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What is Weight Loss Maintenance?

Mar 04, 2020



March is Maintenance Awareness Month!


Well, at least it is around here  :)

(I wonder what it would take to make it official—that’s going on my to-do list!)


All month we’re going to talk about the basics of Weight Loss Maintenance so we’re on the same page about what Maintenance means and how to achieve it.


Starting with the definition . . .


What is Weight Loss Maintenance?


Here’s one from the medical literature:

A person has maintained their weight loss if they have “intentionally lost at least 10% of their body weight and kept it off at least 1 year”.  


For doctors, the intentional part is key (very ill people often lose weight unintentionally) and the 10% is important because there are many significant health benefits there, including decreasing diabetes risk, protecting the heart by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and even decreasing the likelihood of some cancers.


One year means it didn’t come right back on, so some new habits must have been adopted.


This definition makes Maintenance measurable, which is the number one criterion for researchers. Can’t study it if you can’t identify or measure it.


To be sure, the definition of Maintenance needs at least 3 components:


  1. Previous weight loss
  2. Weight stability
  3. Time


Here’s my working definition of Weight Loss Maintenance: any stable weight over time that is intentionally less than a peak weight.


We can get specific about the amount of time or the acceptable range for being stable, but I’m referring to anyone who has had an issue with weight gain, did something to lose the weight and is now keeping that weight off.


They are Maintaining.


You can see that some of you qualify with that definition, even if you’re not at your ideal weight yet.


Take a moment to appreciate that you’ve kept off weight that you used to carry.



Appreciate yourself.

We can wait.


And if it was 10% of your peak body weight then go ahead and thank yourself for all the diseases you’ve kept at bay.


I find that many of us use our weight as a convenient source of self-torture. Just because we aren’t in a size 2 yet, means we don’t deserve ____________ (insert your word here: love, recognition, attention, praise, love, help, relief, happiness, love, etc.)


Maintaining weight loss at any weight is challenging. So if you’ve done it at all, you’ve accomplished something 98% of people don’t (literally, that’s a miserable statistic of people who gain their lost weight back).


It’s ok to acknowledge your success. It won’t take away from your motivation to continue to lose weight, if that’s what you’d like.


In fact, if you know there’s kindness and support coming your way as you try new things in an effort to drop pounds, you’ll be more successful.


You know what they say about honey and vinegar.