What does it mean to Maintain?
I'm sure at some point or another you've heard the word, "maintain" in regards to dieting. This often forgotten key aspect to health is something that we should all focus on but many people skip or just don't know how to do it. Often times after coming off a diet, we go overboard with our food which results in us reversing all the hard work we put in. Either that or we continue to stay in a caloric restriction which can cause the metabolism to adapt to a longer calorie deficit. Then when we do splurge or the holidays come up and we eat more food, we end up gaining when we should be maintaining.
Maintenance mode after dieting will allow you to enjoy more of the foods you love while maintaining your current physique. When you think of "maintenance mode" don't think about eating ALL THE FOOD. Or cutting out your current exercise routine. It's NOT a vacation from healthy living. It's a period of time (often times a LONG period of time) where you focus on continuing to eat healthy and move your body to maintain your weight. There are a few key aspects to maintaining that can easily be forgotten.
Exercise - while nutrition will play a huge roll during maintenance mode, exercise is just as important. Sticking with planned workouts and including resistance training at least 3 days a week will allow you to stay strong and fit.
Nutrition - It's often encouraged to eat good, clean healthy foods 90% of the time when in a specific dieting phase. During maintenance mode, you should still stick to good, healthy eating habits but closer to 75-80% of the time. Maintenance mode is NOT a free for all with nutrition but does allow you to enjoy maybe a small treat a day or a few off meals each week. Don't forget the importance of good nutrition!
Calories - Maintenance mode means you increase your calories from the deficit you've been in during your dieting phase. If you've been in a deficit for quite some time, or have been following a drastic calorie restriction, it's a good idea to increase calories slowly. You can do this by following what is called a "reverse diet" where you slowly add in calories each week depending on your ability to maintain. This is a bit of a tricky process and is recommended to be done with assistance as you'll want to be sure you're doing it right. If you feel you are in a place where you'd like to reverse but need a little help, let's chat!
Get out of a "dieting" mindset - It can be hard to remove yourself from a dieting mindset if you've been in one for awhile. Instead of thinking about losing weight, shift your focus to losing fat. By eating more food and focusing on more strength training, you'll be more likely to build muscle. It's a proven fact that building muscle increases your metabolism which allows you to burn more fat!
Stay accountable and get some support - studies show that those that track their food and continue to stay accountable, will be more likely to maintain their weight for the long term. Yes it can be time consuming and often tedious, but can help you to stay on track with your nutrition. If you find it hard to do so on your own, get some support! Either enlist in a maintenance mode buddy or get some assistance from a coach (like me!) that can help you to stay on track.
Maintaining can be done with a little work from you! Don't give up or throw in the towel after reaching your goals. Follow these steps to maintaining your new physique and continue to feel amazing!