Prepare for permanent slimness as you internalize the eating habits you will follow for the rest of your life.
You're almost there! All your good work and healthy eating habits have paid off, and you now have only five to 10 pounds left to reach your goal weight. Congratulations are in order! Now hear this.
If you have been racing along the road to your goal weight, now is the time to put on the brakes. Much as it is tempting to say, “I can banish these last pounds in a few weeks now that I know how to do Atkins,” you must do something that seems quite the opposite on Pre-Maintenance, the all-important third phase of the Atkins Nutritional Approach™. As you advance toward Lifetime Maintenance, you should proceed so slowly that your weight loss is almost imperceptible. This snail's pace can be excruciating when the end is in sight. But remember: Getting to your goal weight is not your ultimate goal. Your real goal is to maintain that magic number indefinitely.
Your focus is different now. There is little doubt you can and will reach your goal weight. The only doubt is whether you will stay at that weight for life. The purpose now is to create the optimal lifetime eating program, one that fits you so perfectly you will want to stay on it for life.
When you moved to Ongoing Weight Loss, you deliberately slowed down your weight loss by adding more carbs and more variety to your menus. Now you must slow things down even further. The more you learn about eating as you lose those last few pounds, the better. Your next assignment is to increase your carbohydrate consumption until you're losing less than a pound a week. The additional foods will provide increased nutrition and culinary enjoyment. Ideally, you should spend at least a month, and preferably two or three, in this phase.
There is method in what may sound like madness here. If you search for the level that achieves a small amount of weight loss, by the time you reach your goal weight you will, in effect, be on Lifetime Maintenance, at which time your weight loss will naturally slow to a halt. During Pre-Maintenance, you will both accustom yourself to your lifetime eating plan and get a good indication of what it will be like. Think of this phase as a learner's permit, like the one you had when you were just beginning to drive. You were allowed out on the roads, but only with a licensed driver by your side. Pre-Maintenance is like that. You're out there doing it, but you still need some more hours behind the wheel before it's safe to allow you on the highway all by yourself.
That's why it is crucial that you not make the assumption that Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance must be pretty much the same thing because their names sound alike. That's not true: One is a training program; the other is the rest of your life. If you have any misguided ideas about skipping this third phase and going right to Lifetime Maintenance, we implore you not to do so. In fact, we would go so far as to say that Pre-Maintenance is mandatory if permanent weight loss is to be achieved. Again: If you omit Pre-Maintenance, you may well be doomed to failure when it comes to maintaining your weight loss for the long term.
When it comes to the last few pounds, slower is better. That way, by the time you reach your goal weight you will know exactly how you will be eating for the rest of your life—and controlling your carb intake will become automatic. For the specifics on how to do Pre-Maintenance, see How to Do Pre-Maintenance, Part 1.
Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance
How to Do Lifetime Maintenance Correctly
How to Do Lifetime Maintenance Correctly, Part 2