Three Maintenance Cheers

Steve Marshall | 11 Jan, 2017

To begin, some maintainer's statistics...

Weight that I decided to maintain at: 85.0kg (13st 5)

Average weight since getting to my target: 83.0kg (13st 1)

Average weight in the last month: 82.8kg (13st 1)

Away Eating days in the last month: 12

Average daily steps in the last month: 9,785

As the last month includes Christmas and the New Year, this is not too bad at all. There has been a tiny upward trend in my weight, but it's only a slip of a few ounces, so it's not a slide yet!

I have thought a lot recently about my much-blogged personal rule - Keep it Simple. I made it a rule three years ago because I soon found that getting down to a good weight was a tough target - just on its own. I knew that if I also had a second target (for example 'eat healthily') everything would become too complicated, and I would fail with both targets. I see all the time on the forums that people are trying to lose weight, move house, give up smoking and start a new job, all at the same time. Good luck to them, and I hope they succeed in everything, but I know myself well enough to know that I would make a mess of all of it!

I have found that maintenance is a tricky business. Unlike weight loss, where I had a simple and single target of restricting calorie intake to get to a good weight, maintenance is a bit odd because the target is just 'stay the same'. I find that impossible, because weight naturally bobs up and down, and I sometimes introduce some more turbulence by eating out for days on end, etc. So my target in maintenance is 'Eat carefully, but if you haven't been very careful, restrict calories until your weight goes back to OK, but if you restrict calories too much and go below your OK weight, ease off on calories restriction until it goes up to OK again. But be careful - don't overdo it, because you don't want to be fat again!' This is not the snappy sort of target that I like, and I certainly won't be sticking it up on the fridge door! In fact I made it worse for myself by deciding to record my daily steps, so I should add ...'and walk 10,000 steps every day'.

That's complicated enough, but two things have happened recently that have given me very good reason to remember my rule of Keep it Simple:

(1) I have taken a much bigger interest in my alcohol consumption, recording my daily units, so I have to add to my maintenance target '...and don't have more than 14 units in a week'. I then thought that I was nearing target fatigue, because my weight has become more erratic than usual - I have begun to worry that I was becoming unfocussed and (to quote Wise Woman Sprog) overconfident and undercautious. On balance, though, I thought things were OK, but then...

(2) Nutracheck has added much more nutrition information to their database.Ay, caramba! This information is really interesting, but what is it telling me? I filled in my diary for a typical day, and it told me that my fat was half of the limit (and saturated fat very low), my carbs were on the limit, sugar was not far off double, protein was a bit over and salt was a bit under. The sugar was nearly all from fruit and carrots(?!), so whether that's a problem or not I don't know. To be honest, if my fat was double, carbs were zero, sugar from carrots was 450%, protein was 10% and salt was 0.3% I don't know whether that's a problem either. And I don't really have the time or inclination to educate myself to find out - probably a symptom of target fatigue! All I really took away from the analysis was that my calories were 400 under and my exercise was 700 calories, which struck me as rather good.

What am I going to do then? I think I am going to apply Keep it Simple to my maintenance. Every day, after my morning weighing, I am going to look at whether (1) my weight was the same or less than yesterday, (2) yesterday's steps were over 10,000 and (3) yesterday's alcohol units were zero. I will then play a little game of Three Maintenance Cheers - if all three are OK, I will come out of the bathroom (naked as nature intended), and give three loud cheers. Actually, I started this routine a couple of weeks ago, and my wife is delighted to observe that Three Maintenance Cheers will probably be a very rare ritual! But that's it - I will care about those three measurements, but (unless unanimous medical science insists) I will not care about anything else, because doing so would break my Keep it Simple rule.

Steve lost a massive 10st with Nutracheck. He now regularly writes about how he maintains his weight loss.