Weight Loss vs. Weight Maintenance

Weight loss and maintenance are both important parts of the wellness journey, and at MYLF Coaching, we work with women who are in both stages. Still, they’re two distinct phases of the process, and understanding their differences is key to getting better results and minimizing frustration.

Weight loss is the initial phase of the journey, where the focus is primarily on losing weight. This phase requires dedication, discipline, and most importantly, a caloric deficit that can be achieved by lowering caloric intake or increasing physical activity — usually a combination of both. There are proven methods for weight loss, and the more you stick to your plan, the smoother the ride will be.

When we put it that way, it seems super simple. And it IS, in theory. But many people start to think about maintenance way too early. How will I maintain this? What does this look like long term? There’s NO way I can do this my whole life. It’s easy to lose sight of the goal.

Weight loss requires a certain level of discomfort that we tend to want to avoid. It may look like staying away from certain foods or shifting the proportions around. It can be physically uncomfortable, but our approach minimizes hunger, so most times, it is MENTALLY uncomfortable.

Food may have been your comfort, your entertainment, your way of celebrating or closing out a tough day. Now, it is the FUEL that nourishes your body, and this mindset shift can be uncomfortable. It means that you have to find other emotional support systems, other coping mechanisms, other HABITS.

The easiest path here is to figure out WHEN you’ll be able to add that coping mechanism back in instead of finding a replacement habit. But following this route makes you fixate your attention on your perceived gaps, and soon enough, you will cave. This means delaying your weight loss and keeps you stuck on a cycle of gaining and losing weight, but never achieving a final result long term.

Eating for weight loss is uncomfortable

We KNOW dieting and eating less is HARD. But what is EVEN HARDER is dragging out the dieting process for YEARS by trying to combine your weight LOSS era with your weight MAINTENANCE era. 

When you’re further away from your goal, you can almost “get away” with a lot more in the beginning. So it’s easy to think you will always “get away” with these things. The closer you get to your goal, the HARDER it is, the MORE CONSISTENT you have to be, which is why we see people get stuck in that “last 15 lbs” phase.

There are things people find hard to part with, when in fact, everything adds up. Unless it’s straight-up lean protein, it adds up VERY quickly, taking you out of your deficit. This leads to frustration because you feel like you were being “so good” and you STILL didn’t lose weight.

Weight loss can be frustrating enough, especially in the beginning because you are learning it’s not a LINEAR process. The scale reflects the fat fluctuations. But it also reflects muscle gain, fluids, water, inflammation, illness, your cycle, digestion, etc. Over time, you learn to accept those shifts and understand your body, and your frustration decreases. Frustration grows when we’re stuck on a plateau and realize we’ve been adding in bits carelessly, and THAT is stalling us.

In theory, you CAN make progress slow and steady over time with an 80/20 approach. But achieving that balance is hard. If you’ve been stuck for weeks, you’re not really at an 80/20. This approach requires VERY HIGH frustration tolerance and expectation management, which I have found to be the HARDEST PART for people. And there’s a caveat. If you’re going 80-20, you should NOT compare yourself to someone who’s going at 95 or 100. The results will be very different.

Weight maintenance = expectation management

One common thing we see is people staying around the same weight for weeks. They THINK they’re doing weight loss. But in reality, they’re adding things back in and they end up in a MAINTENANCE cycle by accident. Except they don’t think they can maintain this. They envisioned maintenance as adding back MORE of the old things, more frequently, and with more flexibility.

The way we eat for weight loss and how we eat for maintenance are SIMILAR, but they are not the SAME. Everyone sort of forgets that maintenance is an actual PHASE in itself. They think MAINTENANCE means, “how can I MAINTAIN this hard work that I just did AND go back to the way things used to be?”

In fact, maintenance is more about, “how can I BUILD on this? How can I eat MORE CALORIES and continue to build on this healthy base I created?”

If you indulge me for a bit, cars are machines that run off of intricate systems, meaning you don’t just put gas in it and it magically goes. There’s an intricate system working together to make the car function. And those systems require regular maintenance if you want them to run WELL for a long time.

Like cars, our bodies are complex systems. What if we thought about maintenance in the same way? “This body is special to me, I want to take care of it so that it can operate optimally for a LONG time.” 

UNLIKE cars, we can’t trade our bodies in. So doesn’t it make sense to place MORE importance on maintaining the systems that keep our body in excellent working order?

All that said, what is weight maintenance?

Maintenance is looking at your body like the ASSET it is and doing everything you can to take care of it. When you’re striving to care for your body, you aren’t thinking, “What can I get away with and still have a working car?

Maintenance isn’t an END goal. It’s not somewhere you ARRIVE. It’s something you DO not because you HATE the asset you are maintaining, but because you LOVE it and it is IMPORTANT to you. 

The goal of maintenance is to MAINTAIN the weight loss you worked hard for while bringing your calories back up. You don’t change the type of fuel suddenly — you just need MORE OF IT. This needs to happen slowly at first. And then you work to become a person that demands more energy in your day, so you provide your body with more energy.

Maintenance is not a DESTINATION that you ARRIVE at but a process. It is a lifestyle. It’s about doing things while loving your body and wanting to base all decisions on what is best for it. 

Weight maintenance doesn’t have to mean egg whites and grilled chicken

Every MYLF Coaching program gives you a FRAMEWORK you can build on to create a lifestyle that supports your goals over time.

The real secret to long-term success is not to just change BEHAVIORS because that will generate a temporary change. Instead, successful weight loss and maintenance is about changing your MINDSET and figuring out what is behind your actions. We ACT certain ways because we THINK certain ways. We think a certain way because we BELIEVE a certain way. 

Are you ready to TRANSFORM your relationship with food and your body?

Book a consultation now to learn more about the MYLF way.

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