Monday marked 20 days until 2022, which also meant it was check-in day. I weighed in at 146 pounds, 1-pound shy of reaching a 10-pound loss. Next Wednesday will be my final check in before Christmas, a total of 6-weeks following a caloric deficit.
While I could continue with my cut over the holidays, enjoying time with my family without worrying about tracking meals takes priority. Instead, I plan to follow maintenance calories for about 10 days (until January 1st). Being in maintenance doesn’t mean a free-for-all, it simply means continuing to implement lots of nutrient dense foods (like fruits and vegetables), larger serving sizes, and allowing for an occasional dessert or extra side of potato chips, all the while still remaining at the current weight.
Not only does this approach allow me to enjoy the holidays without feeling as restricted, I also believe it to be extremely beneficial for the metabolism as well. When I head into maintenance (aka “a diet break”) it will be after following a caloric deficit for 6-weeks that has yielded on average a 2-pound decrease every 10 days. In order to keep these results consistent over another 6-weeks I would most likely end up having to create a greater deficit in my calories. Reason being, that regularly eating fewer calories than your body needs can cause the metabolism to slow down. So instead, I will increase my calories over the next week and half (putting me in maintenance), and then on January 1st when I go into the 2nd phase of my cut, I can begin by decreasing my calories to where they were for this last 6-weeks instead of taking them lower. I hope this makes sense and helps put things in perspective.
Another reason that I find maintenance periods/diet breaks to be beneficial, tracking calories and/or macros can be especially mentally taxing, and for the newer tracker, completely overwhelming and exhausting. Taking these periodic breaks allows an individual to commit to a longer program while learning to implement maintenance calories around routined life events, like the upcoming holidays, or birthdays, and vacations. Breaks allow a person to feel in control, because they are in control. It is a scheduled break, and it too is part of the program. It is important to remember that while trying to reach a desired size or reach certain goals, real life events continue to occur.
Finally, in my personal and professional opinion, the number one, most important reason for implementing maintenance periods/diet breaks, it helps get a person into a mindset of what maintaining their weight will feel like when they finally reach their goal weight. This transition can be tricky for anyone that has been dieting for long-extended periods of time. There is almost always the fear of not being able to adjust to eating “normally” again, but when a person takes time to incorporate these breaks periodically, one can see that their weight can hold steady while enjoying and living life, normally.