In my previous blog, we talked about whether it’s OK to stray while following Atkins. To a certain extent, it’s all about weighing the pros and cons. Is the short-term sugar-rush from that donut worth putting your fat burning in jeopardy and losing the Atkins Edge, let alone the ensuing energy slump and guilt you might feel? The answer will usually be no.
But, we need to get real. There will come a time when temptation becomes, well, too tempting. I’m going to show you how to plan for these situations so that a moment of straying off the path won’t derail your long-term progress. Atkins is a way of life, after all. With this being said, I need to preface everything I am about to say with a very strong disclaimer. You should not attempt any of these strategies unless you’ve achieved certain milestones, or I can assure you that you will put your weight loss in jeopardy.
Keep reading, if:
You have reached your goal weight
You are curious to know what you have to look forward to when you reach or are very close to goal.
You have figured out how to control your carbohydrate intake over an extended period time, and during tempting or stressful situations (holidays, parties, travel, eating out, unexpected schedule changes, etc.)
You know how many carbs you should eat each day to maintain your goal weight
Now that we got that out of the way, and we have established you've made it to your goal weight, you will continue to select from a greater range of foods and consume more carbs than you did in the weight-loss phases of the Atkins Nutritional Approach™. If your metabolism can handle it, you can—in moderation—eat many of the foods you used to enjoy. But remember that 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 Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE), which you found during Pre-Maintenance, lets you know how many carbs you can eat each day to maintain your weight.
Stay right at or around that number, and your weight should not fluctuate beyond the perfectly natural range of two or three pounds. (Hormonal changes and other daily fluctuations in your body account for a small seesaw effect.) Later, you'll learn why and how you may have to adjust your ACE at various times in your life. You also must conquer your former bad habits and learn how to cope with real-world challenges.
Maintaining weight loss is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. For example, you need to eat right even under stress. How? By realizing that we tend to reach for sugar and starchy foods for comfort, when proper food choices can actually lessen the impact of stress on your body. Similarly, you'll need coping strategies for holidays and special occasions, as well as knowing how to get restaurants to serve you exactly what you know you should be eating.
Perhaps you can plan to cheat by cutting back for a few days before an event and then carefully choose a few indulgences. Or go back to a previous level of the plan prior to a vacation or holiday to give yourself some leeway. As you did in the three weight-loss phases of Atkins, make weight control a constant priority in your life. Re-create that attitude and you can continue your success. One good tool is to—once and for all—get rid of your "fat" wardrobe. When your clothes are getting tight and you don't have the next size in the closet to retreat to, you'll be forced to confront your weight gain sooner. By never letting your weight vary more than three to five pounds, you'll head off trouble and get off the weight roller coaster for good.
Promise to weigh yourself at least once a week. Choose a lifetime weight range of five pounds, the low number being your goal weight. The higher number will be your maximum allowable weight. Whenever you reach the higher number, you must promise yourself that, within a week, you will go back to Ongoing Weight Loss until you reach your goal weight again. Do this and you will never have more than five pounds to lose.
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What are your thoughts on straying once you have reached your weight-loss goals? Do you allow yourself occasional indulgences, and, if so, how do you plan for those? I’d love to hear! Please share your thoughts with the Atkins Community and also let me know what you’d like to hear about in the future.