So… What Now?

While I think the eye roll that I’m met with every time I say “Weight Watchers is a lifestyle change, not a diet” may be well deserved because of the sheer number of times that everyone has heard it, I do think that statement is extremely valid. During the two years, two months, and nine days (but who’s counting?) that I followed Weight Watchers to LOSE weight, I’ve ingrained so many healthy lifestyle changes and have totally transformed the way that I live my life.

If I’m being honest, transitioning into maintenance mode is quite scary for me, almost more so than losing the weight. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted the number on the scale to go down when I stepped on it, so there is a certain comfort and familiarity with being in weight loss mode. Looking for the scale to stay the same when I step on it is something that is going to take me a while to adjust to because it is so new.

223-weight-loss-cartoon

So… how will things change now that I’m moving into maintenance mode?

Despite the excited twinkle in Wil’s eye when I told him I get to eat a bit more now, the truth is that not much will change. I’m going to continue to work out 3-5x a week and eat mostly the same things, just with a few more indulgences here and there, but more on that later.

For those of you unfamiliar with Weight Watchers, this is the way maintenance works. Once you hit your goal weight, you are given 6 more points a day for the first week, so 35 total for me. After the first week when you weigh in, here’s what happens:

  • If your weight stays the same, you stick with 35 pts a day.
  • If you gain weight, you reduce to 32 pts a day.
  • If you lose more, you up your target to 38 pts a day.

After making the necessary adjustments and maintaining for 6 weeks within 2 lbs of your goal weight, you become Lifetime, which means you only have to weigh in once a month, rather than each week. This means I have to stay between 162 and 166 (since my goal is 164) for those 6 weeks. If I want to lose more after I become Lifetime, I can do that, but for now, my goal is to stay within those parameters.

First impressions…

I’ve only been in maintenance mode for less than a week so this may be premature, but I have to say that so far I’m really loving it. The 35 points a day feels like a lot and makes me feel a sense of freedom with eating. Since I’m mostly eating the same things, I’m just making small swaps and additions to account for those extra points.

For example, Sunday night I made a huge version of the Mexican Casserole with 33 points total. Instead of dividing it into 6 (still good sized) servings with 6 pts each, I divided it into 4 servings with 8 pts each. I’ve also been eating regular peanut butter or almond butter instead of peanut flour mixed with water, have been using half and half in my coffee instead of skim milk, and have been using olive oil a bit more liberally than I have in the past. These small indulgences and additions are how I want to proceed with maintenance, because it’s still within the framework of what I know and what works for me, but just with a bit more flexibility.

I’m continuing to weigh/measure my food when I can, and I’ve been eating the full 35 pts each day, so we’ll see what the scale says when I weigh in on Thursday. I’ve weighed myself on my at home scale and the numbers are staying about the same – yesterday morning it was 164.2, which is up a bit from Thursday’s weigh in but that’s OK because it’s still in the range.

I love how the WW maintenance system is designed because it doesn’t feel too different than the regular system. I don’t feel like I’ve worked to get to a goal and now I’m on my own without a plan or any guidance. That said, I do hope that one day I’ll be able to just listen to my body and stay at a healthy weight. However, I know myself and today is not that day.

I’m curious about your thoughts on tracking points/calories to maintain your weight v. intuitively eating. For those of you already in maintenance mode or who haven’t needed to lose weight, do you have any thoughts or tips on weight maintenance and what your strategy is? If you’re not yet at goal, do you see yourself struggling with this transition?

36 Comments on So… What Now?

  1. Victoria (District Chocoholic)
    May 17, 2011 at 8:37 am (6 years ago)

    I guess I am in semi-maintenance mode and have been for a while (every so often, an extra 3-4 lbs creeps up on me and I get a little more careful with what I am eating to get back down to where I feel best). In some ways, it is harder than trying to lose weight because it’s just staying rather than striving for a goal. It helps to have non-weight-loss goals that keep you on track, like getting x servings of veggies per day.

    The other thing that is difficult about maintaining is social pressure. People will tell you that you can indulge, don’t need to worry about your weight, etc. because they don’t see that you still need to be diligent to maintain your weight. It’s very obnoxious.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 17, 2011 at 10:03 am (6 years ago)

      I think that’s a great point about setting non weight related goals as part of maintenance!

      Reply
      • sara
        May 18, 2011 at 1:14 am (6 years ago)

        Hi guys, ive just lost 29 kilos and hit my final goal 2 weeks ago and now all i can think of is food. food food food and all my friends and family are telling me that i look skinny and dont have to worry about indulging and i feel like im going to spiral out of control! how do u deal with it??? i try to eat mainly a wholefoods diet but when i hit goal i let me sugar guard down and its like a monster has been unleashes..HELP!

        CONGRATULATIONS to both of u for reaching goal weight:)

        Reply
  2. goodtastehealthyme
    May 17, 2011 at 8:41 am (6 years ago)

    I mostly eat intuitively now. When I was trying to lose weight I counted calories which was very effective and helped me lose approximately 25 pounds. Now I just practice good portion control, work out 4 days a week and treat myself with something small each day. It’s been working for me so far! 😀

    Congrats again btw. I know, as I’m sure others so, what it felt like to reach goal weight. It was amazing!

    Reply
  3. Holly @ The Runny Egg
    May 17, 2011 at 8:44 am (6 years ago)

    When I still used WW I really struggled with maintenance — it took me 8 weeks to get to Lifetime and I think I just barely made it! After a year of following WW maintenance plans, I decided to try to throw it out the window and eat intuitively. It hasn’t always been good times, but it is working for me since my weight has stayed in the range that I am comfortable with. But at first I gained a few lbs but then slowly lost those. I feel like I’m still figuring everything out to be honest!

    Reply
  4. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    May 17, 2011 at 9:06 am (6 years ago)

    I think the thing I like most about their program is that they stick with you after the fact. It’s great there’s still support there during one of the more difficult parts of the process!

    Reply
  5. Leah (The Kind Weight Watcher)
    May 17, 2011 at 9:32 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing this with us! I’m always wondering what it’s like to be in maintenance mode.

    While I do still dream of some day eating intuitively, for now I’ve realized that is not realistic for me. I need to track, even to maintain, for a long time.

    However, I’m on the Simply Filling Technique of WW, which is intuitive eating to a point. I’ve heard that on the SFT when I get to maintenance, my WP will go from 49 to 90, which sounds like a LOT of food! Looking forward to seeing how it works, but it also scares me.

    I’m so used to wanted a smaller number on the scale, and I’m not sure how I’ll feel staying on track through the week when there is no possibility of a smaller number for motivation. Will maintaining my new weight be motivation enough? I hope so.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 17, 2011 at 9:42 am (6 years ago)

      You know I was temped to switch to simply filling when i saw my WP’s would go up to 90! ha.

      Reply
  6. Katie Photiadis
    May 17, 2011 at 9:39 am (6 years ago)

    Beth, just a thought–last summer and last fall, before you re-joined WW–you seemed to be doing pretty well with maintenance. If you re-read some of your old posts, you might find ideas for how to live on maintenance again…

    Congrats again on hitting goal! You should be so proud of yourself!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 17, 2011 at 9:41 am (6 years ago)

      Wellllllllll…. when I stepped up on the scale in December 2010 I was up to 181.6…. I think i THOUGHT I was better at maintenance than I was.

      Reply
      • Noreen
        December 27, 2015 at 11:48 am (2 years ago)

        What happens if you gain more than 2 pounds when you are lifetime?

        Reply
  7. rachel
    May 17, 2011 at 10:17 am (6 years ago)

    having still a lot to go in my journey, i’m still struggling with the normal day to day gauging. i just feel so often, i have no idea what to count something as when eating outside my house. take pho for example. i love pho. i feel like the only way i’m ever going to figure out how to count it is to order it to-go, and deconstruct and weight the entire thing at home.

    you’re an example that if you keep honing in on your technique and life style, you can accomplish your goals!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 17, 2011 at 10:24 am (6 years ago)

      I struggle with that, too, Rachel. When I eat out of the house, especially if its something unhealthy like nachos (which I LOVE) i have NO idea how to count it. For Pho, I try to guess about how many cups of noodles are in there (usually 1-2), count the broth as zero, and then figure out how much beef. I think as long as you are trying to guess honestly, it’s ok!

      Reply
  8. Theodora
    May 17, 2011 at 10:19 am (6 years ago)

    Maintenance IS really scary at first. I handle it by basically eating the same but being less hard on myself if I eat something unhealthy once in a while.

    Also…don’t worry…marathon training may throw you right back into weight loss mode afterward!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 17, 2011 at 10:20 am (6 years ago)

      Ahh I know! I’m pretty glad I hit goal before I start with marathon training so I can make Lifetime before I start… I’ll still have to weigh in within 2 lbs of my goal between now and then, but it takes some of the pressure off!

      Reply
  9. Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com
    May 17, 2011 at 10:39 am (6 years ago)

    Beth, this in depth look at weight watchers and what you’ve changed in your life permanently is just beautiful. I absolutely support any effort to get healthy, and while some find calorie/point counting to be too rigid and perhaps obsessive, I found it absolutely was the best for me. Being so big for so long, I had to actually learn what food was, in its breakdown of nutrients and density, how much a serving size was, etc. In a way, it set me free.

    I think intuitive eating is absolutely fabulous, but I don’t know that I would have been able to do that first, before starting with the knowledge of what to eat and what it meant to my body.

    Great great post!

    Reply
  10. beyondbananas
    May 17, 2011 at 11:06 am (6 years ago)

    I usually eat when I am hungry. I come to work with a massive amount of fruits and veggies to snack on every day. I don’t count calories or track points – but it was never something I did to begin with. I concetrate on listening to my body – and fueling it with natural energy.

    Reply
  11. Andrea @ Vegvacious
    May 17, 2011 at 11:06 am (6 years ago)

    I’m so glad you found WW so successful! I’ve tried several diets and I totally agree that WW is a lifestyle change (I had a lot of success with it too!). I like to do an 80/20 split – eat healthfully and keep on track 80% of the time and indulge within reason 20% of the time.

    Reply
  12. tricia
    May 17, 2011 at 11:44 am (6 years ago)

    Popping in a little late-congrats on hitting your goal!

    Reply
  13. Roz
    May 17, 2011 at 11:54 am (6 years ago)

    I’m still in losing mode, and can’t wait for the days of maintenance. Weight watchers is the BEST, it isn’t a short term fix, it’s a forever lifestyle! Have a great day Beth.

    Reply
  14. Beth
    May 17, 2011 at 11:55 am (6 years ago)

    I can see how that would be a difficult transition, but the WW system seems to have a great approach! It is a lifestyle, not a diet, so you really can’t start to eat ice cream with every meal and expect the weight to stay off. You have done so well, though, that I’m sure you’ll keep up the good work!

    I try to eat intuitively, but as a cyclical athlete its hard. When I’m at peak training I can eat 3000-4000 calories a day, easy, and not gain weight. But when I stop training, I have to un-do my eating habits. I’m not hungry for 3 breakfasts anymore, but I see 10 am and think I sould be eating again. Its a struggle, but I manage it decently, I think. I hope…

    Reply
  15. Jess
    May 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm (6 years ago)

    Beth – Congratulations on hitting your goal! You should be so, so proud of yourself!

    How tall are you?

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm (6 years ago)

      Hey Jessica! Thanks! =) I’m 5’8, but some may argue and say 5’7.5…

      Reply
  16. Kathleen
    May 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm (6 years ago)

    It really sounds like you have a great plan and I love how you are incorporating small, but healthy, changes into your daily points for maintenance. Congrats again!

    I had my 6 weeks of WW maintenance during my wedding to make lifetime. I ended up pulling it off and was able to maintain within 2 lbs. for over a year. Then I got cocky, then I stopped counting points and going to WW meetings – then I gained so much weight I was too embarrassed to go back to my normal meeting…then I switched to online and then I just decided to go at it alone without the scale and point counting pressure. I got too obsessed and crazy about hitting the right range and feeling like a failure that I couldn’t get there. I’m finally back on track and headed towards my goal weight. I know this is going to sound crazy, but I think I needed to screw up to take me off my WW success pedestal. I have a much healthier relationship with food and exercise now and lean more towards intuitive eating.

    Reply
  17. cindylu
    May 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm (6 years ago)

    I stopped tracking my points about 5-6 months before I hit goal and never tracked them during maintenance. I basically ate intuitively for that period. It worked. A couple of months later, I’d gained 2 lbs and my weight hasn’t been within two pounds of my goal weight for a while. I think I took the indulgences a little too liberally, but I’m pretty okay with where I’m at now.

    Reply
  18. Lisa
    May 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm (6 years ago)

    Haha! The EYE ROLL. Oh I know it well. I get the same eye roll/eyes glaze over when people hear how I lost my weight. They don’t want to hear about “lifestyle changes”. They want a quick fix, a magic pill, etc. I got used to people growing bored with my story when they realized I didn’t have a quick fix for them. Which is disappointing….

    Reply
  19. Jill
    May 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm (6 years ago)

    For me it is ALL about intuitive eating. Every day–really listening to your body. Am I hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Cranky? What is it I need. If food is the answer then eat–something that will fuel my body so I can run fast 😛
    Also, drink lots of water and eat slow–Vive la slow food revolution.

    Reply
  20. Kelly Kokoska
    May 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm (6 years ago)

    I think maintenance is actually harder than the losing mode. I have been at my goal weight for over two years and I still get nervous every week I weigh in. I still weigh in weekly just to monitor my self. I just recently switched to Simply filling instead of tracking all my food, I just keep track of my non power foods. I have done this long enough now to know the general volumn of food I eat daily and am able to listen to those feelings of hunger. WW is something I need to do forever, it was the only way for me to keep my weight where I want it. Best of luck, keep us posted on how you do. Losing or maintaining your weight in public is even harder…congratulations.

    Reply
  21. Lisa (bakebikeblog)
    May 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm (6 years ago)

    I think it will be a re-adjustment phase – but you will find what works for you – I just know it 🙂

    Reply
  22. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean
    May 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm (6 years ago)

    glad you’re enjoying your freedom. i’m not that familiar with ww so it was really interesting to read about their system!

    Reply
  23. Emily
    May 18, 2011 at 11:08 am (6 years ago)

    I definitely “fear” maintenance when I reach my goal. This week, I fell off the points bandwagon a bit and didn’t track as closely as I should have and it shows on the scale. I think the important thing about weight watchers is continuing to weigh in so for maybe those weeks where you gain, it gives you a reality check that you need to still pay attention to what you’re eating and just track it to keep you aware of how much or little you have had. I love that cartoon!

    I have serious trouble with eating intuitively. I can hear when my body say something isn’t the best choice, but that doesn’t mean that my brain is going to agree with that assessment. What has been most important for me is the tracking, it really keeps my portions in check and allows me to eat pretty much what I want as long as I count it. I sometimes wonder if I could do this forever, but I really think I can because it makes me happy and it has helped me put my life back togetherr.

    Reply
  24. Christine
    May 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm (6 years ago)

    My heaviest was 162 lbs in 2004. After loads of thyroid issues, heart meds and a long term hormone regimen, I decided to make a change. I lost some weight that year, but school, work and study abroad always seemed to take priority over my health. In 2006 I lost over 35 lbs to a weight of 125 lbs primarily by counting calories, steady exercise and hanging with like-minded friends. Today I weigh 133 and although i know i can be better, I dont have the time or energy to count calories anymore. I maintain by putting running and the gym into my schedule a few times a week, packing healthy breakfast and lunch, cooking dinner at home and splurging once a week or so with friends. I usually don’t allow myself to fluctuate more than 5 lbs. The funny thing is, I don’t use a scale anymore. If the suit fits and still looks good, that’s good enough for me. It gets to feel normal.. I promise you!

    Reply
  25. Coco
    May 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm (6 years ago)

    I approached maintenance similar to you – keeping up my exercise routine and mostly the same but with a few more indulgences. I continued to count calories for a LONG time, and only moved away from that gradually as I learned to trust my hunger and eat more intuitively. I still tend to plan 400 calorie breakfasts and lunches.

    I replaced weight loss goals with fitness goals and started running. It helped to have something healthy to focus on and a different reason not to go overboard at happy hour.

    I’m reading this post late, and it sounds like you are still doing well with maintenance.

    Reply
  26. Jill O.
    June 24, 2013 at 1:01 am (4 years ago)

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I just reached goal today (80.4 lbs in the past 14 months. I’m very excited, but it’s a little overwhelming too!

    My WW leader is having me add 2 points per day extra this week to my 26 daily points, & she said we’ll adjust it up to 6 as the following weeks get here.

    My brain still feels firmly stuck in a weight loss mentality, but my 1st week of maintenance starts tomorrow morning. Glad the maintenance period is 6 weeks long 🙂

    Reply
  27. Liz
    August 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi! This is my first day on maintenance. Your post was helpful and encouraging. Thanks!:)

    Reply

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