The challenges of maintaining at goal weight

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 :)

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36 Replies

  • wow

    it's pretty scary, maintaining,

    we don't want to put the weight back on,

    I would still like to lose a few more pounds

    so it's not so stressful when unexpected events turn up.

    life is for living, and you seem to have the balance right.

    it's so nice having size 12 clothes fit perfect.

    And I've found Aldie bra's very comfortable and inexpensive.

    let's hope we can keep up the good work in the run up to Xmas

    I've lost 2 stone 3ibs ..

  • Thanks for the Aldi tip - might need to check that out although there isn't one all that near me - although worth the journey I think :)

    We've lost the same amount of weight - snap! Those few more lbs will come with time, no need to rush. It's really important to start believing that you can stay at goal weight even with social stuff coming up. Then after you've been a steady healthy weight for a while, hopefully it'll start to get less scary :)

  • So many congratulations on your many successes. Thank you for this post Ruth. Excellent points put so very well. Focus...being in the right mindset, being fully aware....I'm in stalling mode and just reading about your consistency, planning and determination is a real help.

  • Sorry you're still in stalling mode PP - the time of year really doesn't help! I think we're all feeling the pressure with different types of foods on the menu as the weather gets colder. My consistency doesn't always feel like that on a day-to-day basis, but it comes out that way over time. So maybe be easy on yourself with all the little ups and downs - it will all even out in the end. What are you struggling with the most at the moment?

  • I had very poor sleep patterns over the last few weeks...that seems to have contributed but I've bought some herbal remedy stiff which worked last night...slept for eight hours. I think that will make all the difference. I've been eating my hubby's wonderful food.when I make soups I leave out potato and meat. My hero cooks full on so cals go up and it's deliscious. So back on track! No excuses!

  • When you started, you talked about your OH cooking food that wasn't necessarily helping you stay on plan. Can you have the conversation with him again where you ask him to help you a bit more recipe-wise, as you say, less of the potatoes and meat, but still full on with the flavour?

    Hope you get the sleep you need. Lack of sleep definitely won't help - I think it can cause water retention etc too. Do you drink herbal teas as well as taking your herbal remedy? Pukka do a nice blend that contains valerian and lettuce I think, but any herbal tea seems to help me, esp peppermint, then lying on the floor doing Alexander technique to relax, or sometimes a pre-bed bath. I think it sounds like good sleep is your priority right now. Get a routine in place as well as the remedy which seems to be working. Hope you can re-recruit your hubby to the healthy-eating cause too :)

  • Hi Ruth, you are so right! Went back to my old posts and re read them. So a conversation is needed.

    The pukka rice, that sounds like a good idea. I do love lettuce and I know that it's good for sleep. I do think if my sleep gets back to a good pattern I'll be well on the way to getting the mindset right.

    Have a good week this week ruth. 😄you're always such a wonderful inspirational coach on this forum, thank you

  • Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and challenges. Maintaining is definitely something I struggle with. I've only just come to the realisation that the weight I am now is the lowest I've been in 5 years. I'm only 4lbs away from a healthy BMI. Whilst my goal weight is still over a stone away, I'm really concentrating on achieving a lifestyle where I know I can maintain the loss in the future. Well done on being really self aware and understanding that you can relax a bit now you don't need to be willing your body on to drop the pounds.

  • It is definitely a bit weird how your brain has to catch up with the weight loss. Especially as the weight loss process feels so slow at the time. I have absolutely renewed respect for anyone who's ever tried or succeeded to lose weight. I have to admit I didn't 'relax' at all until slightly after I reached goal, if anything I increased my focus - I was so afraid of not making it there. But I do think it's important to start appreciating how much you've achieved. Lowest weight in 5 years is incredible. Especially when you think of the alternative (my personal fear was that I'd carry on gaining... indefinitely...)

  • Hi Ruth,

    This is such an excellent post, and will be helpful to so many people both now and in the future - thank you so much for detailing your challenges and giving those excellent tips for how to cope. They are invaluable. You have given a lot of hope by sharing your experience - and concluding that it's a lifestyle change and that it gets easier as time progresses.

    I think the maintaining 'range' is a sensible and achievable strategy - and takes into account the natural fluctuations of weight on a day to day basis.

    Your new clothes sound lovely - and it's great that you've coped with the transition from freelance to more structured working conditions with that commute.

    Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

    Lowcal :-)

  • Thanks Lowcal :) I'm still working out how to cope with the transition to be honest. But I've been in the new job for 4 weeks now and my worst fears haven't happened - I haven't suddenly gained lots of weight, or stopped exercising altogether - but there's room for improvement too. Keeping things achievable is key to coping I think - I've always tried to make small, cumulative changes along the way. Also - I need to give credit to 2BFabnFit - it was her idea to have a 'maintaining range'. Anyone who naturally fluctuates, esp if on a monthly basis etc, will understand the importance of not over-reacting to losses and gains which aren't necessarily diet-related.

  • Thanks Ruth, that's all really good, useful stuff.

    I'm one stone in to a necessary two stone loss with a similar end goal - so I hope to put your advice into action in due course. I really like the "acceptable weight range" idea - I think that could work for me.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Thanks for your excellent post too. I think changing your mindset is a really important part of making the weight loss sustainable long term. Good luck for losing your final stone :)

  • Ruth,

    I hope you're still around when I eventually get to maintenance stage. You have such a level head on your shoulders and a way of explaining things in such a way that even this numpty is able to understand and relate to.

    I have lost weight on numerous occasions, that doesn't really seem to be the problem, but I have never once managed to maintain! In a year, or two's time I intend to achieve that aim for the first and last time.

    I take my hat off to you and all our other wonderful maintainers for achieving the seemingly impossible - lifetime skinniness :)

  • Or 2 months of slim-ness... Not quite skinny! And still very much work in progress. Good luck with achieving you goal and maintaining too. Maybe sooner than you think - you're making great progress, and also have a pretty level head (despite seeming evidence to the contrary :) )

  • Really interesting and inspiring post Ruth,

    Thank you for sharing your ideas and strategies with us all. Lovely to hear about your experience buying new clothes and I totally get what you're saying, I just love that I can walk into the shop knowing I will fit into smaller clothes so have a much wider choice of styles and don't have to hide myself under baggy dark coloured tops.

    Have a great week in you new job!

  • Glad you are enjoying the freedom to buy clothes for style rather than just fit now :) Although it's more enjoyable, I don't have a perfect time, being a pear-shape with a small waist - it's not always easy to find things that cater for women with hips - but at least my hips are under control now! And yes no need to hide under baggy tops etc anymore. Long may it last! Hope you have a great week too :)

  • What a great post Ruth, you are doing amazing and I am really pleased to hear that it gets easier. Those two months have really flown by and it sounds like your in a really good place. Lovin the different colour tights. I just saw a lady wearing a burgundy pair today and it looks well nice I think I may just try them out myself :-) I just bought 4 new pairs of boots, these are something that never looked right before because I had such big legs but now they look so right and I feel really good wearing them without feeling self concious so some of those burgundy or green tights would go really nice.

    It's funny when you try on old clothes like you described with the jumpers that used to sit on the hip and now there sack-like and the underwear that was once to small and now to big LOL, I love it :-) Your such a positive role model and I know you must be so proud of how far you have come Ruth.

    Well done for all you have achieved on your journey it's wonderful to read x

  • Thank you Trafford1. Your reply is so positive. Really need a hit of this positivity today and you're just the tonic. Hope your week is going really well and you tried some of those tights to go with your new boots. My legs were also big - it's where my weight tends to build up - couldn't really wear tights because of the way my legs rubbed before - wearing them now is like a constant reminder of what I've achieved :)

  • Hi Ruth what a wonderful post. Reading it made me at once very happy for you and just plain sad for the time -20 years ago- when I lost a lot of weight in my mid-30s and a post like this or a wise friend like you might have completely changed the outcomes for me.

    The clothes thing really matters. Any chance your family and friends would give you shopping vouchers or nice new bras for Christmas? I am not sure where you work but we always give every staff member a 50gbp voucher for a local department store every Christmas and if you have any influence over those decisions then.... In addition if the baking boyfriends-mum went bra shopping with you she might be a bit more tactful about the baking and develop more ways of showing the love.

    Have a good week.

  • Hi Gonti - your reply made me smile - I can be so negative sometimes - I have a reason ready why all of your suggestions wouldn't work, not necessarily the most constructive way to reply! 1. I don't celebrate Christmas and neither does my family, 2. I'm a temp at my work so not really in line for presents, 3. my boyfriend's mum is nearly 80 and not really someone I can picture shopping for bras with! - Plus I do like her cakes - if they're the only ones I eat then I think I'll be fine :) I guess we all live in slightly different worlds. But the overall suggestion - that I deserve this new stuff now - I also agree with. Building it all up myself slowly but surely :)

    Sorry you went through something similar to me in your 30s but then re-gained - I'm very much aware this could easily happen to me too. Hope it doesn't though. Hope you get your weight fully under control this time too :)

  • Sorry I am mortified about the "not celebrating christmas thing" because I thought of it the millisecond after I sent the reply off..! forgive. The basic reply was I would love you to wear lovely new stuff now while you are young and lovely and I hope somehow that this comes your way.

  • Don't be mortified! I do have to laugh at myself that I come up with so many negative responses so quickly. I always think your name sounds a bit Indian actually but I don't think this is the case? We only have a little bit of info about each other, I guess mainly gender, age, weight, sometimes not even all of those! I may not celebrate Christmas, but I do enjoy it - in fact I think it's easier to enjoy if you're not so caught up in the presents part...

    I don't think wearing lovely stuff is for while you're young. I'm 36, which I appreciate may still sound fairly young - but basically being slim is what makes me able to wear what I want now, not my age. In fact I think it's important to wear what you want anyway, whatever, weight, age, etc, our lives are for living. I made myself so miserable by setting 'rules' of what I could or couldn't wear before I lost the weight - I could have definitely found a way to dress a bit better, a bit more confidence was all that was needed :)

  • It s odd how what we do know about each other -until recently no one I knew in the real world knew my actual weight or measurements or that I was trying to tackle these or dozens of other details which I am happy to post on the site.

    Good dress style isn't so much about money or size. I had to take a bus this morning and there was some really classy looks different women had put together. A great show for 7:00am

    Gonti is the name of an imaginary friend I had when I was four.... I am English but worked in rural west Africa for twenty years hence all the postings about chilli, rice and vegetable gardening

  • Okay - that explains that! I do get that you're a gardening back to basics-y sort of person - esp your description of the community veg gardens you found when you were on holiday. I feel like I once knew someone called Gonti and they were Indian. The name has a nice sound to it and I can imagine a four year old saying it. Your bus sounds ace. I was admiring the different hi-viz outfits of other cyclists today. I feel like a proper cyclist these days, keeping up speed-wise, all my gear in place, new batteries in my lights, shining bright and speeding along :)

  • I love your posts, Ruth. You always hit the nail on the head. As you say, it's about staying in that healthy weight/size range and not allowing yourself to stray too far or too often from healthy habits. I think you've done briliiantly at adapting to the new challenges presented by your new job and commute. You're an inspiration.

  • This is such a great post to read. Sounds like you are managing to maintain no problem even though it faces its challenges!

    Emma x

  • Thanks Ruth this is really helpful. Week 5 below goal for me and I am still learning. (See weigh in post shortly! )

    I am still using mfp as i really don't get how I can still be losing and am now below the bottom of my maintenance range. Trying to eat more but keeping away from sugar except for celebrations/special events. Trying to be healthy in my choices.

  • Such a well written post Ruth. You have absolutely 'got' what life and this forum is about. The losing of the weight, however difficult a journey it was/is still to most, is actually the part we can control the easiest. The mindset is the hardest thing to harness and keep in the right way. As humans we seem to be wired mostly to criticise and destruct ourselves by default, self criticism can be a good thing in some areas of life - helping us to stay focused and strong, to achieve our potential and to live with empathy of others. This default switch sometimes goes a little awry and getting it retuned can seem an impossible feat.

    How wonderful to read these posts by folk such as yourself to verify that, yes, we can lose the weight and yes, we can maintain that loss. True, we will all still have our demons to battle, but our mindset will have shrunk these demons to more manageable 'mischievous imps'

    You have been an inspiration, still are, Ruth. Many, many congratulations on your success hunny. 😊👍👏👌🎉💥🎉

  • Such a great post. I'm about 7lbs away from goal, and I don't want to put it back on! I've learned that I just need to follow the plan to cope with any setbacks. I'm also fitting into my old clothes, it's such a great feeling. Love the coloured tights idea - I might steal that as an incentive. :-)

  • Hi Ruth,

    2 months maintaining is excellent :) I read that around a 3lb fluctuation is normal when maintaining so I think you are sensible giving yourself room to do just that without stressing about it.

    If I ever get the a weight I am happy with I think I'm gonna give myself the best part of a stone - for example as long as it starts with an 11 I'll be happy - still miles to go yet but it is good to hear how others get on who have hit their goal.

    It is interesting what you say about loose skin. I've been a bit stuck these last couple of months (seem to lose and gain the same 3lb each week - no this is not meant to be maintenance!), but one thing I have noticed is that the old bingo wings are tightening up with no exercise! So maybe this little blip has one small up side. I've asked for a kettlebell for xmas to work on those.

    Anyway, keep up the good work and stay focussed and continue to enjoy life!

    If you are any good at dress making I have lots of wide legs trousers (which are now too big :) ) that you could probably make skirts from - and I mean one skirt for every leg!


  • this is very encouraging- did you always count calories exactly at the beginning? I have a rough idea about calories and know which are healthy foods ( have switched to healthy eating cos of cardiac complaint) but am finding it hard to not overeat in the evenings

    I have just joined this forum and will do the Monday morning weigh in as think it will give me something to aim for!

  • I tried to lose weight before counting calories but didn't get far until I started the NHS 12 week plan and stuck to 1400cals/day. I wasn't obsessive about it, just entered things on myfitnesspal, developed a few regular food 'sets' that I rotated between and tried to keep an eye on the 'extras' that make you likely to go over (treats/eating out/drinks etc).

    Like you, I also had a good idea of calories beforehand, what were healthy/non-healthy foods etc. But I didn't have an exact idea, e.g. adding a tablespoon's worth of olive oil into your cooking adds 135cals, which is approx 1/3 of the recommended cals for dinner within the 1400cals daily guidelines (you may stick to a different daily calorie allowance though - it can depend on starting weight as well as gender). I also had a massive wake up call about breakfast portion sizes, the amount of cals in vegetables (esp root veg) and alcohol of course. Actually counting the calories is a real eye-opener if like me you think you've been being healthy yet gradually putting on the weight! It goes hand in hand with portion control of course too.

    Good luck with your weight loss journey and hope your healthy eating decisions help you with your cardiac complaint :)

  • Good advice thank you

    I will start counting properly- always put if off as takes time but it sounds well worthwhile and probably the only way I will get anywhere!!

    On the Monday weigh in do we give our weight or say what we have lost the previous week- or both?

  • The idea is to be accountable - give your weight and how much you lost since last week. But it's up to you what you say. Some people just say how much they lost. It's important to post if it's not a loss too though - we all have our ups and downs!

    Re counting calories - try a few different ways and see what works for you - I found planning my meals helped - if I knew my dinner was going to be 400cals then I'd know how much I had left for snacks that day, and so on. You can get myfitnesspal on your phone, old fashioned pen and paper, NHS calorie searcher, all ways of making you spend time thinking about calories instead of eating them...

  • thank you very much

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