At the Finish Line
I would expect that as you traveled along the slow Pre-Maintenance path, one day you realized you were actually in Lifetime Maintenance: Your weight remained constant within a pound or two for several weeks. The decisions to move from Induction to OWL and from OWL to Pre-Maintenance were conscious choices on your part. But it is not always easy to define the moment at which you leave Pre-Maintenance and move to Lifetime Maintenance; the former segues naturally into the latter. But from now on, you will have conscious choices to make every day of your life. So, let me remind you of why it is worth making the right choices.
How to Do Lifetime Maintenance-Correctly
Now that you’ve made it to your goal weight, you can continue to select from a greater range of foods and consume more cars than you did in the two earlier phases of Atkins. But as I’ve said at every transition: No way is this a license to return to your old eating patterns. All too often, people win the battle of weight loss only to lose the war of weight control. To maintain your goal weight, you must know your metabolic needs. Your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance, which you found during Pre-Maintenance, lets you know how m, carbs you can eat each day to maintain your weight. S right at or around that number, and your weight should fluctuate beyond the perfectly natural range of 2 of pounds. (Hormonal changes and other daily fluctuation your body account for a small seesaw effect.) Later, I’ll you about why and how you may have to adjust your CCLM at various times in your life.
The Nitty-Gritty of Maintenance
What you should be asking yourself is “What level of carbohydrate consumption do I feel best on?” That’s a more rational goal than trying to find the highest number of carbs you can get away with. This may mean you actually stay slightly below your CCLM. Many people find they feel better on a low level of carbs-perhaps only 30 or 35 grams a day-than they do on the most liberal version of the plan. That might be two salads and a couple of helpings of other vegetables. Together with satisfying portions of protein and fat, such an approach could provide good nutrition if you were vigilant about opting for nutrient-dense foods.
A Lifetime of Delicious Meals
What most of my patients discover by the time they reach the Lifetime Maintenance phase of Atkins is how endlessly varied, rich and satisfying this way of eating is. Donna Miller, who came to see me a couple of years ago drained of all energy, beset with allergies and 30 pounds overweight, had always been a bread, bagels and pizza freak. In four months, she went from being a size 12 (almost bursting at the seams, as she admitted) to being a size 8. In addition, her energy returned almost as soon as we took her off of wheat, sugar and milk. But what was she going to eat?
She was a resourceful woman, and I hope her eating plan sounds as attractive to you as it does to me. For breakfast now she often eats smoked salmon and a small salad or two scrambled eggs with tofu. For lunch, she’ll stir-fry or steam vegetables the way the Japanese do, and with them she’ll have corned beef or a lean hamburger patty or some fish.
Dealing with Weight Gain
But even with flexibility and great food, you can come upon a patch of trouble. What if you’re happily eating away and feeling great, and then suddenly you notice those awful pounds and inches are staging a revival? Since you are in Lifetime Maintenance, I know that you’ve reached your goal weight. Therefore, you’re probably no longer in lipolysis, which, by definition, involves an element of fat loss. Newly slim people are no longer trying to shed pounds, and so they don’t burn fat for fuel most of the time because they’re above their CCLL.
But here’s the catch that many people don’t see: There is very little leeway before you break through your CCLM to the level at which you begin to gain. A typical male of average metabolic resistance may find he has a CCLM of 50 grams. As long as he regularly eats no more than 50 grams of carbs a day he will not lose more weight and become too thin. On the other hand, if he starts consuming 60 grams a day, he’ll be above his CCLM and will start to regain weight
Protect Your Weight Losses
You have invested a lot of effort and psychic energy in the lessons you learned on your weight loss journey. Since you and I both know you have a tendency to put on the pounds, I want you to keep a sharp eye for any resumption of weight gain. Maybe Thanksgiving is coming up, or Christmas, or your birthday, or your spouse’s birthday, or your vacation. By the time you celebrate any one of those with a bout of unrestrained indulgence, you may find that instead of being 5 pounds overweight you’re 15 pounds overweight. Instead of waiting, act now!
Don’t get depressed and give up. Even if you do temporarily get off track, continue to exercise and take your supplements. It’s crucial that you don’t surrender all control. Start with Induction and stay on OWL until you’ve reached your goal weight again, at which time you should ease back into Lifetime Maintenance. Exercising more vigorously after going overboard will also help get you back on the straight and narrow.