In a fitness world obsessed with extremes , it’s easy to get caught up in the constant pursuit of weight loss or muscle gain. This pressure to conform to societal ideals in fitness can be overwhelming, and it seems like we are always told to be doing more.
If you have been on the grind for a while and need a break, know that you can! And if you aren’t sure how, or what it is supposed to look like, then let me introduce you to maintenance mode.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of maintenance mode and I will share a few practical tips for integrating it into your fitness routine.
Maintenance mode means that you are maintaining your current level of physical health without actively trying to lose weight or build muscle mass.
In this phase, you are focusing on stability and sustainability rather than drastic changes. This allows you to take a step back from intense training or high-volume, while keeping you well-positioned to ramp up again smoothly when you need to.
Maintenance mode ensures that you’re taking care of your body without pushing it to extremes like counting every calorie or pushing yourself to the brink at the gym. It allows you to keep your current level of fitness, preventing injuries and burnout.
Other benefits include:
Mental well-being: Constantly chasing drastic fitness goals can lead to stress and anxiety. Maintenance mode offers a mental break and promotes a healthier relationship with your body.
Long-Term Sustainability: Maintenance mode encourages sustainable habits that can be maintained for the long haul.
Set Realistic Goals: Instead of aiming for dramatic changes, maintenance mode means you get to just focus on maintaining your current weight and fitness level.
Diversify Your Workouts: This phase encourages you to explore different forms of exercise that you enjoy, from yoga to hiking, to keep your routine interesting and sustainable.
Mindful Eating: When you step away from a restrictive diet, you now get to practice mindful eating by listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
Prioritize Self-Care: When you step away from a specific aesthetic or performance goal, you get to Prioritize other elements of your wellness journey such as sleep and stress management.
Listen to Your Body: Recovery is an essential part of maintenance mode. When you exit a grit period and enter a grace period, you get to prioritize rest more by paying attention to your body’s signals, resting when you need it, and not pushing yourself too hard.
Now, let’s delve into how to implement maintenance mode effectively.
When you’re strategically managing your diet to lose weight, you maintain a calorie deficit. However, when you enter maintenance mode, your goal is to consume enough calories to maintain your current weight. To make a smooth transition from a caloric deficit to maintenance, it’s essential to increase your daily calorie intake gradually.
In simpler terms, you’ll be eating more than what you’ve been consuming during your weight loss phase but still less than what you used to eat before starting your diet.
I recommend maintaining consistency in your diet, especially if you’re not actively counting calories. A helpful strategy is to focus on portion sizes and pay attention to your hunger cues. As you shift into maintenance mode, be mindful of your satiation levels while enjoying the foods and meals you love. This approach ensures you don’t inadvertently slip into a caloric surplus.
Now, let’s talk about your fitness routine. If you’ve been following a rigorous exercise program, it’s time to dial down the intensity slightly. This is also an excellent opportunity to introduce new forms of exercise into your routine, such as trying out a different workout class or engaging in outdoor activities.
While it’s essential to maintain the weights you can lift at the gym, the goal during maintenance mode is to preserve your current strength levels rather than constantly pushing for higher weights.
Here’s the key takeaway: You may not need to hit the gym as frequently or be as strict with your nutrition, but consistency remains crucial during this phase.
As you transition into maintenance mode, I encourage you to reevaluate your goals and intentions. Your previous goals might have been specific, such as a particular number of workouts or a set amount of food. In this new phase, consider setting goals that focus on different aspects of well-being. For instance, your goal could be “engage in physical activities that bring me joy” or “prioritize overall health and wellness.”
Now, let’s address the question of how long you should stay in maintenance mode.
While it can effectively maintain your fitness for several weeks, extended periods in maintenance mode might lead to a loss of gains. Therefore, it’s essential to strike a balance and periodically reassess your fitness goals and progress.
In conclusion, in a world that often promotes extreme approaches, embracing maintenance mode can be a refreshing and empowering choice. For you, it offers an opportunity to prioritize well-being, self-care, and a balanced approach to fitness. By focusing on stability and sustainability, you can enjoy a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling fitness journey. Have questions on how to implement this for you personally? Contact me here!