Weight Maintenance

Keep It Off!

Congratulations! You have achieved your weight goal. Now what? Since many studies show that people tend to regain weight over time, it is important to have a plan for weight maintenance. Long term weight management means a lifelong commitment to eating well and regular physical activity.

The good news is that MyNetDiary can help you sustain lifelong weight maintenance. Just like weight loss, weight maintenance is all about the calories. To maintain your weight, you need to balance calories intake with calories output. Sounds easy, right? What is not so easy is the continued commitment to monitor your behavior so that you can take steps to correct minor changes in body weight before it snowballs into major weight regain.

How Do I Use MyNetDiary for Weight Maintenance?

If you have been using MyNetDiary, then you are already know that the Weight Maintenance Calories https://www.mynetdiary.com/faq.do#collapse_328 is the number of calories needed to maintain your weight, given the age, weight, height, sex, and activity level you specified in “Account.” In “Plan,” Weight Maintenance Calories for calories is updated every time you update your body weight. If you gain weight, then the calories needed to maintain that higher weight will increase slightly, whereas if you lose weight, the calories needed to maintain that lower weight will decrease slightly. Be sure to read my article, “Customizing Your Calorie Goals” http://www.mynetdiary.com/planning_weight_and_calories.html so that you understand how the Weight Maintenance Calories is calculated. It is important to get an accurate estimation of calories needed for weight maintenance.

Review the basics of energy balance:

Calories IN − Calories OUT = Calories NET

Calories IN Calories OUT Calories NET
Caloric cost of basal metabolism,
digesting/processing food,
and physical activity
Negative NET = deficit = weight loss
Positive NET = surplus = weight gain
Zero NET = balance = weight maintenance

1 lb of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories. Over time, net calories will determine whether or not you lose, gain, or maintain your weight. It is very much like money in a checking account.

  • If you consume (Calories IN) fewer calories than you burn (Calories OUT), then Calories NET will be negative and you will lose weight. That is, a calorie deficit results in weight loss.
  • If you consume (Calories IN) more calories than you burn (Calories OUT), then Calories NET will be positive and you will gain weight. That is, a calorie surplus results in weight gain.
  • If you consume (Calories IN) the same amount of calories that you burn (Calories OUT), then Calories NET will be zero and you will maintain your weight. That is, calorie balance means weight maintenance.

Do I have to Match Calories Intake with Output Every Day?

No, not necessarily. Recall that it takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound of body weight or a surplus of 3500 calories to gain one pound of body weight. It is average intake and output over time that affects body weight. Daily goals are useful because it helps us stay on track — did we have a calories surplus, deficit, or balance today? If I typically create a large calories surplus on Wednesdays due to a weekly pub get together, then I can simply plan to have a calories deficit the day before or the day after so that my average intake meets and not exceeds my average output. I create that calories deficit by either eating fewer calories and/or burning more calories through exercise.

How Often Do I have to Record Now?

I strongly recommend that you continue to monitor your calories intake and output daily (or use the same number of days per week that recorded during weight loss). If you make a commitment to monitor weight maintenance as diligently as you planned for weight loss, then you are likely to keep the weight off permanently. Think of calories monitoring as a habit — similar to how you have made time for brushing your teeth, showering, shaving, and dressing. It is that important!

If you find that you are having difficulty finding the time to monitor your intake and output, consider that a red flag for weight regain. I don’ t mean to be depressing or pessimistic, but if you don’ t take the time to monitor your calories intake and output, then you are likely to gradually drift into calories surplus and regain weight.

Physical Activity

It is likely that you will need about 60 minutes of daily moderate activity to maintain your weight loss. Letting go of regular physical activity is a key problem with weight regain — so don’ t let it happen! The time you spend being physically active is worth it. Not only is it important to burn calories (and therefore, help you maintain your hard won weight loss), but it is also important for controlling blood pressure, blood glucose, stress, and to support bone and muscle strength. Please read my article on physical activity for more information on the benefits of physical activity: Physical Activity — It’s All About Moving!

Weekly Weigh-In

Weigh yourself weekly to avoid creeping weight gain. I do not recommend weighing yourself less frequently since you will want to detect change in weight earlier rather than later, and do something about it as it occurs. If you prefer to weigh yourself more frequently, then do so.

Problem Solving — Why Am I Regaining Weight?

If you find yourself gaining weight, then review your MyNetDiary charts and reports to determine if your average calories intake has shifted upwards and/or if your average calories burned has shifted downwards. If it has, then it is time to identify why the change has occurred. Sometimes this shift has occurred, but the records do not reveal it. In my experience, this happens when people start under-reporting actual intake, do not record consistently (so averages are only showing good days), and/or they simply stop monitoring all together.

Changes to the following are often linked with challenges to weight control:

Work Schedule. This is a huge culprit in reducing calories burned and increasing calories intake. We start a job with a long commute and work hours and find ourselves with no time to exercise or make healthful meals. A major change in your work schedule will force you to rethink or adjust your plan for exercise and healthful meals. Do what it takes to insure that you have time for both. Consider taking five extra minutes to stair climb before and after your work day, in addition to walking during lunch (yes, take a break for lunch no matter how busy you are). As well, it is important to plan for healthful meals despite a busy schedule. Can you make time to bring healthful meals and snacks to work so you are not dependent on higher calorie vending and dining options? Do you know where you can find healthier fast food options near where you work? Can you cook and freeze over the weekend for healthful fast dinner options during the weekdays? If you do not plan to handle a major work schedule change, then I can almost guarantee that you will regain weight.

Travel. This is another change that results in a double whammy — increased food and beverage calories with a decrease in exercise. If you find yourself traveling more often now, then plan for how you can stay in energy balance. Walk the airports to burn calories. Request that you stay in a hotel with a gym, pool, or at the very least, a stairwell. Search the restaurants in the area in which you will be staying so that you can eat at those with healthier food options. Avoid or limit consumption of sweetened beverages and alcoholic drinks. Skip the bread, chips, and desserts. Avoid appetizers unless they include vegetables or fruits without fatty sauces. Order a salad and/or at least two non-starchy vegetables with your entrée (and ask for dressing on the side or use low fat dressing).

Illness or Injury. If you find yourself unable to eat or exercise according to your typical pattern, and you expect this change to last for an extended time period, then you need a plan to maintain your weight. Physical therapists are highly skilled at helping patients remain active in almost any state of mobility — take advantage of their services if you have the health insurance or means to do so. For situations where you cannot chew or swallow properly, then seek the services of a speech therapist and dietitian. For all other newly diagnosed food and digestion related diseases, please consider seeking individualized care with a dietitian.

If you have recently been put on a medication that you suspect is causing weight gain, then please talk with your physician about your concerns rather than simply stopping the medication.

Caretaking. Whether it is taking care of your newborn or starting to care for an elderly parent, it is important to remember that to be a good caretaker, if you have to also take care of yourself. You will have to plan time for yourself, otherwise, you will not have it. Create a support system for yourself — which friends and family members can you count on to help you? Also find out about community-based support for taking care of the elderly (i.e. contact your local senior center). The more you plan for help and support, the more time you will create for yourself and maintaining your health.

Stress Management. Managing stress so that you don’ t shift back into old coping strategies is critical to maintaining your weight. If you find yourself in a chronically stressful situation, be proactive and get help. Don’ t wait until you have regained all your weight back! I’ m a big supporter of counseling and therapy, especially during stressful periods in life. Make the time and find the resources to get the help that you need before you feel like you are drowning.

National Weight Control Registry

We all want to know how successful people tick. What do they do to be successful? If you are curious about how other people have successfully kept their weight off, visit the “National Weight Control Registry.” http://www.nwcr.ws/Research/default.htm Anyone who has lost 30 lbs or more and has kept the weight off for at least one year is eligible to become a registered member of this site. Members report how they lost weight as well as how they continue to keep the weight off. Here is a summary of what they report:

  • They maintain a lower calorie intake, lower fat intake
  • 90% exercise, on average, about 1-hour per day, with walking being most common
  • 78% eat breakfast
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week

American Dietetic Association

If you would like to read more about weight control guidelines and the research supporting those guidelines, then please see, “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Weight Control.” http://www.eatright.org/ada/files/wmnp.pdf

Concluding Remarks

Congratulate yourself on having met your weight loss goal! Hopefully, you have shifted your thinking so that healthful diet and exercise is no longer perceived as optional, but instead, as high priority activities that are ingrained in your daily routine. As well, I hope that you consider your health as important as the health of those you love and care for, so that you can continue to be there for them and for yourself! Cheers to your health!

Good luck. Please remember that you can ask questions about this topic in Community Forum.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDE
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

This article can be found at http://www.mynetdiary.com/weight-maintenance-with-food-diary.html