One morning, at the start of April 2015, I weighed in at 13st 5. That meant that I had lost exactly 10 stone with Nutracheck, and that my BMI was 25. My wife and I decided that that was a good weight for me, so from that day my maintenance journey began, and today is my third maintenance anniversary!
Many people who have arrived at target weight, and then set off into maintenance, will tell you that losing weight is the easy bit – it's keeping it off that's hard. And that is roughly my experience. It's certainly true that I have had to keep focussed on what I eat and drink, and what I weigh, because I am perfectly capable of gaining quite a few pounds if I let things slip a little – and I then have to make adjustments to stop that slip becoming a slide.
But it's basically good news. There have been a lot of slightly worrying ups and slightly relieved downs, but over those three years of maintenance I have lost nearly another stone. Now that really is enough weight loss!
What I thought I would do here is to cast my mind back to a blog I wrote more or less when I started to maintain. It was about my dieting 'secrets'. I said that probably everybody who has lost a lot of weight is asked "what's your secret?", so I listed my top ten. I was very keen to point out (and I still am) that we all have different bodies, and we all have different attitudes to things, so I was not saying that these 'secrets' would work for anyone else, but they worked for me. I wrote a blog after a year on my maintenance journey, to see whether the secrets were still working. But let's look at them again – three years after my maintenance journey started.
How are my original dieting 'secrets' looking after three years of maintenance?
- I had a lot to lose, so my first 'secret' was to use Nutracheck to help me change my eating habits forever. I wanted to become a calorie expert, so I did the cooking, and I weighed and recorded absolutely everything. This is still working for me – I learned good habits, and I learned roughly how many calories are in what, and I think that gives me enough control so that I no longer need to complete my food diary.
- I realised that as my body aged, I would need fewer and fewer calories, so I figured out the ways I was going to keep eating slightly fewer calories and doing slightly more exercise every year. I think I took that on board pretty well – I reckon that my daily calories keep reducing a little, and that's important because my exercise is still OK, but has fallen slightly.
- I have a big appetite and I hate being hungry, so I changed my eating habits so that I was eating a lot of filling low-calorie food. This is still working, and working very well. If anything I have discovered more and more filling and delicious low-calorie foods, and I enjoy my new way of eating very much.
- I learned about weight loss from scientific sources, so that I knew what was the truth and what was a myth. I still take a big interest in the science of weight loss. I have also learned an awful lot about the subject from fellow Nutracheck member Sprog, who has been a huge help to me on my maintenance journey. Thanks Sprog!
- I didn't confuse healthy eating with eating to lose weight. When I was losing weight, I was completely focussed on losing weight, not on nutrition. This is still largely true. But I do occasionally need to increase my weight slightly, so I try to do that with things such as salmon and nuts, rather than pie and chips!
- I did not allow myself to switch my new eating habits back to my old eating habits because of unexpected weight gain, getting fed up, going on holiday, or for any other reason. This is still how I do it. In fact my new eating habits are now so much a part of my life, that it's difficult to imagine going back to old eating habits (even on holiday).
- More and more I changed my idea of what was a 'treat', so most 'treats' tended to be expensive to buy or difficult to prepare – rather than high in calories. I didn't think I was having a treat if it was something with a lot of fat and sugar in it, where it would take me a couple of days to lose the weight I had just gained from eating it. This is still true. When I started my diet, I stopped rewarding myself with food, and I still don't. Very occasionally, when I feel I can afford the calories, and when I just fancy it, I have something like fish and chips. But that's not a reward for being a 'good boy' – it's just because I know I can fit it into my lifestyle.
- I was nearly always able to refuse food, even where it was socially a bit awkward to do that. I was focussed on me and my weight. Yes. I have now become totally comfortable with turning down things that I don't want to eat.
- I did not let people put me off. Some people were telling me that I had lost enough, I should stop losing weight, I would end up anorexic, I mustn't be eating properly etc, etc. I didn't take any notice of any of it. This has changed a little, since I lost that 'extra' stone. Although my BMI is now a perfectly reasonable 23, I do look rather scrawny, and my wife does 'keep me in line' so that I don't lose any more weight. She does it very nicely of course!
- Three years ago I said that my final secret was that I was married to the most supportive and lovely person in the world, and none of this would have been possible without her help. That's all still true! It may be even more important in maintenance, because – for example – that lovely person accepts that our calorie-conscious way of eating will never stop.
There is one other thing that I've only realised is extremely important to me since I have been maintaining...
- I need to exercise constant vigilance. For me, there's a fine line between maintaining and beginning to see my weight drifting up again, and the second one is not an option! So, to keep the right side of that fine line, I need constant vigilance – watching what I eat and drink, exercising a fair amount and weighing myself every single day.
You might think all of this looks a bit severe. But you often hear that what is needed is a 'lifestyle change', and that's what I have managed to achieve. It probably would not suit everyone, but we are all different, and we all have to find what works for us. My new lifestyle suits me down to the ground, and it isn't at all a burden for me – I thoroughly enjoy it!
Steve lost a massive 10st with Nutracheck. He now regularly writes about how he maintains his weight loss.