Living Maintenance general maintenance topics and discussions

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Old 01-19-2011, 12:11 PM   #1  
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Default Questions for longer-term maintainers. Help please.

My head is in a really bad place this week, and I’m feeling like there’s just no way I can keep doing what I’ve been doing without further tangible reward in the form of losing more pounds. And the reason I am so desperate to lose weight is NOT because I am still at an unhealthy weight (which would be a GOOD reason to feel this way), or even because I hate what I see in the mirror (a less good reason, but at least still justifiable), but because by holding steady for well over a month now, I have proof that my current calorie/exercise regimen is what I need to continue forever JUST IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN, and I feel completely cheated, defeated and disappointed that my forever-and-ever maintenance range is a wholly unsatisfying 1300 cal/day on top of an hour of heavy exercise 5 days/week (yes, I’ve read the sticky threads in the Maintainers forum on this subject). In my current bleak mindset, I’m convinced that this is unsustainable for me in the long run (even though I’ve been doing it successfully for a year now); like the men in that long-ago nutrition study on the effects of semi-starvation and resulting abnormal weight loss, I obsessively think about food and what I’m planning to eat that day, feel weak and shaky after my more-intense exercise days, and I am constantly cold. 1300 cal/day in perpetuity feels unsupportable, BUT SO IS REGAINING THE WEIGHT.

Questions for you long-term maintainers:
1. Did any of you actually get to raise your calories after you finished the weight-loss portion of your journey? By how much? If you did, how old were you when you did this, and what BMI or body-fat percentage did you choose to maintain at? Have you had to lower or raise your daily calorie total subsequently to continue maintaining that same weight in subsequent years?
2. Alternatively, did you choose your maintenance weight essentially based on what weight you randomly end up at when you eat the number of maintenance calories you can live with long term? Or do you eat in starvation-mode forever in order to maintain a lower weight? I’m particularly thinking now of some posts by Bright Angel, in which she notes that she currently maintains on a (for me) unthinkable ~1000 calories a day. If the latter, do you ever get used to it (stop feeling like you’re starving, cold all the time, thinking food-thoughts obsessively)?
3. If you were me, what would you do next? The 2 options I’ve considered are (a) give up on attaining my real goal weight, declare that I’m officially maintaining and confirm that I am truly stuck with 1300/day by trying to increase calories by 1-200/day and seeing if I start to gain again or (b) drop my daily calories to ~1100 to see if I can lose the last 7 pounds, and risk a further downward resetting of my metabolism. While I know it may seem like a “no brainer” to most of you to choose the comparatively easier option (a), for me that actually feels like the bleaker, more hopeless option because I am NEITHER at goal, NOR eating an acceptable daily calorie intake (I told you I’m feeling really bummed out). At least option b has me (maybe) achieving my goal, though I would never be able to maintain that weight if it required me to eat 1100 cal/day forever. Is there any other option out there I’m not seeing?

Last edited by neurodoc; 01-19-2011 at 12:13 PM. Reason: formatting issues
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:40 PM   #2  
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I'm not the one to answer. I successfully maintained for a year and a half, but then began to regain. So, I can't offer you any tips about it.

I will say that it's very possible that your current weight is not sustainable if you really need to work that hard and eat that little. You are probably starving with those heavy workouts 6 days a week on 1300 calories.

Many maintainers--I hope!--have been able to maintain by very gradually increasing their calories. However, there is usually a small rebound that occurs at first. If you try this, be prepared for that and don't panic.

As for the exercise, you may indeed not want to live that way. I sure don't. I was doing 5-6 days a week when I was losing. But, in the long term, I need more recovery time between workouts. I'm aiming now for 3-4 days a week. I haven't gotten a handle on the food part yet because what used to be easy in the past is no longer sustainable--namely, I can't keep up with a calorie deficit the way I used to. I'm still working on this.

Also, as time goes on, metabolism changes whether we like it or not. Our bodies are aging.

You have to ask yourself whether a higher weight for maintenance is acceptable as a trade-off for a lifestyle you can enjoy.

Jay

Last edited by JayEll; 01-19-2011 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:45 PM   #3  
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The shorter you are and the lower your goal weight the less calories you need to maintain. I am short and small boned and maintain on 1400 calories a day. If I add calories I will gain. There is no way I can eat the calories that a 6 foot 4 inch 200 pound person can eat . My body just cannot maintain on 2400 calories a day.I know I can never do that.
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Old 01-19-2011, 01:08 PM   #4  
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A few thoughts...

1) I increased my calories when I got to maintenance and am able to maintain on a relatively high number of calories (1800-ish). However, unlike many folks here, I (a) only spent four years with an overweight BMI, (b) only spent one year obese, (c) reached goal weight at the age of 23. Things like how long you spent obese and how old you are make a big difference.

2) You mentioned in the other thread that you have been treated for hypothyroidism for something like 9 years. I'm guessing your weight loss was more recent. I don't know how regularly you get your thyroid checked, but you haven't been tested since losing the weight I highly recommend having it done. My mom was diagnosed hypothyroid in her 20's, and was on the same dosage for over 40 years, until she lost weight a couple years ago and suddenly had to have her dosage adjusted. It's worth looking into in any case.

3) Some people, myself included, have occasionally broken through a plateau by actually eating MORE. The theory, though I have no evidence to back this up and YMMV, is that when your intake is too low your body thinks it's starving and holds on to every last fat cell to keep as emergency stores. The idea is that if you eat more, your body stops thinking it's starving and starts letting go of the fat. Sometimes increase the portion of your calories that come from fat can help too. Obviously this is not true for all people. However, you might try upping your calories and see what happens.

4) Since you asked for specifics from people, here is a rough version of my personal statistics. I'm 5'4" and when I started this journey I was about 185lbs and 21 years old.
- When I started losing, I ate 1200-1300/day with one uncounted cheat meal and exercised 3x/week for about 30 minutes. I gradually increased exercise to 5x/week at some point.
- I hit a plateau somewhere in there (maybe around 150-160? I don't remember). I upped my calories to 1600/day + weekly cheat meal and started losing again.
- I reached my goal weight of 130 (midpoint of the healthy BMI range for my height) eating about 1600/day.
- I continued eating the same and dropped to 127. I started eating a little more.
- I maintained at 1800-2000 + cheat meal for about a year with exercise from 3-5x/week, 30-45 mins.
- I started having all sorts of health problems, mostly involving joint pain. I wasn't able to exercise as much or as intensely. Exercise dropped to 3x/week for 30 mins at lower intensity.
- My weight suddenly started shooting up. I dropped my calories back to 1600/day and tried to exercise 5x/week. I gained 8lbs in one month at that level. I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which turned out to be the cause of my joint pain.
- Over the next year they tried to get my medication dosage right. I lost a little weight, and gained a bunch of weight.
- I was lazy about my eating and blamed all my weight gain on my thyroid. Eventually I gained back up to nearly 150. I was upset because at 1600/day I could not lose weight.
- I dropped my calories to 1400/day. I lost back to 135.
- I'm currently 135, but fit in the same clothes as I did before at 130 (thanks to weight training). I maintain on 1600-1800/day plus one uncounted cheat meal per week, with 5x/week exercise (sometimes more).

I should add that I have a desk job. My only calorie burning activity is intentional exercise since the rest of the time I sit in a chair all day.

Anyway, I don't know if any of that helps or not, but I would recommend playing with your calories to see if you can increase them before giving it up as hopeless.
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:48 PM   #5  
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+1 to Jessica's post, especially her point about upping calories. Many women, in particular, reach a point where they are eating too few calories and exercising too much, and they stop losing or even start gaining. It doesn't make sense, given the laws of thermodynamics, but it happens. (It probably has to do with leptin levels, which in addition to controlling hunger do all sorts of cool things with fat mobilization, etc.)

Another option is to try flexible eating. Instead of thinking about it as "1300 cals every day for the rest of my life," give yourself the leeway to eat some days at less than maintenance and some days at more. (No, you won't die or screw up your metabolism if you eat 900 calories one day a week; in fact, if the majority of those calories come from lean protein and fibrous veggies -- lettuce, the cruciforms, sweet peppers, cukes, etc. -- you may not even feel hungry.) The total weekly calories may work out to be exactly the same, but by eating more on some days and less on others, you leave more room in your plan for nice meals out, or for treats. You can take this a step further, and give yourself week-long diet breaks, and cut back the next week. Psychologically, this turns "cheats" -- which people associate with failure -- into "on plan", and that can be a BIG help.

b. strong!
Kim

Last edited by kaw; 01-19-2011 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:23 PM   #6  
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I've maintained now for 7 years (1 year break while pregnant)

Quote:
Originally Posted by neurodoc View Post
My head is in a really bad place this week, and I’m feeling like there’s just no way I can keep doing what I’ve been doing without further tangible reward in the form of losing more pounds. And the reason I am so desperate to lose weight is NOT because I am still at an unhealthy weight (which would be a GOOD reason to feel this way), or even because I hate what I see in the mirror (a less good reason, but at least still justifiable), but because by holding steady for well over a month now, I have proof that my current calorie/exercise regimen is what I need to continue forever JUST IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN, and I feel completely cheated, defeated and disappointed that my forever-and-ever maintenance range is a wholly unsatisfying 1300 cal/day on top of an hour of heavy exercise 5 days/week (yes, I’ve read the sticky threads in the Maintainers forum on this subject). In my current bleak mindset, I’m convinced that this is unsustainable for me in the long run (even though I’ve been doing it successfully for a year now); like the men in that long-ago nutrition study on the effects of semi-starvation and resulting abnormal weight loss, I obsessively think about food and what I’m planning to eat that day, feel weak and shaky after my more-intense exercise days, and I am constantly cold. 1300 cal/day in perpetuity feels unsupportable, BUT SO IS REGAINING THE WEIGHT.

Questions for you long-term maintainers:
1. Did any of you actually get to raise your calories after you finished the weight-loss portion of your journey? By how much? If you did, how old were you when you did this, and what BMI or body-fat percentage did you choose to maintain at? Have you had to lower or raise your daily calorie total
subsequently to continue maintaining that same weight in subsequent years?

Yes, absolutely. I'm at around 1600-1800 a day to maintain, I'm around 23% body fat right now, I was around 19% before pregnancy but 23% is just fine now! I eat more when I workout harder.

2. Alternatively, did you choose your maintenance weight essentially based on what weight you randomly end up at when you eat the number of maintenance calories you can live with long term? Or do you eat in starvation-mode forever in order to maintain a lower weight? I’m particularly thinking now of some posts by Bright Angel, in which she notes that she currently maintains on a (for me) unthinkable ~1000 calories a day. If the latter, do you ever get used to it (stop feeling like you’re starving, cold all the time, thinking food-thoughts obsessively)?

I'm in the game to stay healthy. 1000 calories for me is not healthy. Starving myself and losing muscle mass (and in turn, reduced metabolism from lack of muscle tissue) does not appeal to me. I strongly disagree that eating 1000 or 1200 calories a day is healthy for anyone except a small sedentary female but that's a debated opinion on here and I respect that some believe otherwise.

3. If you were me, what would you do next? The 2 options I’ve considered are (a) give up on attaining my real goal weight, declare that I’m officially maintaining and confirm that I am truly stuck with 1300/day by trying to increase calories by 1-200/day and seeing if I start to gain again or (b) drop my daily calories to ~1100 to see if I can lose the last 7 pounds, and risk a further downward resetting of my metabolism. While I know it may seem like a “no brainer” to most of you to choose the comparatively easier option (a), for me that actually feels like the bleaker, more hopeless option because I am NEITHER at goal, NOR eating an acceptable daily calorie intake (I told you I’m feeling really bummed out). At least option b has me (maybe) achieving my goal, though I would never be able to maintain that weight if it required me to eat 1100 cal/day forever. Is there any other option out there I’m not seeing?



Perhaps intuitive eating would be an option for you.

Last edited by sacha; 01-19-2011 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 01-22-2011, 07:26 PM   #7  
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I'm not a long term maintainer but I'll answer anyway.

1. Did any of you actually get to raise your calories after you finished the weight-loss portion of your journey? By how much? If you did, how old were you when you did this, and what BMI or body-fat percentage did you choose to maintain at? Have you had to lower or raise your daily calorie total subsequently to continue maintaining that same weight in subsequent years?

Yes! I went from around 1600-1700 while losing to 1800-1900 weekdays and no counting, but reasonable eating on the weekends. I'm 5'6", 140 lbs. 22.6 BMI and 21.5% body fat (I'm hoping to decrease this still). I stalled lots of time durning my journey and it was ALWAYS because I was eating too little and working out too much. So it's too soon to assume you'll have to eat 1300 cals forever.

2. Alternatively, did you choose your maintenance weight essentially based on what weight you randomly end up at when you eat the number of maintenance calories you can live with long term? Or do you eat in starvation-mode forever in order to maintain a lower weight? I’m particularly thinking now of some posts by Bright Angel, in which she notes that she currently maintains on a (for me) unthinkable ~1000 calories a day. If the latter, do you ever get used to it (stop feeling like you’re starving, cold all the time, thinking food-thoughts obsessively)?

I picked my weight based on my past, but most important to me is that my maintenance plan is sustainable FOREVER. I'm sorry but it's not healthy to "starve" yourself. I don't think Brightangle is starving herself, I think she is older and small and that's just all her body requires. I would never try to get used to starving. If I got to that point I would increase my weight. Right now I'm flirting with losing 10 more lbs, but if maintaining that is not sustainable, I'm fine with 140.

3. If you were me, what would you do next? The 2 options I’ve considered are (a) give up on attaining my real goal weight, declare that I’m officially maintaining and confirm that I am truly stuck with 1300/day by trying to increase calories by 1-200/day and seeing if I start to gain again or (b) drop my daily calories to ~1100 to see if I can lose the last 7 pounds, and risk a further downward resetting of my metabolism. While I know it may seem like a “no brainer” to most of you to choose the comparatively easier option (a), for me that actually feels like the bleaker, more hopeless option because I am NEITHER at goal, NOR eating an acceptable daily calorie intake (I told you I’m feeling really bummed out). At least option b has me (maybe) achieving my goal, though I would never be able to maintain that weight if it required me to eat 1100 cal/day forever. Is there any other option out there I’m not seeing?

I'd tweak your exercise intensity and increase your cals a smidge maybe to 1500. I'd also make sure you are not eating any processed foods, only whole foods and limited sodium and only good non refined carbs. I can't tell you how many times just changing the foods I ate got the scale moving again. Check out Tosca Reno's cookbooks they're amazing. I wish I had time to give you more advice, but I'm on my way out, I'll check back later. Good luck!
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:15 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neurodoc View Post
Is there any other option out there I’m not seeing?
Everyone's body is unique.
Each of us is an Experiment-of-one, as as we progress through time,
we learn and know better what we need to do to to succeed
at the goals we've chosen.

Also, we all put different values on different things,
and in life, frequently we have to trade one thing we value,
for another thing we value....Life involves trade-offs.

I see "Acceptance" as the ultimate OPTION.

Like the Serenity prayer..
I work to Accept the things I can change,
Change the things I can,
and seek the for wisdom to know the difference.

Personally, I struggle to change the things I can, but
I can't change anything but my own behavior and my attitudes.
Some of these are harder to change than others.

I have to accept the limitations of the body I live in.
I can weigh in the "normal" range,
if I am willing to follow through with the behaviors that accomplish it.

I can choose my behaviors,
but the results of that behavior are out of my control.
I work to accept this.

I can choose whether I have a positive or negative attitude toward this,
and by constantly working at Acceptance of my personal realities,
I feel positive about my life most of the time.

Last edited by Bright Angel; 01-23-2011 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 01-30-2011, 12:22 PM   #9  
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I'm not a long-term maintainer, but I can tell you about my recent experience. I'm 49, 5'8" work out hard 5 days a week and got to about 188-190 and stalled out completely for six months on 1200-1300 per day, 100% perfect compliance with my plan. When I dropped lower (900-100) nothing happened. When I went up to 1500 for a few days, I gained a pound or two. Finally I just got sick of it, and I increased my cals to 1700-1900 most days with my cals down at 1200-1300 on some days. I gained five pounds, then lost the five pounds and have been holding steady ever since, but I'm holding steady at the same weight that I was maintaining before at 1300 cals....

I HOPING that if I do this for a month or two and then drop back down to 1200-1300 I will start to lose again.

The science makes no sense to me, but that's the reality of what I've seen.
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:04 AM   #10  
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I agree with others....try adding calories very slowly and give it about a week to see what happens. I lost my last few pounds eating 1200 per day. When I got to goal (140) I started adding calories slowly. I added 50 calories a day for one week, then another 50 the second week. By then I was feeling pretty confident and started adding 100 a day for a week at a time. I started maintenance about 2 months ago and as of right now I am 5 pounds LESS than my goal weight. So I could probably add even more calories but I'm thinking I like 135 so I'm gonna wait and see if I stop losing now.

And yes I hit plateau's while eating as low as 1200 a day, and eating MORE made me lose MORE. So you just never know!

But like everyone else said, you may see a minor gain on the scale when you add new calories. Give it at least a few days to see what happens before you panic.

I am 35 years old, by the way...and I don't exercise much but I'm trying to add some for toning.

Last edited by Mama2Five; 01-31-2011 at 12:06 AM.
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:32 AM   #11  
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I think that this is the point when I decided that there was something more to it (this weight loss thing). Let me see if I can find a post I just made about it.

Ya know how you learned a lot about food by calorie counting? I did too. And I learned even more about carbs, fats and protein by reading with the weight lifters here
http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/livi...e-training-80/

And from Glory87
http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/goal...s-journey.html
and her careful selection of foods.


To which I will add ... since each of our bodies is a unique machine, we cannot accept that a carbon copy will work for us.
Foods are what we make new cells out of.
Not all foods are good for all bodies.
We need to fuel the body we have.
We need to fuel the lifestyle we have.
There simply has to be more to it than simply raising or lowering our calorie intake.

Last edited by srmb60; 01-31-2011 at 12:32 AM.
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