It seems everybody is on the same page when it comes to using FitDay to lose weight. But there's a lot of debate about what to do when you finally get "there"; you've lost the weight and now you're trying to maintain your new healthy weight. This is what is called 'maintenance'.
I am of the opinion that FitDay should be used for maintenance. Why abandon something that works? It's estimated that more than 80% of people do after 2 years, so why risk putting the weight back on after all the hard work and perhaps even the money you've spent shedding pounds? I believe the wisest approach would be to set a new weight goal at your current weight.
Step 1: When to stop losing?
The first question is, when should I stop
losing weight? The FD BMI chart should be a great indicator, but there are also other resources out there. I like this "Ideal Body Weight" calculator: Know your ideal body weight
For me, this calculator says my ideal weight is 143 pounds, but I'm comfortable at my current 145.
The tricky part is, how many calories should you be eating for maintenance?
Step 2: Check and possibly adjust your Lifestyle Setting
Let's use 145 pounds as the example for our maintenance weight. With FD, I enter 145 as my goal weight for the next two months (the FD program will allow me to enter my current weight as a goal, but anything higher will be rejected). FD then displays 2375 calories as maintenance calories (MC's). This was using the "Mostly Seated With Some Movement" lifestyle setting. But this just seems like too many calories. Even if I add in sleep as an activity, the MC's still seem too high (2022). This is where an alternate resource comes in handy:
Tool: Calorie calculator - MayoClinic.com
This calculator tells me that with the "somewhat active" setting, my MC's should be 1950 a day. I currently exercise 2-3 times a week so the activity level for this calculator is appropriate. 1950 seems like a more realistic number.
Now, let's go back to FD and adjust the Lifestyle setting so the output is more in line with the Mayo number. I lower the BMR lifestyle to the "Seated all day" setting and now FD says my MC's are 2072. Still not the 1950 calories compared to the Mayo calculator.
Step 3: Unless "sedentary" add in sleep
This is where I add in sleep as an activity
. Many FD members agree that adding in sleep as a daily activity will produce a more accurate BMR Should you calculate sleep as an activity???
When I enter 8 hours of sleep using the "Seated all day" lifestyle setting, it produces a more realistic 1820 MC's, very close to the Mayo number.
When I do a check with FD for the "Sedentary" lifestyle, the number (without sleep) comes out to be 1772 calories a day to maintain 145 pounds. This is only 22 calories higher than Mayo (1750) using the "Inactive" BMR. So I tend to believe that indeed 1820 is the realistic MC's for me, exercising 2-3 times a week. But wait! "I thought you just said that sleep should be included as an activity!"
I did, but...
...to complicate matters, when I add in 8 hours of sleep to the FD Sedentary setting I get 1618 MC's. This is much lower than the Mayo number (1750). So I'm concluding that if you are sedentary/inactive, DO NOT add sleep as an activity for FD, but if you are somewhat active (or above) then you should add in sleep!
To support this conclusion I performed the following check: the highest Mayo setting for me is "Very Active" (2450 MC's) and when I use FD's highest setting of Strenuous along with adding in sleep as an activity, the FD MC comes out to be 2427. Pretty darn close. But without sleep, the Strenuous BMR would allow me a whopping 2985 MC's. So once again adding in sleep as an activity for FitDay works well for the lifestyle settings except
Step 4: Create a "Custom Nutrition Goal" for Calories
In step 3 above, it was determined that 1820 calories is the most realistic number for MC's, and this is using the "Seated all day" lifestyle setting along with adding in daily sleep as an activity. This is the lowest number for MC's because exercise has not been factored in. So how much can I eat on days when I jog 4 miles? When I add in the 4 mile jog to my activities, the Calories Burned comes out to be 2091 total. This would be my maximum MC's for days when I jog.
So now that I know my upper and lower MC's, I can create a Custom Nutrition Goal to remind me what these two targets are in order to stay within these ranges. I know that if I don't exercise that I can eat 1820 on a given day, and when I do jog I can eat up to 2091 calories. But as long as I'm jogging 3 times in any given week, and my calories for the week averages out to 1936 ([2091x3 + 1820x4]/7 days = 1936), I can have a little flexibility as to my daily caloric intake.
Step 5: Monitor daily Calorie Balance carefully OR monitor weekly calorie average carefully (while maintaining your exercise level)
"The Exercise Bonus": Only while under maintenance do I consider exercise as a calorie "bonus". When you're in the losing weight mode, my advice is to focus on your daily calories goals and take any exercise that you do as an aid to help you achieve your goal faster
. That's what worked for me Final goal graph
Of course if you're doing a lot of exercise AND losing weight at the same time, you must also be cautious enough to eat enough calories so you don't go on a plateau.
But now that you're on maintenance, I believe exercise can now be considered a bonus. The days that you exercise you can eat more calories; that's the bonus! And how many more calories can you consume? This is where you keep a close eye on your Calorie Balance
. On days that you workout you'll see that the calories you can have is increased.
The alternative to being so regimented in following the daily Calorie Balance would be as I suggested above in Step 4, and that is to know that since you're going to exercise during the week you just need to make sure that your calorie average is maintained for the week
; it's not important for you to watch your calorie balance on a daily basis if you decide to take this route.
Additional Maintenance Tips:
- Continue with all the good eating habits that got you here in the first place.
- Continue to weigh yourself weekly.
- Change your lifestyle setting if things change.
- Keep close track of your Calorie Balance to monitor calories daily; or hit your average calories if you're monitoring your MC's on a weekly basis.
- After a month of doing everything right, assess how your maintenance has gone. If you've gained a little or lost a little, you'll probably want to adjust your Custom Nutrition Goal for Calories
- Continue the process by setting new Maintenance Goal weights.