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What Happens AFTER Weight Loss?

I’m not anywhere close to reaching the maintenance stage.  I’ve still got a good 15 lbs. left to go.  But, I think about maintenance all the time.  I know it is a topic many of

our members think about.  It’s that point after you’ve reached that number you’ve set for yourself and you think, “Well.  What now?”

I have been there before.  I lost a lot of weight a few years ago and I remember when I hit my goal.  It felt a lot like after you had opened all your gifts on Christmas – there was a lot of excitement but I didn’t know what to do or where to start.

For me so many questions and issues came to mind when I thought about maintaining my new self.  Perhaps you’ll recognize some of them:

  • How do you live as a new person? People noticed my dramatic weight loss and every day I spent having to explain “why” or “how.”  One person even asked me if I had cancer.  The assault on my senses of what I had believed to be a personal journey was suddenly opened up for public examination.

    What Happens After Weight Loss

    Photo Credit: Image: luigi diamanti /

  • Fear of failure. I had done the hard yards but I always kept looking over my shoulder waiting for a trip up.  After I had reached the stage where I had accomplished something so profound and frankly, life altering, I worried that I wouldn’t have the strength to continue long term – especially since I had dieted on and off before.
  • What’s my goal? I felt like the all important “target” was missing and without that I would slowly slide back into my old habits.  Without the structure and focus of the end game I wondered what it is that I was working towards.  What’s my new goal?

How did I handle maintenance? I struggled – especially with the personal questions. I felt like my weight or lack thereof had again taken over my life.  Fortunately, there were only so many questions to be answered and armed with some stock comments I was able to deflect.  My weight loss was about me.  Not about the public.

The other two issues – the fear and the lack of goals were where I really had to change my thinking.  What saved me was an article – long lost I’m afraid – that pointed out focusing on the number on the scale was a loaded proposition.  If you are always chasing a weight number you may miss the bigger picture.  The weight loss and maintenance for me was really about improving my health.

I reminded myself of the other barometers of success in order to keep moving forward with my new habits.  My knees felt less stress.  I could hike with my dog.  I had more energy.  The new goal was to keep my body feeling good.  If I moved a little in one direction or the other it wasn’t something to fixate on.  I felt the overall well-being was my mantra.

I still feel that way even though I have gained back all the weight and then some.  It wasn’t about me failing at the maintenance phase – I stayed at my goal weight for five years and felt fantastic.  A serious illness was what caused the weight return.

So I march forward with two concurrent goals this time – the short term number I’d like to see, but the healthier me I need for raising my quality of life.  Knowing it is an ongoing effort I know I can’t fail – I can just keep moving forward.

I now want to ask you to share your stories – do these issues ring true with your experience?  I know what worked for me may not work for you.  What has helped you stay at maintenance?  We want to inspire others by our journeys, and we also want to know what motivation, tools or advice you use or need for that phase of the experience.  Let’s get started by talking about it.

9 Responses to What Happens AFTER Weight Loss?

I’m grateful to the calorie king site. I came here in 2003 weighing 255lbs. Here 8 years later, I still weigh in my maintenance range. I came here for health reason being a Pre-Diabetic. Thanks to my weight loss I still have not progessed to full fledge diabetes. I went into maintenance at 205lbs in 2003 and today I weigh 203 lbs.

My theory is that maintenance is different for everybody. The best thing I did for maintenance was to stay with c.k. The support system is invaluable. Some days I just lurk and read the blogs and forums. Walking is probably the most important exercise that I do. At age 54 my weight lifting consist of mostly toning. I know I should do more cardio but sports injuries restrict me. I like eating frequent small meals with low calorie snacks such as fruit.

Thanks for the blog, Leenie. Ideally, we’ll all be in maintenance longer than we’ll be losing, so this is an important topic to be talking about.

As I neared my goal, I read “Thin for Life: 10 Keys To Success from People who Have Lost Weight and Kept it Off” by Anne Fletcher. This book was invaluable in helping me focus my thinking and prepare for maintenance.

I’ve been in maintenance for a year now, and I feel great. I don’t really think in terms of goals, except maybe from the perspective of what I don’t want: More than anything, I don’t want to fall into old habits of out-of-control eating. I want to eat so that I can feel my best emotionally and physically. I don’t want to gain more than 2 pounds, so that my clothes won’t get too tight. Keeping an eye on my weight-loss graph on CK is motivating to me–I love to put another weigh-in dot each week on that line and try to keep it nice and flat! One goal I do have is to log at least 300 minutes of exercise per week. I don’t log my food anymore, but I do log exercise, after I read that reaching an hour of exercise most days a week was one of the most important predictors of success in maintenance.

I do worry about an illness or injury causing weight gain. Looking back on it, do you think you could have done anything differently during that phase of your life? Is there any way to prepare for the possibility of illness or injury before it happens?

Thank you, Leenie for starting this blog :)
I’ve been with CK for 2 years. I’ve lost 15 pounds. I am 3 pounds from my goal….but the way my body behaves I expect that even when I reach goal I will have a tough time keeping there. Oh, it may only be 3 pounds, but there is always a chance, with travel, or celebrations that the 3 will move into 5…or 8. Then, yes, the clothes don’t fit right and I don’t feel right.
I’ve been overweight since age 8. I always hoped I could ‘eat like other girls’ once I lost the weight and so became “Queen of the Yoyos!” Everytime I read the statement, “Obesity is a life-long disability” I find my self thinking, “but not me, right?” So, I guess I need help with acceptance.
I’m aware of the need for exercise…and with my working full time, the 1 hour a day seems excessive. I can work at 30 minutes….but the hour is tough. Especially with winter coming…or maybe here. And the thought of a medical issue that would restrict me…well, that’s a toughie! Yipes!! I salute you for keeping at your weight loss…and I bet it helps you sympathize with the rest of us who keep struggling.
Again, thank you…I look forward to the continuing discussion and tips that one can only get from CK! :)

No offense, but i suggest adding a facebook like button for the blog!

Hi Martha – Thanks for the advice! Cheers!

Hi Teddie!

Thanks so much for your thoughtful note and congrats on your amazing achievement! I hope we’ll stay in touch and update each other on our progress! Cheers! Leenie

Hi Martha – No worries! We appreciate all feedback! Cheers ~ Leenie, CK Staff

Hi Janette – Please feel free to use along with a linkback. Thanks! Eileen

Hello.This post was really fascinating, particularly because I was looking for thoughts on this issue last week.