Maintaining Weight Loss – Consistency Over Intensity

During the winter months, it can be difficult to stay the course for maintaining weight loss. Long dark nights. Cold blustery weather.

We are almost six weeks into New Year’s Resolutions and I find that I need a reminder about what I promised myself.

Maintaining weight loss. Developing muscle strength. Cultivating good eating habits.

Already this year I’ve not been to the gym on a regular basis as much as I intended. Maybe two days a week instead of my usual four or five.

Generally I go skiing down the slopes at a nearby resort during the winter months. This year I haven’t been outside as much as I’ve wanted to, partly due to sub freezing weather the early part of January. Then I’ve also been dealing with an unexpected schedule, requiring me to be out of town and away from home. Consistent eating habits are more of a challenge when I’m away.

I am reminded that fitness is not a race. The ocean smooths large rocks into tiny grains of sand by consistently waves washing in and out.

My big goal this year is to stay consistent with exercise and healthy eating habits. I know that this will help me with maintaining my weight loss.

Consistency Over Intensity

For 2018, I’ve picked a phrase that I want to focus on: Consistency Over Intensity. It kinda follows that mantra of many marathon runners – just put one foot in front of the other.

I think about this when I push snow around on the driveway. Shoveling some snow has helped me get steps when I really hadn’t expected to get some. I talked about that in our recent podcast episode 2. When my son was in high school, it became his job to shovel the snow on the walks and the drive. When he went away to college I returned to snow removal duties. The result was one of the rude reminders of being out of shape. By consistently getting my steps, challenging myself and going to the gym to get exercise, I’m now able to easily spend 30 minutes clearing the snow, without any problem.

I was reminded of consistency over intensity when I read a post in Weighty Matters from a Canadian doctor who writes about the food industry. “And I tell people, day in and day out, that if they’re curious about how they’re doing, the answer to that question isn’t how much they weigh, how much they’ve lost, how their clothing fits, how they feel physically, or how they feel mentally. Rather I tell them that if they want to know how they’re doing, they have to reflect on what they’re actually doing…”

Going skiing is fun. It requires a lot of gear. Fitting into those same pair of ski pants is one indication that I’m maintaining my weight loss.

We all know it is so important to stay mobile, flexible, strong and fit. Lately I have been especially reminded of that when I’ve had recent unexpected challenges of caring for a relative. By keeping myself healthy, fit and strong, I’m able to be there to help others.

Having a “go-to” exercise routine helps replace that dragged out feeling of tiredness with the powerful feel good hormones that are released after exercising – dopamine and endorphins. This keeps me coming back for more.

Being more fit and strong just feels good. It allows me to do things that I find really difficult. I guess that’s called a feeling of self-confidence, but it’s not exactly that.

Consistent change = Positive Progress

I find that too much intensity leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed. All or nothing dieting. Over the top exercise. Too many rules and changes. I simply won’t stick with it if the plan is too drastic. I need to stay the course. Keep on keeping on.

Sometimes consistency feels boring. I’m tempted to switch out with something “not so good.” Just this once. Special occasion. (Why does it sometimes seem that there is a special occasion more often than a regular day?) Birthdays, holidays, happy times, sad times. Friday night TGIF. Sunday Funday. Stressed-out-Monday. It’s easy to make exceptions, isn’t it?

I know in my heart that consistency is the key to maintaining a weight loss.¬†Intensity comes and goes. Heck, I know that too much intensity can easily lead to injury. And if I’m not consistent with my recovery strategies I can end up having a problem.

Motivation wanes. Huge goals overwhelm, but I know when I have a good step-by-step plan, that I can do consistently, I can reach goals that I never thought possible. For instance, back 10 years ago, I never would have dreamed that I could have run a half marathon or bike 150 mile in a weekend.

I’ve come to realize that the way to make it work is to get a good plan and work it.

At one point I liked the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I helped me to dig in, knuckle down and do something I was struggling with. I’m not exactly sure when my brain started completing that saying with my own “yeah, right out the door!” Some how the cynical side of my self talk popped in. It probably when was I was digging too deep, white knuckling too hard and finding that my consistency was replaced with too much intensity.

I have several strategies (or maybe they are actually tactics) for maintaining weight loss that have worked pretty well for me in the six plus years that I’ve managed to keep the weight off. And since I’ve become an exercise lover (athlete?) I’ve found that recovery and pacing are part of my training too. I’m working on an article to share with you in the future. More about that at another time.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me:

  • What do you do consistently to help you to get fit and strong? Or stay fit and strong? Are you working on your New Years Resolution consistently?
  • What is your motivation for maintaining weight loss?
  • Remember that song “Keep on Keeping On”? What phrase or mantra is in your head that you repeat over to yourself?

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