Getting back to the original question, which is harder weight-loss or weight-maintenance; I really think they are both difficult in their own right. Weight-loss is difficult because it is a commitment to a change. It requires breaking old habits and adopting new ones. Some of the old habits may be more difficult to break than we really think. Weight-loss also involves lots of self-realization that can be down right painful. There are also plenty of setbacks and challenges to overcome while on your weight-loss journey. But, the great thing about weight-loss is that you get to see validation for your efforts in the form of a lower number on the scale, clothing fitting better or dropping sizes, increased level of activity, and improved health. This validation is positive reinforcement and drives you to continue.
Weight-maintenance is difficult because nothing is really "physically" changing. You have gotten to the point where your weight has stabilized and you are maintaining the loss that you have achieved. The compliments start to fade and people start to get used to you being the "Skinny Chick." And then, heaven forbid, people start to treat you like you've always been skinny. They may say things like, "You don't look like you would ever need Weight Watchers" or "Do people actually take you seriously when you say that you lost weight on Weight Watchers?" Not to mention the fact that you look at yourself in the mirror and you still see the "old" you. You also have the people around you who know that you have reached your goal and they ask you, "So now can you go back to eating regularly again?"
There is so much emphasis placed on weight-loss and the emotions surrounding it. Not to many people actually talk about the emotions around weight-maintenance and how to deal with those. It is so tempting to think, "Well, I'm at my goal now...I can splurge on this or that. One more piece of pizza won't make that much difference." The truth is, just like we had to commit to a change to lose weight, we have to commit to a lifestyle of maintaining our weight-loss. It begins with the realization that what ever it was that we did to lose weight, we must do the same thing to maintain the loss. If we go back to our "old ways," we will go back to looking like our "old" self. Here are some tips that have really helped me stay focused while maintaining my weight-loss:
1. Create a new goal each week to focus on. This can be anything from a specific activity goal or something food related like increasing your amount of protein or vegetables.
2. Track what you eat ALL the time! Tracking is what got me here. Tracking is what's going to keep me here.
3. Continue to attend your weekly Weight Watchers meeting. The meetings offer support and accountability for Lifetime members as well. You can also weigh-in every week if you like, even though you are only required to weigh once a month.
Here are some other tips I found in the March/April issue of Weight Watchers magazine:
4 Maintenance Musts
Here are the top 4 secrets of more than 10,000 successful dieters:
90% Exercise, on average, 1 hour per day
78% Eat breakfast every day
75% Weigh themselves at least once a week
62% Watch less than 10 hours of TV a week
Source: The National Weight Control Registry's ongoing study of adults who lost more than 30 pounds and have kept that weight off for at least a year.