Maintenance is when you have moved from a negative or surplus calorie zone into a neutral zone. In other words, you aren’t gaining or losing on any large or noticeable scale—you are at maintenance. Technically it isn’t possible to always land at “zero” on the surplus/deficit scale. Still, no noticeable budge in either direction within a few weeks span of time is a good indication that you are in maintenance.
The last sentence above is extremely important because there are a lot of people who feel they are working very hard toward their goal (fat loss or muscle gain) but are not seeing any change. For whatever reason (be it errors in measuring expenditure/intake or metabolic adaptation), this means you are in maintenance. This means you can’t rationalize your efforts or lie to yourself about your results. This is one of the most important things you need to understand about your body composition; knowing this can save you a lot of heartache.
You Are Either In or You Are Out
I say this all the time to my clients, members, and friends: don’t f**k around. You are either in maintenance or you aren’t. Playing these games with yourself can only lead to feeling like you live a life of dieting frustration. All you are doing is lying to yourself while doing harm to your body and mind.
If you really have been “dieting” down the whole time, all you have done is cause a metabolic adaptation. You are just avoiding the inevitable refeed that needs to take place. If you think you are dieting down, you are just making it harder on yourself and creating a mental frustration that will leave you jaded. The same is true for gaining muscle mass.
Don’t Create Negative Cognitive Patterns
When you constantly tell yourself you are working toward a goal and you continuously “fail” at that goal, you create a negative cognitive pattern. You are telling yourself, over and over again, “I can’t do this.” You are telling yourself, “I fail at this.” And the more you do this—the more you “try” and fail—the harder you make it on yourself. The mind believes very clearly when it can’t do something, no matter how it started believing it.
Think of when you tried to achieve a physical feat and failed. Take a simple game of Red Rover. The rules of the game are simple. A line of people with their arms connected are standing in front of you, and your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to run as hard as you can to where you perceive the weakest link to be and bust through. “Red Rover, Red Rover, send YOU on over!” Like a bolting car you run with all of your might toward the arms of your competition. You reach your destination only to be slammed to the ground in defeat by two tightly joined arms.
How do you react the next time you play and attempt to break through? How do you feel now that you have landed flat on your back on the ground in vicious defeat? You will be more cautious and trust yourself less. You may hesitate by running with less speed. You may believe, because you failed to break through one set of arms, you will fail to do so again. Some people will rise to the challenge and others will quit the game. Be it Red Rover or a diet, the more it doesn’t work for you, the more you are trained to believe it will never work.
Retraining the Bad Pattern
Chances are you have already created negative patterns in your mind. Chances are you already may not believe in yourself or in the fact that dieting can work. Don’t worry, there is still plenty of time to retrain these patterns and the course of your thought processes. To help, I have provided these simple steps to follow in order to achieve your goal.
Step 1 – Face the Harsh Truth
I don’t care if you write a letter, leave a comment, start a log in the forums, call your mother, or shout it in the middle of the street. You need to be honest about everything—lies you tell yourself, your victories (small or large), and your justifying. Live in the reality of what you have created for yourself. No shame, no drama…just honesty.
Step 2 – Wipe the Slate Clean
Once you understand your past—leave it there. What is done is done. You need to wipe the slate clean and give yourself a ticket to ride toward a new life.
Step 3 – Set Up a Program for Yourself
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even have to be new. What it does need to be is realistic. Take into account the intensity of your goal and what you feel best serves your outlook. If you need pre-made programs, check out The Fat Loss Troubleshoot or the members of the Lean Being Programs.
Step 4 – Accept That Results Will Happen When You Do the Right Things
I’ll leave it at that.
Step 5 – Constantly Set New Goals
One goal doesn’t help solve anything because achieving your goal means ending your motivation. What is the point of living in this world if not to work toward something or to create better (whatever that means to you). Constantly set and challenge yourself to new goals, be it in weight or the game of life.
Step 6 – Accept Maintenance for What It Is
No one is perfect. That would be boring. We are all always changing, affected, human, and emotional. If you have an off day—so be it. Just acknowledge it for what it is. Sometimes maintenance lasts a day and sometimes it lasts for months. Just see it for what it is. Enjoy time off when you have it and be proud of the hard work you do. Acknowledge that not eating over and staying in the middle is a victory all own its own.
Celebrate the victory of maintenance; because in maintenance, you truly learn to have control over your life.