plan meal, dessert, or snack should not affect your weight.
You can still stay on plan and under your calorie cap: so plan for that. You would only have to cut your calories by 50 a day to make up for 1500 or less extra calories. If you have an off-plan day, then you must plan accordingly for the next month to offset those extra calories.
8) PLAN FOR MAINTENANCE ~ just as you have for weight-loss. This is at least a 50-50 program here. Half your effort will be to get to your goal weight; and the other half will be to keep it off!
9) WATCH THE HOLIDAYS ~ another huge mistake is allowing yourself a free-for-all pig-out during holidays. Plan for them: limit yourself to one party or find other strategies like replacing junk with UNsalted nuts, pretzels, popcorn, veggies & dip, lean meats (like turkey pepperettes), and cheeses. Take a snack baggie of nut mix for yourself, or carry a protein bar with you too.
10) CONTINUE GETTING SUPPORT ~ besides self-monitoring, keeping in touch with others creates accountability; helps you stay on track; and is a continual reminder.
Final Note ~ many maintainers find that they have to experiment a lot to find the method that works for them the best. However, there is a consensus that there must be a long-term effort for life-long, maintenance success ...