I've been at or below goal weight for 2 months now, having lost 30lbs altogether since starting my weight loss journey earlier this year. I thought I'd share some of the challenges I've faced during the maintaining stage, and how I'm approaching staying at goal weight long term.
First of all, deciding what my goal weight actually is - I originally set myself a goal weight of 10st7. For my height, a healthy BMI would put me at 10st6 or less, so 10st7 might seem to some a bit of a weird number. But I was aiming for 10st7 as that felt like the last weight I was happy with myself at. However, when I got there, I faced a temptation to go below - first of all, I didn't actually hit 10st7 - I went straight to 10st6 because of losing a couple of lbs that week, then continued to lose a few more lbs in the weeks that followed. So I settled on a 'maintaining range' of 10st0-10st7, and have stayed within this range for 2 months now. This was partly to take the focus off the little gains and losses - staying in range is what matters now, not staying at any particular number. But also it was so I could see if I was eating too little or too much, to try and help me gain perspective and not be tempted to 'stay on diet' or over-react to 'bad weeks'.
The next thing that happened was stopping logging my food on myfitnesspal - by now I have a good idea of calories, portion sizes etc, but stopping logging on myfitnesspal made it hard to work out how 'well' or 'badly' I was doing on a daily basis. I had a few days where I had too little (still loading my meals up with veggies and steering clear of snacks), and a few days where I went overboard (especially in reaction to stressful situations). I seem to have evened out now - got over the urge to go back to over-sized dinner portions or over-compensate for small indiscretions by cutting back the next day - when you're maintaining, small indiscretions (a slice of cake now and then) are actually absolutely fine - it's a matter of getting a new perspective. One thing though - I have stayed absolutely focused on maintaining my healthy habits - if I've taken my eye off the ball it's only ever been brief - losing this weight is something I definitely don't want to risk undoing. My challenge has been to balance this focus with a new perspective on what's acceptable in terms of indiscretions, having extra at social occasions, how much exercise to do, etc.
For me, maintaining coincided with a massive change - a new job which took me away from my flat. I was working before, but freelance, more part-time and flexible, with my kitchen in the next room and the ability to go for a run (etc) pretty much whenever I wanted. Now I've switched to full-time, commuting into town for the past 4 weeks, and have definitely found it a challenge to fit in the same amount of exercise. I've had to learn that this is not a failure on my part - it is simply another challenge. Plenty of people have full-time jobs and still manage to exercise. I've become a little more disciplined (still room for improvement) about getting up early to go for a run, have cycled to work on a few days when the weather's been dry, and have generally marched up escalators, asked my boyfriend to come for post-dinner walks for me, made sure I get away from my desk during the day for a walk round the office/ or even outside, etc, etc.
Lastly, I've gradually bought a whole load of new clothes. Simple things like jumpers which used to sit on my hips - these have become sack-like, underwear which was too small is now too big and has had to be gradually replaced, the exciting moment of buying a pair of size 12 jeans - these are now a bit loose if anything, and different colour tights to show off my legs - I love wearing on-the-knee skirts with burgundy/purple/grey tights - something I would never have done when I was over 2 stone heavier. I haven't spent a fortune - lots of careful searching out for nice stuff in Primark, Matalan and charity shops where I could, although the new bra was a more expensive purchase (saving up for some more of these!) I'm also buying one pair of tights a week in Accessorize - a little reward to myself for every week I stay in my new job I'm slowly getting used to how I look in the mirror. Even with a relatively modest 30lb loss, there was 'loose skin' e.g. under arms, but this seems to be tightening up as I keep exercising, running etc. I have moments where I look at myself critically in the mirror - 'does my bum look big in this' moments etc - and then kick myself - I absolutely know it's not big anymore - I know the measurements, I know my weight, I know what size clothes I wear. Losing weight has given me the power to know I'm definitely a slim person now. Coming at this weight from a downward direction has helped me feel confident with my body in a way I don't think I was when last at this weight.
I'm still weighing in here on Mondays, still going for runs and riding my bike, eating healthy meals with lots of veg, saying no to extra wine, beer etc especially at social occasions, having fruit for snacks at work (clementines and apples), and generally keeping a close eye on things. Not every day goes to plan - I feel nervous turning down cake at work, but don't turn it down when it's home-baked by my boyfriend's mum; I buy myself a bottle of wine on the way home from work in reaction to a stressful day; I have weeks where I hardly manage any exercise. But my weight is staying 'at goal', so overall things must be working. I love hearing from fellow maintainers on here, who also have less than perfect days at times, as well as hearing about the strategies adopted by the lovely people who are still on their weight loss journeys. Maintaining is very similar to weight-loss - the vigilance, the psychology of it, keeping things in perspective, staying focused - to me, this seems to prove that this has got to be a lifestyle change, not an easy fix then back to old habits - but it definitely gets easier