February 18, 2014


My kids are on winter break all this week (not that they needed it, because they've been off SO much from all the snow days). If they weren't on winter break, though, today would have been yet another snow day for them. We ended up getting another six inches of snow last night! Jerry said the roads were terrible on his way to work this morning.

Yesterday, I had a 40-minute tempo run on the schedule. Hal Higdon's tempo runs are completely different from what I've always considered a tempo run and from what I learned in my RRCA certification class. His version of a tempo run is what I would call a "pyramid" run--gradually getting faster and faster until peak speed (he suggests 10K pace), and then reducing speed. To me, a tempo run is done at a steady "comfortably hard" pace--generally, the pace you can hold for about an hour.

I don't like Higdon's version, so even though I'm loosely following his training schedule right now, I decided to just do whatever felt right yesterday. I ran slowly for 10 minutes, to warm-up, and then increased the speed to my tempo pace (8:13/mi). I'd planned to run that for 20 minutes, then cool down for for the last 10. But after about a mile at tempo pace, my shoulders were killing me! I was really sore from doing push-ups the day before, and swinging my arms while running made them ache really badly.

I slowed the pace for a half mile, and then picked it up again for another mile, but I was still in pain. So what my run up being was actually "tempo intervals"--longer intervals at tempo pace, with a short break in between. Not exactly what I was aiming for, but more effective than an easy run.

I've been struggling a lot with trying to figure out what I want to do as far as a training plan. I've changed my mind so many times since I ran the Chicago Marathon! I've started plans only to switch to something else a few weeks later. With all the ice and snow, I haven't been able to train outside at all this winter, so I feel like I'm just kind of "in limbo" as far as a training schedule. Some days, I think I want to go back to doing six days a week, like for the Hansons' Method, but other times, I think I want to cut back to three days week, just for fitness. I can never make up my mind ;)

I've been going through the same issue with whether to count or not to count--calories/points, whatever. I was doing really well without counting for a couple of months, but lately, I've been snacking more and more. It's easy to eat too much, because there aren't any numbers telling me that I should stop eating now (like when I would reach my calorie/point target for the day, if counting). Especially since I'm not weighing in all month, I'm afraid it could get out of control... so I've been tempted to start counting again. My sister was wondering if I wanted to text our food logs again, and that kind of made me want to go back to counting points. But another part of me just wants to be "normal", and not count.

Question: For those of you that have lost the weight via counting calories or points, do you continue to count in maintenance? Is it something you think you'll always have to do?

In a perfect world, I wouldn't have to count, and I wouldn't overeat or binge; but it's not a perfect world ;) I'm completely fine with my weight being a few pounds over goal--Mark's cancer diagnosis and outlook on life made me realize that the number on the scale really isn't important, as long as I'm healthy and active. I guess my fear is just that I'll gain even more, and feel just as comfortable; and gain a little more, etc.

You would think that after being in maintenance for three years, I'd have this all figured out by now! Hahaha, I'm always learning new things, always changing my goals, and always changing my mind about what I find important. So I guess it's natural that I have to change up the way I do things! Wouldn't it be nice if we could just get to maintenance, and that was it? We'd never have to worry about weight/food/etc again? ;)

I pre-ordered the Hansons' Half Marathon Method book on Amazon, and it's supposed to be released in April. I think once I read that, I'm sure I'll get the itch to work on training for another half-marathon. The only one that I have planned for this year is the Detroit Free Press Half in October, but maybe I'll find one sooner. Summer isn't ideal for running a half, but at least I'll have more focused training.

Right now, I just wish that the streets would be clear so that I could run outside! I spent a couple of hours today chipping away at the thick layer of ice that was our driveway. I cleared about 90 percent of the ice from the driveway (and got a killer upper body workout). It's kind of funny--it was 34 degrees today, but it felt SO much warmer (the "feels like" temp was 43). My kids were outside without coats, and I was shoveling snow (ice) in just a t-shirt and yoga pants! I hope this means that spring is around the corner...!


  1. I haven't reached my goal weight yet, so I'm no authority on this (having never done maintenance) but I wonder if there's a half-way between counting and not counting.

    I do my best weight loss when I track every single thing that I eat, but when I don't have time to count I tend to throw the plan out of the window because it's not perfect. So it's not really my best weight loss if I throw the plan out of the window every few days.

    Lately I have had success with staying somewhere in the middle. I don't log/track my food but I have clear boundaries for what I can eat and when. I eat three meals of 300 calories each and snacks of 300 calories. I have 10-15 meals that I can cook and are all within my calorie limit. I also have a bunch of snacks that I know are within my calories. It makes it easy to keep track of in my head, the only downfall is that it's easier to "sneak" food without tracking it. But it's still more effective than tracking everything.

    I hope that helps (or adds another angle to the topic).


  2. I've maintained my weight loss for 20+ years (with 2 pregnancies in there:) and periodically I will go back to tracking to check in with what I've been doing if I feel like my jeans are a bit tighter than normal. I'm not really a numbers gal, don't weigh myself very often (1x every few months unless my pants feel tight-and then I'll hop on a bit more frequently), never counted points but have used SP to track when I need to do a reality check. I try to keep as relaxed an attitude about my weight as possible- while also being mindful that it's entirely possible to slip into habits that aren't consistent with the weight/shape I like to maintain. It's not "effortless" maintenance- it's "realistic" maintenance if that makes any sense. Knowing that for the most part I maintain a healthy weight but that sometimes I need a little tune up on my habits to stay in the healthiest body I can. Hope that helps. As always, Katie, thanks for the inspiration and keepin' it real!

  3. I've maintained for 3 years now, and have managed to stay within a 5-lb range. I lost the weight by counting calories. Over the past 3 years, I "half track" my calories, meaning I faithfully track about 50 percent of the time and stay within that caloric amount. I eat pretty much the same type of things for meals and snacks, so I know what's in my caloric budget and rely on that. If I'm hungry, I don't stress about it and eat something extra. I don't eat out that often, but when I do, I make healthy choices and split dessert. I would say that I do a mixture of calorie counting and intuitive eating. I also don't weigh myself on a regular basis (maybe every 2-3 months), and use my clothes (and my mood) as a guideline of how well I'm doing. When I start to feel bloated and my clothes are not fitting as well as they used to, then I get back on the strict calorie counting for a few weeks until I'm back to my old self.

  4. I'll have to check out the Hal Higdon book....although if it comes out in April, maybe I'll wait to read it. My first half is in May, and I'm following the Novice 1 plan...I don't want to psych myself out so close to the race!

    Regarding tracking: I remember watching Weight of the Nation (HBO Documentary) a few years ago, and they profiled two women that had successfully lost a significant amount of weight and kept if off for 10 years. They were on the national weight control registry, and they said that the folks who run the registry have noted that the most successful maintainers continue to track what they eat (even if it's just a daily diary that doesn't count anything).

    I can totally see how that might be the case. Everyone that ends up coming back to our Weight Watchers meeting after attaining lifetime and gaining some or all of it back say that they stopped tracking.

    I'll just be happy to get to the points where I have to worry about maintaining. 30ish pounds left to go!

  5. What's normal? I think to maintain a weight loss that there has to be some kind of tracking.

  6. I can't wait to read more of these comments on maintenance! I've been maintaining a 50+ lb weight loss for a year (March 6th!), and I still have to track every day to maintain my weight (I was overweight my whole life, so this is the first time I've been a healthy weight, and man, bad habits die hard!). I lost weight using WW, but for the past month I've been doing IIFYM, and I LOVE it. I'm pretty happy with numbers, and I pre-track every day.

    I agree with what another commenter said; both Weight of the Nation and WW have convinced me I need to track for the foreseeable future. It might not be normal or easy, but losing a lot of weight isn't normal and easy, and if being in the 10% that keep the weight off means tracking every day, I have no problem with it.

    That said, I know plenty of LT who only track when their weight goes up. I think this works well for some, especially people who tend to eat the same things each day, but it definitely has not worked for me so far.

  7. Hey Katie! I've been a long-time reader of yours, but this is my first time commenting!
    I've lost about 70 pounds in the past 2 years. Our stats are remarkably similar (I'm 5' 3" and currently weigh between 139-140 pounds), so I figured I'd comment on my current method of maintenance. I actually would like to lose another 9 pounds or so, but, again, like you, I'm happy just being a healthy BMI. I never wanted to have to "track" anything, so I never really used much structure in my eating, so much as watching my portions and roughly keeping track of calories in my head. I did couch-to-5k at the onset of my weight loss, and quickly became a "runner". I was addicted to the high, the adding longer distances, and how confident it made me feel. I ran 2 5k's, and started to train for a half marathon before being sidelined by my bad immune system. And I was losing weight, so I figured I found the magic equation. Eat less+Run=Weight Loss.
    Well, in November 2013, after struggling with MRSA infections on my face for a few months, my doctor said he wanted to put me on IV antibiotics for 10 days. Guess what? This meant no running because I had a tube in my arm 24 hours a day. Cue "OHMYGOODNESSIMGOINGTOLOSEALLMYFITNESSITSTHEENDOFTHEWORLD!!!!!" But, surprisingly, I found, I didn't really miss not running. I didn't miss going out in the cold. Once I could work out again, I found other exercise methods I really LOVED (Pilates, Cardio Boxing, Etc.) and the feeling of relief knowing that I wouldn't gain all the weight I lost back just because I stopped running was huge. I wasn't ravenous all the time from running, and I broke my 6 month weight plateau!
    I'm not telling you to stop running at all. You seem to truly love it, and by all means, run your heart out. Do what you love. But I would tell you to not do anything because you HAVE to, for fear that if you don't run 5 days a week or if you don't count every point you will gain weight, because that will suck the joy right out of your day. Knowing I had to wake up an hour earlier before work to run sucked the joy right out of my day, I know that. I was sick of working out exhausted. Now, if I'm too tired to exercise after work, oh well, I'll make it up on Saturday. And I always do, because I'm doing something I love. And about counting points and calories? I find that counting calories once or twice a week helps keep me in check. It makes sure that my portions aren't sneakily becoming bigger. And I feel free. I don't feel chained to a tracker. I eat what I'm craving. Some days I eat more, some days I eat less. But everyone has to do what works for them. I'm not saying my way is the best way to do things, I just figured I'd share what works for me.

  8. I am no longer a success story. I hit goal almost 3 years ago, after losing 170 lbs., maintained it for two and a half years, then last Fall, around Thanksgiving time, I started snacking too much and put back on about 25 pounds. After the first of the year, I made it my goal to get back to goal weight, and did lose about 10 pounds, then lost my way again and now I fear I've put that back on. I hate to get on the scale. I quit tracking my food on Spark a few months after I hit goal. Perhaps that would help me get back on the weight-loss trail? I have no answers. Like you, I wish once you got to maintenance, that it was all done. But it's not a perfect world, and maintenance is really really hard. I would so like to get back down to my goal before my anniversary, which is April 15, Like you, I fear a small gain will lead to a large gain and soon all the weight will be back. That scares me, but still I can't quit snacking. Frustrating.

    I feel badly for you and all that snow the Great Lakes area has had this Winter. It sounds horrible. But those ice caves near Lake Michigan sound amazing. Does Lake Erie have anything like that?

  9. I pre-ordered that book too!

  10. Chipping ice! Your shoulders are still going to hurt!

  11. I think you just need to be aware of what you are eating. I have tracked my food for years and now I am going to just write it down without knowing what the calories are. I am going back to losing mode because vacation made my pants tight, so I have guidelines to follow and I will stick to those. There is nothing wrong with changing up how you do things to keep yourself aware of maintenance. Not tracking will work until it stops working LOL - and then you can track again. There is no permanent way to do maintenance. I think maintenance is really not the right word anyway. Seems like you always have to make minor adjustments.

  12. I look at tracking as a way of life now. When I don't track I snack and then I binge. Things have been stressful round here lately and since I am a big emotional binger, I have been extra diligent with my counting even on a binge, so I can accept it and move forward. I don't think I will ever be able to stop counting. I will fall right off the wagon if I do.

  13. I don't really track like I used to be I keep a general running tally in my head. When I lost weight I kept a spreadsheet and did a very good job of logging everything. Now that I am at goal weight and looking to stay there, I just keep a running tally in my head. I'm pretty good at ballparking calories and am not much of a snacker. I honestly don't give it much thought until dinner, which I then kind of adjust based on what I ate earlier that day (mostly this consists of whether or not I can have a beer or two with my food :P).

  14. I have times where I go for a couple of months or so without tracking but then I start putting on a few pounds. Even when I'm doing ok without tracking, I'm always aware of what I've had and I still think of the number of points in things even if I'm not figuring it out exactly. I just know that it is always going to have to be on my mind forever to keep things under control. Right now I'm back to figuring out points and tracking because I need to get a few pounds off so I can weigh in by the last day of February.

  15. A few years ago I lost 50 pounds, started with WW and then transitioned to just calorie counting via MFP. I slacked off on counting calories, but maintained my weight for the year following. And then gradually the next year weight started creeping back on. Before I finally reigned it all back in I had gained back 20 pounds (I've since lost it, along with another ten). I don't love the idea of having to count calories forever, but I do like that option better than sliding into over-eating and regaining.

  16. I was a thin person before having my children. I put on 40 pounds and kept it on for about 10 years after 2 children. I dropped the 40 pounds and maintained by paying close attention to what I ate for about 2.5 years. I worked myself into what I think was an eating disorder. I started bingeing and being afraid of the scale. I put 30 of the 40 back on. Last April, I decided the weight was going to come back off again. I took off between 25 - 30 pounds. This time, I tracked while I was actively losing weight, but quit when I was done. I truly believe that at some point a person must go from writing down their food to being able to intuitively know what to eat. I studied two naturally thin people (my husband and my sister) and asked them questions that they had trouble answering because they've never thought about food the way I do. First, they do not keep track of what they eat! I learned that they both eat a very small variety of foods. They have their "go to" foods that make up most of their diets. This means that most days, most meals they eat pretty much the same things. When they do want something extra they do not worry in the least about it. They just eat it and go right back to their regular, routine meal with the very next meal. If they go on vacation and don't have their normal foods, they eat and don't worry about it. When they get back home, they go right back to their normal and take the extra pounds off in a week or so. Neither of them snacks between meals. Both of them say that they let themselves get good and hungry before they eat the next meal. Neither obsesses about food between meals. They find something to busy themselves. I have copied their techniques and I am happy to say I have not tracked my food nor have I gained any weight since April, 2013. I am currently 5'5" and 1/2 inch and weigh 138. At some point this fall I did weigh 133 after training for and running a half, but 138 is my regular weight. I check the scale about 1x a month. I will not let myself go over 140. I have one pair of pants that I have had since 2007. I will never throw them out. As long as they fit, I feel like I am a healthy weight. I will tell you that I am relieved to not have to track anymore. I found it tedious and somewhat part of the problem. When I write down what I eat, I find myself thinking way, way too much about food and I get pretty obsessive pretty fast when I am forced to write it all down. I think that saying, "I eat to live. I don't live to eat." is pretty spot on for a naturally thin person. I hope this reply does not sound too "know -it-all-ish". I don't profess to know it all. I just know how tired I have become of diets and points and calories, etc. The above is what helped me.

  17. Not that I was technically at maintenance mode, but I maintained (have been maintaining) my 45lb loss for over six months. For most of that I didn't count calories which is likely why I didn't lose, but after counting calories for so long, I had a rough estimate. And if I was totally honest with myself, I knew how much food I should be eating. I think if you're honest with yourself, you know when too much snacks is too much. But I agree it is easier to tell yourself 'no, no more snacks' when you have hard data in front of you that you have eaten your calories for the day.

  18. Stephanie from BelgiumFebruary 20, 2014

    I have realized that when I'm not tracking I tend to overeat on some days but on most days I undereat. Hence weight gain because I stock on the overeat days and feel sluggish all the time because I don't have enough energy... Back to tracking.

  19. Reading through all the comments, I'm noticing two things that I've noticed before: 1) most folks who lost weight w/ tracking, then stopped or do it periodically, gain weight (that goes for those who track again when the pants are tight, for example), and 2) those of us who lose weight by tracking do not have the same relationship with food that "naturally thin" people do (those folks do not even think about food, let alone have a relationship with it).

    I lost 50lbs tracking on WW. I didn't feel deprived. I didn't feel restricted. I felt fueled, and my relationship with food changed. I maintained (+/- 2lbs of goal weight) for 7 months, tracking (and working out, then starting to run). I like numbers, but not as much as some folks.

    At 7 months, I ran headlong into a bag of Easter candy - almost literally - and have had trouble righting the ship out of the periodic untracked bingey moments. At one point, I said "eff it" to tracking, even, for a few weeks, knowing full well what would happen. Almost at that re-gain anniversary, I am still fighting to get rid of my last 10-12lbs - again. It's taking me longer to ditch those lbs again (and feel as healthy as I did at goal weight (it's 100% a healthy feeling for me) than it did for me to lose 50lbs.

    What's different this time? I don't track like a maniac. So guess what? Starting today, which just happens to be my weigh in day (1/wk, and I didn't like what an untracked weekend of beach food did to that number), I am going to re-up - again - to maniacal tracking. Here we go - for our health.

  20. I've maintained a 60-pound weight loss for 2 years on WW. I still track almost every day. Is it a hassle? Yes. But it's better than having to test my blood sugar 5 times a day, shoot insulin, see opthalmologists twice a year in case I go blind, lose a foot etc. It's the cross I have to bear, so to speak. Is it "normal?" I don't know what that means. It's not something that so-called "normal" people do, but then again, most normal people in the US are overweight.

  21. I think there's a lot of that indecisiveness going around right now. This is a tough time of year. It's nice that the freezing temps are finally gone, though.

  22. I've been a lifetime WW member for 10 years. Several times in those 10 years i would gain back about 10 lbs including last year. I don't alway track but when i feel like my eating is getting out of control i always go back to tracking. Tracking works because it holds you accountable. But for me the biggest thinkg is exercise. I feel like it is easier to maintain and not track if i'm exercising on a consistant basis. Last year i didn't completely fall of the exercise band wagon but wasn't exercising consistantly. I always had an excuse. Since Jan. 1 I started exercising and tracking points and lost 9 lbs. in 6 weeks. Also whenever i didn't feel like exercising i kept telling my self no more excuses. I'm now at a point where exercise is a regular part of my week and i have stopped tracking. I hoping this time i continue to do what i'm doing because i feel so much better than i did 2 months ago. Bottom line is it never gets any easier even after 10 years.

  23. I've been in maintenance since last April and still log in everything. For me, tracking my food is important. The Nat'l Register of Weight Loss reports that most successful maintainers do track their food.
    Maybe when I have two or three years of maintenance I'll only track on the weekends. We'll see.

  24. It's been 3 years since I lost the weight, I still go to WW every month to weigh in. If I track at least a couple times a week, it keeps me aware that those extra big spoonfulls and little snacks can add up to a meal's worth of calories and keeps me in check again till I start slipping.
    So yes, tracking is my normal, but so is eating healthy, knowing that treats have their place and not to over-indulge, and ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE. Keep working out, keep eating the same sorts of foods, keep doing what works for me.


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

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