Now that you understand that Pre-Maintenance is the phase that bridges losing weight and maintaining weight, let me spell out exactly what this crucial phase will do for you. During it, you will:
- find your new Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL) slowly, as well as your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance (CCLM).
- explore more food choices, while learning how not to abuse them.
- become aware of the foods or situations that can make you lose sight of your long-term goals.
- internalize your responses to food so that what used to be a struggle becomes a conscious choice, one that serves you for the rest of your life.
- find out how flexible Atkins is.
- learn how to deal with temptation.
- learn how to immediately erase the problems created by making unhealthy food choices to prevent “yo-yo” weight gain and loss.
- develop a style of eating for a lifetime.
It’s a Lifestyle
Pre-Maintenance is crucial to getting your weight under control for good, but it is also about far more important things-the first, of course, being your health. To reduce your long-term risks for conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes there is nothing more effective than maintaining a healthy weight. But I am also thinking about such things as your ability to make choices that are right for you, not for your spouse, your parents, your friends or even your doctor. When you realize you can be in charge of what you eat, how you look and how healthy you are, it empowers you in all the other aspects of your life. Instead of worrying about looking good to please someone else, you are likely coming to realize that what matters is how you feel about how you look and feel. You are learning the skills that allow you to take charge of your life.
How to Do Pre-Maintenance
When you were doing OWL, you learned how to increase your carb intake in increments of 5 grams. In this phase, you can shift into a higher gear: Increase your daily carb count by 10 grams each week so long as you continue to lose. (See “The Power of Ten” on pages 201-203 and refer to the carbohydrate gram counter in this book.) If you introduce new foods slowly and increase your grams of carbs gradually, your CCLL should increase gradually. This new and higher CCLL will reflect the fact that you are now losing weight more slowly
Some Variations on the Rule
Another approach to Pre-Maintenance is to continue eating as you were at the end of OWL and to allow yourself a 20-gram carb treat two or three times a week. Add a piece of fruit or a starchy vegetable-a serving of brown rice or sweet potatoes, for example. You can also have a glass of white wine, a light beer or the white spirits. You could get more adventurous with some of the excellent controlled carbohydrate convenience foods that are increasingly available. Or, if your metabolic resistance is at the low end, you may be able to enjoy such treats more frequently.
If Addictions Recur
If addictions do reappear-in the form of food obsessions and cravings-you’re probably indulging too much in the foods that got you into trouble to begin with. The vicious cycle of hyperinsulinism and resultant low blood-sugar levels, combined with the possibility of specific food allergies or intolerances, can create an addictive situation. When you go back to bread, fruit or fermented foods, you may suddenly discover that you must have these foods, that no day or meal feels right without them. Observe yourself carefully. You are engaged in a real battle for self-control as your defenses crumble. You’ll notice that the need that develops is genuinely physical. It isn’t simply that you know pasta tastes good, and you’d like to have it. No, your body absolutely roars with anxiety and passion for that pasta. You are under its spell. When this happens, you’ll know.
It’s natural for your weight to vary from day to day, which is why I recommend you do not weigh yourself every day. But from week to week, you should be seeing a difference in the way your clothes fit. For some people, adding 10 additional grams of carbs each week to their daily menu may be too much. Try dropping back to 5-gram increments.