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Maintaining Your Dream Body

Maintaining Your Dream Body: 3 Things You Need to Know

In the world of fitness there is naturally lots of focus on losing the weight (body fat, leaning out, whatever you want to call it) because that seems to be what most want to hear about. People are confused and they want someone to lay it out for them plain and simple so that they can get results fast.

Yet there’s a big piece to the “puzzle” of being healthy and fit for the long-term that is missing, and that piece is how to maintain that dream body once you get it. That’s where we’d like to help.

We’ve been there done that, and we can share what we’ve found to be the secret to your long-term success at maintenance.

In order to maintain your dream body for the long-term you must be willing to do the following.

1. Transition

The typical scenario: You decide you want to achieve some particular goal related to your body. You follow a program that will enable you to achieve that goal. You achieve the results you are looking for. Yay! Now what?

The truth is, immediately after the initial celebration, a lot of people move straight into fear of losing what they’ve achieved. So they think they need to continue on with the strict program that allowed them to achieve it.

You must be willing to transition from the goal-oriented program to a maintenance-oriented program. One that is realistic and healthy for your body for the long-term.

That’s the thing about really strict, hardcore programs that produce results fast… they are not designed for the long-term. You have to realize that it’s not realistic to expect yourself to endure that level of focus, training, and nutrition forever.

This is not to say that you won’t want to set new challenges for yourself and your body because sure, we all want to continue to try new things and expand, but you must be willing to let go and move on to the next chapter in your life.

2. Embrace the ebbs and flows of life

Here’s the thing. You wanted this dream body because having it makes you feel good about yourself and happy, right? It brings with it confidence, self-assurance, and a feeling of empowerment. All of these things help you to enjoy life as a whole more.

So, it’s important to realize that once you’ve done the hardcore program, achieved the results, and transition into maintenance, it’s ok to embrace the ebbs and flows of life. Some weeks you will be super focused on training and your nutrition will be spot on and other weeks you may not be quite as focused, and that’s ok. That’s the beauty of maintenance.

If you imagine it like a graph and your dream body is a straight, horizontal line. Then, imagine your level of focus as a squiggly line—sometimes you are more focused and others you are less focused, but the overall average allows you to maintain what you’ve achieved.

Maintaining Your Dream Body: 3 Things You Need to Know

You must be willing to not only transition, but also to embrace the ebbs and flows of your focus and of life. This is so important. This is not only what allows you to maintain what you’ve achieved for the long-term, but also what allows you to enjoy your life fully.

3. Adopt the no big deal attitude

What do all people who easily maintain their dream body have in common? The answer is a “no big deal” attitude.

This is actually the biggest misconception about maintaining your dream body. If you ask someone who easily maintains their dream body how they maintain what they’ve achieved, what do you think their answer will be? Some might start out by saying that it’s hard work and a lot of planning, but if you keep probing for more detail, they’ll probably end up saying something like, “I don’t know, I just do.”

When researchers say that the body has a “set point” we believe that it’s not really a physical set point at all, but instead mental—it’s an expectation. You must allow your expectation about your body to shift to this new “set point” where you expect yourself to be able to easily maintain what you’ve achieved.

In order to keep this dream body for the long-term, you have to stop thinking about it. You have to allow it to simply become a part of who you are. Your dream body is no longer a goal or something to be achieved—it’s your lifestyle.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s surely something that you honor, appreciate, and celebrate, yet… at the very same time, it also just is.

We hope this has helped you to clarify some things on your road to living well 360.

Where are you at in your dream body journey? Are you still working toward your goal or have you transitioned into maintenance? Let us know in the comment section below.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily Parker August 26, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Maintenance is the hardest for me! I wish I had some sort of caloric cruise control. When I drive, I’m either speeding up or slowing down, and it’s the same with weight. I feel like I’m either losing it, or gaining it, so it is so, so hard for me to shift out of ‘losing’ mode because I’m afraid I’m going to gear right into ‘gaining’ mode. Thanks for this food for thought!

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Sheila August 26, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Thanks for your feedback Emily. This is absolutely why we wrote this post. Fear is sooo not a fun place to be. I hope that it will help you to find your balance, so you can enjoy maintenance AND your dream body achievement(s).

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LeeAnne Hebert August 26, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Ugh – Sheila ….I know what you mean… for me staying focused is key, every now and again I get a tad lackadaisical which is when my body finds it “set point” – it is me not doing what I need to do like planning my food, scheduling my workouts, etc. which has actually become a big part of who I am and what I do – Is it easy ?? Depends on my mood and what is going on in my life… when I get too overwhelmed with things I lose focus… but then I get refocused and get right back to it … It’s just how I chose to live my life today… hugs you see you in about 25 days!!

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Sheila August 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Thanks for your comment LeeAnne. Are you in maintenance right now? See you soon!

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angela August 26, 2011 at 6:02 PM

with the exception of my post figure competition trauma (as i call it), i’ve always been a maintainer and often times that it’s hard to stay focused and motivated when you don’t have clear cut goals. here are a few insights i thought i’d share from my blog – hope it inspires some great things!
http://angelamanzanares.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/lessons-from-the-jockey-saddle/
live life fit!
angela

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Sheila August 26, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Once we get bit by the fitness bug, challenging ourselves to new and greater levels is part of the package, right? :-) It’s the letting go of the fear and allowing ourselves to move into that next chapter that we’re hoping to help shed some light on…which is probably exactly what you’re talking about when you mentioned your “post figure competition trauma.”

Thanks for commenting and for sharing the link!

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Marie August 26, 2011 at 6:49 PM

I never really had a weight issue until I had children. After each child, though, I would join a weight reduction program and over a period of time get down to my pre-baby weight. I think for me, I always thought of myself as slender so that may be why after I lost the weight, I didn’t gain it back (until I had the next child, of course), but then I was able to lose it again. Later in life, I gained weight and was told by medical professionals that “I was getting to that age where it was hard to keep it off” but I just didn’t believe them. I began a new food and exercise plan and lost the weight again and have been able to keep it off for over five years now. I think it is a focus on how I perceived myself along with choosing healthier foods and of course exercise that has helped me maintain my desired weight. Thanks Sheila for great article!

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Sheila August 26, 2011 at 8:33 PM

I think we should all make a promise to ourselves not to believe anyone who tells us something that, if we believed it were true, would be to our detriment. I’m glad you decided to take your power back.

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Jenny September 3, 2011 at 2:36 PM

I have the opposite problem. I have maintenance down. I exercise, I eat healthy, enjoy treats in moderation, but I have trouble following the strict fat loss programs. I manage to stop the weight gain, but have never successfully lost weight.

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Jonathan The Fitness Guy September 7, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Thanks for this great info! It’s one thing to achieve the body you want but it’s equally challenging to maintain that figure. We have to learn to develop a strong disciplne and self-control, not allowing bad habots to dominate us.

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Roland September 9, 2011 at 10:18 PM

As someone who’s been “maintaining” for years, I don’t feel like I’ve transitioned to maintenance so much as changed goals. Sometimes those goals are long term, but sometimes they are just for today.

For example, my current long term goal is to compete and make rank in a kettlebell sport competition. I need to eat and train in certain ways to do that. A short term goal might be to have enough energy for two hours of standup paddling tomorrow, a five hour hike, or have the ability to concentrate on a nutrition presentation that I’m giving.

None of these things require specific calories a day, eating at specific times, or a very specific amount of rest or sleep, but thinking about these goals and how I live my life (and my day) does help. It helps keep track of changes to my body, and keeps my focus on what’s important. As a result, my support of my positive goals seems keep my body composition in check, all without being too focused on the fear of slipping back into old habits. That’s not going to happen!

Roland

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Sheila September 11, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Yes, it’s all about the positive goals. Great insight Roland!

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Sarah September 14, 2011 at 3:23 PM

This is such a great post, and beautifully expressed. I like the ‘maintenance graph’, it makes the concept much easier to visualise! I think the problem for a lot of people is that they assume that their body is ‘naturally imperfect’, and that it must take constant hard work to keep it looking and feeling great. In reality the opposite is true! Maintenance is a whole lot easier than getting to your ‘dream body’ in the first place!

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