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A question for major losers who've maintained

Over the past five years I have lost 70 lbs. I'm just under the "healthy" BMI limit, but am having trouble losing the last few lbs. Even more frustrating, if I let up on the exercise or healthy eating an INCH the pounds start pouring back on. I never did extreme dieting or anything, yet my metabolism seems permanently unbalanced. Can those of you with experience tell me, realistically, am I just going to have to accept lots of exercise (an hour a day consistently, cardio and weights) and constant vigilance with food, for the rest of my life? And if so, do you have any tricks for fitting in exercise efficiently into each day?

Thu. Dec 21, 8:42am

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I would probably say since you aren't losing any more and gain if you let up at all that yes you have reached that point where based on the number of calories your eating and the amount of excercise your doing that you need to keep up that amount to stay where you at. Not a bad thing just not the best news. You could try to scale back your calories more if you really want to lose weight but otherwise just stick to what your doing as a maintenance plan.

I would look to get some sort of home excercise equipement that way you don't have to make time to drive to the gym, it's there in your house. If you have some favorite TV shows you can set it near the TV and workout for an hour a day while watching that show and the time will pass very quickly.

Thursday, December 21, 2006, 10:36 AM

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In my experience with over a hundred pounds lost for over five years, yes, you're just going to have to get used to the exercise and consistency with diet to maintain. It's not a start to finish timeline, it's a lifelong process. It's also my understanding the current recommendations on exercise are 30-60 minutes most days of the week anyways, even for "normal" people. It totally stinks, but once you get out of denial that you're going to be on the far end of the spectrum for what your body needs to stay healthy and just do it, it does get easier.

As for fitting it in, well, find things you like to do for exercise like dancing, biking, swimming, whatever makes you feel good, strong and motivated, and do those at least a couple times a week. Weights are a necessary part of the process, but they aren't much fun for most of us, nor endless treadmilling. Find your passion in exercise as well as in what you eat!

Thursday, December 21, 2006, 10:56 AM

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Sorry, but I respectfully disagree with the last two posters - I lost 90 pounds over a couple of years and have kept it off for about a year and a half. I sometimes will go weeks and weeks without exercising (I had to after I had surgery, for instance), but on a "good" week, I work out about 3 times, maybe half an hour each workout, sometimes only cardio, sometimes weights, sometimes both. I eat comfortably - yes, I am careful, but I've learned enough good habits that I don't have to obsessively count calories. I am able to maintain my weight within 5 pounds, and if I have some "bad" eating days, I just work a little harder at getting back on track and I'm fine.

Have you worked with a personal trainer? A year ago, I was maintaining my weight by myself, eating about 1200 - 1400 calories per day and working out about an hour 4 - 5 times per week. After working with a trainer for a while, I now eat between 1500 - 2000 calories per day and, like I said, working out a lot less, sometimes not at all for a while. And my body fat percentage is around 22 - 23%, which is right smack "healthy" for a woman my age. What I learned was that I needed to build enough muscle - and my trainer and I worked hard to get me to that point - and then my metabolism went up, because muscle burns more calories than fat, and I learned how to balance my diet better, with more protein, which I was not eating enough of before. Once you build that muscle, as long as you maintain a healthy diet, you won't lose it easily, so the key is just getting there. That's where a trainer can really help, because we just don't push ourselves hard enough on our own.

Please feel free to take a look at my blog; back in the archives I have a lot of number crunching and posts you might find helpful.

Kate (kissmekate02)


Thursday, December 21, 2006, 5:09 PM

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I would recommend a book that you might be interested in, it's called 'Thin for life'. Its based on interviews with a number of hundred people who have lost various amounts of weight and kept it off for anywhere from two or more years. It's written by Ann .... (I've forgotten the last name). You can get it second hand off amazon or a similar site. There is a new edition that came out in the last year or so, but they're not too different - though you can probably get the new edition second hand now anyway if you wanted to save book

The book is really helpful in terms of thinking about maintenance. The main things that I took away from reading the book is that everyones weight loss journey is different as is everyones strategies for maintaining, but that what you need to do to maintain the loss (in terms of lifestyle) is not so different from what you needed to do in order to lose the weight in the first place. Not withstanding Kates advice which also sounds sensible in terms of building up your muscle mass in order to raise your resting metabolic rate. The previous posts I think are also very helpful and quite right about this being a lifelong journey.

Thanks OP for posting your question, the threads a useful read.

Thursday, December 21, 2006, 5:48 PM

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For Kate

Did you get to your goal weight though and decide you were ready for maintenance or did you just hit a point where you cannot lose anymore weight?

To me if you hit a point where you are not losing anymore weight and if you letup you are gaining then yes you cannot slack off or you will gain.

If they hire a PT they can gain enough muscle to slack off some but no regular excercise will still need to be part of their normal routine.

Friday, December 22, 2006, 7:51 AM

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Well, I'm a <50-lb loser, so maybe not qualified to answer all of this question.

But as for the last part, about how to fit exercise efficiently into your day -- think about it the other way around. Put the exercise first, and then "fit in" the rest of the day. I find that sure, exercise takes time. But it clears my head, makes me feel good awake and alive, so that I'm much more efficient and effective with everything else I do during the day.

So many of us got to the points we are at (heavy, unhealthy) by putting other people and/or external responsibilities first. Remember to put yourself first -- if you don't take care of yourself, you will be less and less effective at taking care of anyone else.

Friday, December 22, 2006, 7:59 AM

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To the 7:51 poster

Thanks for asking - I did hit my goal weight. I started at 235 and always had 150 in mind as my "ideal" weight (I'm 5'9"). I got to 150 in the fall of 2005. That was three years since I'd peaked at 235. The lowest I've been is 145 and my "ceiling" weight is 155 - that's my red flag; if I hit 155 I know I need to buckle down. That's only happened a couple of times in the last year, and I was able to bounce right back.

I do understand your point about the difference between finding a place you choose to stay and hitting a plateau when you're not ready to be done yet. I think that if someone is being very careful about his/her diet and working out all the time and can't manage to lose or even maintain without letting up a little, he/she needs to reevaluate what's happening. And I have a strong suspicion that it may be the typical "trap" people fall into - not eating enough and working out too much, and the body actually does the opposite of what you want it to do, which is losing. Because at that point the body is burning up muscle for fuel, and that's counterproductive.

That's why I would recommend (to the OP) seeing a trainer, even just for a consultation or a few sessions - determining your resting metabolic rate and your body fat percentage would definitely be the two most important things, and at that point they, or someone knowledgeable, can guide you in making some changes to better help you. I would bet adding more protein and changing your workouts to do more strength/weight training (like me, you might think you're doing plenty with the weights on your own but find when you work out with a trainer that you really weren't getting much done, LOL).

As a side note, I do have an exercise recommendation for you - I just bought "The Biggest Loser 2" workout DVD and it is terrific! You can customize the workouts and get cardio, strength, different segments for men and women - and it is a RIGOROUS workout! I am still sore today from just a 30-minute workout I did on Wednesday.

Kate (kissmekate02)

Friday, December 22, 2006, 1:35 PM

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OP here -- thanks!

HI all, sorry for the late response (you know, holiday craziness)... Just want to say thanks for all your wise advice. Much of it jives with my previous experience (eg, the point about focusing on ourselves and making our health the priority, and also about finding something FUN), but it was all good to hear again and be reminded. I suspect for me the reality will be somewhere in the middle of the first few posters and Kate -- yes, I will just have to suck it up and keep working hard, but maybe I can work a little smarter too (ie, focus on the weight training more, I think that's a great idea). I will have to look at that Thin for Life book too. Maybe I will try a personal trainer (frankly they bug me -- seem to be all youngsters whose hips haven't come in yet, what do they know?) but I could try to be more open-minded... :) Thanks all!

Friday, December 29, 2006, 11:15 AM

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