Questions about maintenance?

on 1/9/18 5:03 pm

I'm almost 10 months post op and still in the losing phase. I've been on this forum for a year and a half, and I've read a lot of posts or comments about maintenance being harder than the losing phase. I've read this a lot. I admit, if I hadn't read this time and again, I wouldn't have believed it. I had thought, maintenance would be easier....

I would love to hear from people who are in maintenance and share their experiences and any suggestions/advice they wish to share for successful maintenance.

Also, any tips about starting maintenance and how slowly or not to increase calories until I get to a calorie level that maintains my body weight. Also love to know what you maintain at, for the people willing to share.

Also, I know regain is common, curious for those who have had some regain after reaching your lowest weight, how much regain you had? I've read its anywhere from 10-20lbs.

My surgeon seemed to think I'd get down to 160 and put back 20 to 25 lbs to be in the 180s. I know they, meaning the doctors don't have to be 'right', I'm sure they go by averages in their practices when the give that kinda guess/information. I realize anyone telling me here what they regained doesn't impact what I may or may not gain, but I am curious. And yes, I realize there are some people who don't have significant or any regain, I would love to one of you lol

I appreciate anyone willing to share. Thank you.

Orientation April 2016 - Final approvals December 2016. Surgical Class January 23, 2017. Met with Dr. Reed February 7, 2017. Opti start date March 1, 2017. Surgery March 15, 2017 (Dr. Foute-Nelong).

HW 348 SW 316 CW 194

GW 160

VSG on 12/10/13

Maintenance is harder for several reasons:

  • Your sleeve has "matured" physically and can hold more food than it could immediately post-op
  • A lower body mass needs fewer calories to maintain weight, so you can't eat much
  • Many of us get sick and tired of watching our food and being hyper-vigilant, and our motivation lessens a bit

To find your maintenance point, try adding 100 - 200 calories per day each wee****il your loss stops. Stay with the high-protein, low-carb food, just try to have a bit more of it. From what I've seen here on OH, most people maintain at around 1000 - 1200 calories per day.

Personally, I'm working on about 50lb of regain. I got pregnant a year after VSG and gained about 45lb. I lost a little bit, gave up and slipped back into bad habits, and gained 20lb on top of the pregnancy weight. My son is now 2 years old and I'm really working to get my **** together, and I'm down by 8lb since Christmas. My original goal was 150, but I'm now aiming for 170.

I am the master of my own regain.

Professional geek, toddler mom, derby girl, author of the Five-Day Meat Test

on 1/10/18 4:44 pm

I would swear the post-baby delivery hormones have a lot to do with weight gain. I have 3 kiddos, I didn't gain too much from being pregnant, but did gain 40 after delivery for each of them. I wish I knew then how carbs impacted the insulin-hunger cycle.

Surgeon: Chengelis  Surgery on 12/19/2011  A little less carb eating compared to my weight loss phase loose sleever here!

1Mo: -21  2Mo: -16  3Mo: -12  4MO - 13  5MO: -11 6MO: -10 7MO: -10.3 8MO: -6  Goal in 8 months 4 days!!   6' 2''  EWL 103%  Starting size 28 or 4x (tight) now size 12 or large, shoe size 12 w to 10.5   150+ pounds lost  

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Amy M.
on 1/9/18 8:55 pm, edited 1/9/18 12:58 pm - Grand Island, NY
VSG on 07/30/14

Hi there! I had my VSG 3.5 years ago. I started at 322 and got down to my goal weight of 170. I'm 5'8. Over the last year and a half after i met my goal i put pack on about 15lbs. I typically fluctuate between 184-188. I would like to say it's because I'm in maintenance and it's just what happens once you stop losing. But if I'm honest i haven't been eating the way i should have.

Its too easy once you hit goal to fall back into old habits. You can finally eat more and eat your favorite foods again. My advice is to never act like your diet is over just because you met your goal. Keep the low carb high protein meal plan and just increase the calorie count a little. I know a 15lb regain is very common but I really beat myself up over it. After going through this whole process the last thing we want to see is an increase on the scale.

Now im focusing on getting back to 170. I find that the sweet spot for maintenance is right around 1200-1300 calories per day.


Age: 26, Height: 5'8" HW: 328, SW: 322, CW: 239  

Erin T.
on 1/10/18 7:45 am
VSG on 01/17/17

I've only been in maintenance for 6 months. I'm 5'7" tall and my goal was 145. When I hit 145 I started adding 100 calories per day, for a week at a time until I went and had a resting metabolic rate test done. My RMR came back at 1,540 calories - meaning that's what I burn completely at rest (if you never get out of bed). I've found that to be pretty accurate because I average 1,700-1,800 net calories per day now. I wear a chest strap heart rate monitor for workouts and I eat back some of my exercise calories (pretty much whatever ones I want to that day, which means some days I'm under and some days I'm over...hence the average for the week).

I have since dropped another ~15lbs below goal. My hope is that any bounce I have longterm won't take me above my original goal. Maintenance is already hard. You don't get to ever stop thinking about every single bite you put in your mouth. And, early out, there's the added stress of adding in additional calories without allowing yourself to make poor choices or go overboard.

I still eat low carb and protein forward. My macros are 20% carbs, 55% fat, and 25% protein. I still eat my 3-4oz dense protein portion before I eat anything else on my plate. I do not eat grains (bread, rice, pasta, etc) or potatoes (99% of the time, there is the occasional indulgence).

VSG: 1/17/17

5'7" HW: 283 SW: 229 CW: 130-ish GW: 145

Pre-op: 53 M1: 22 M2: 12 M3: 12 M4: 8 M5: 10 M6: 11 M7: 5 M8: 6 M9: 2.4

LBL/BL w/ Fat Transfer 1/29/18

TrendWeight Instagram

on 1/10/18 11:00 am

I am approaching 10 YEARS!!!! ( I cannot believe it!!) and I have not found maintenance that difficult. I do agree with the other poster that you cannot change your diet(or as I like to call it, new lifestyle) mentality. All of us got to this point where we needed this surgery was because we all looked at diets as a temporary thing, and we would were waiting anxiously to go back to our "old" eating habits. This can never happen, or you will get back to where you were before the surgery.

I can tell you that I do find maintenance easy, once you set up parameters that you can live with. I never really changed much of my eating style, just allowed myself foods I had sworn off of. Keeping in mind that I'm human and make mistakes every day with my rules, 1. I try to not overeat( I will still throw up every now and then because I WILL eat too much), 2. once full, I stop eating(don't wait for the fullness to pass to have a few more bites), 3. keep active( I now love spinning), 4. avoid carbs( bread and pasta are for special occasions, not for every day), 5. weigh myself every day. I found that my body found its own weight where I gradually stopped losing. My weight will fluctuate +/- 5 pounds, with the most I had ever gained was 9, and it was after a prolonged excuse of holiday eating. I give myself that 5 pound window and then I start cutting back on my vices.

I found that being accountable every day helped as well, whether it was on this sight, or with another friend who had the same surgery, it helped having someone cheering you on who was going through the same thing.

Don't believe your doctor's limitations. They are speaking from averages, not necessarily for your results. I lost more than my doctor expected, and did not have the bounce back either.

Just keep in mind that your journey will be different from everyone else's, but you will only get out of it what you are willing to put in. I have been here long enough to hear people make excuses for eating this or that, and the ones who make the most excuses are the ones who lose the least and gain back the most. When I had my surgery, it was not covered by insurance and I paid $21K out of pocket. I knew that if I was going to spend that money, I was going to hold myself accountable.

Keep up the good work!

Cecily C.
on 1/10/18 3:49 pm - CA
VSG on 02/22/17

I've been in maintenance since November 9th, so I'm basically still a maintenance tadpole. My goal was 170, I got down to 159 after hiatal hernia surgery last month and have been maintaining between 160 and 165 since. My calories are about 1700-1900 calories a day, and I hike 5-7 miles, 3 times a week. I'm 6 ft tall and that makes a difference. I weigh myself every day, weigh/measure my food and log everything in MyFitnessPal everyday.

My surgeon said that my weight loss would just stop and I wouldn't need to eat more to stop it. Wrong. I eat at least twice what I was eating while losing and sometimes more.

Ht: 6' HWEver: 338 StartW: 282.8 SurgeryW: 268.9 GW: 170 CW: 162.4

Pre-Op:-17 M1:-17.8 M2:-12.2 M3:-9 M4:-12 M5:-11 M6:-8.4 M7:-10.2 M8:-11.4 M9:-6.8 M10:-7

Goal reached 11/9/17! (37 weeks, 1 day)

on 1/10/18 4:42 pm

I don't subscribe to the notion that maintenance is harder. What is easier is to let complacency set in. I too read the stats on regain and elected to set my goal (195, the upper limit of a normal bmi for me) and subtract 5 pounds initially for some bounce back room. I eventually hovered at 188 for quite a long time, but alas periods or regain would pop up here and there. Most of them, once I hit 195 I would work on taking it off. I had a stretch there where I went 10 over goal... but I feel that it was related to the extreme amount of acid that I was experiencing (and not treating properly) that fed into the cycle of eating that I went through. Once the hernia was fixed I have again not had an issue with keeping my numbers pretty steady at 185 or so.

I am not saying regain is not very real- it is. Many do experience it, but many of us also recognize it for what it is and whittle it back down. I think the key is to not play ostrich and allow the regain to really pile up... at least for me there is a point where I know I am prone to just throwing in the towel. 10 pounds, 20 pounds seems doable. If I let it creep back up to 100 than it is unlikely.

One thing that I feel is harder though is dropping pounds. During my weightloss phase (a bit over 8 months) I lost steadily. I feel like even now when I return to the same calorie levels the weight comes off much slower. Fortunately I have experienced the benefit of what it means to just keep at it and the cumulative loss will eventually lead up, but overall I do find it harder to take regain pounds off.

Going from weight loss to maintainance- I added a 100 calories or so every few days and kept track of my weight closely until it stabalized. I continued to log diligently until I was able to determine what my magic number was for maintaining (1200 if not exercising, 1400 or 1500 if I am). This is a daily average though- some days higher and some days a bit lower kind of thing. Everyone will be different. We have one guy that doesn't pop in much anymore that lost as much as me and turned into a total gym rat- he maintains at around 4,000 calories a day if I recall correctly.

In the end it simply comes down to being consistent and if weight does pop on a bit to not ignore it.

Surgeon: Chengelis  Surgery on 12/19/2011  A little less carb eating compared to my weight loss phase loose sleever here!

1Mo: -21  2Mo: -16  3Mo: -12  4MO - 13  5MO: -11 6MO: -10 7MO: -10.3 8MO: -6  Goal in 8 months 4 days!!   6' 2''  EWL 103%  Starting size 28 or 4x (tight) now size 12 or large, shoe size 12 w to 10.5   150+ pounds lost  

Join the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker group for recipes and tips! Click here to join!

on 1/10/18 6:38 pm

I've been in maintenance for about a year now. I completely stopped tracking food and measuring portions. So far, it hasn't made any difference in my weight. I do weigh myself practically every day and reel back on carbs and meals if it's gone up 2-3 lbs. I do walk over 10,000 steps a day though so I think that really helps keep my weight in check.

I'm maintaining between 158-160 and I'm 5'10" (Typically a size 6 or 8). This year I'm thinking of trying to get down to around 150 but I'd also like to incorporate more muscle-building into my routine so we'll see!

Overall, I haven't found maintenance difficult but I haven't had to be as strict with myself to maintain. I can definitely eat much, much more than previously, so I've gotten really into salads. When the scale creeps up 1-2 lbs, I go back to prioritizing proteins, fats and veggies - but not portions or calorie counting. This method has worked for me so far.

VSG: 06/24/15 // Age: 34 // Height: 5'10" // Lost so far: 190 lbs

HW: 348 (before 2 week pre-op diet) // SW: 326 // CW: 158

TT/Lipo & BL/BA: 07/21/17 with Dr. Reish (NYC)

Unconventional Sleever & Low-Carb Lifer

on 1/12/18 8:33 pm - CA

I, likewise, haven't found maintenance to be all that difficult, but for me it hasn't been a big change from what I had been doing before - my diet now is much the same as it was during loss, and even before. I never subscribed to the notion that there should be "diet" or "weightloss" foods and "maintenance" foods (as in "you shouldn't have that until maintenance....') since if a food has the nutritional value to be on the maintenance menu, why shouldn't be on the loss menu as well? The only reason was that some things are of a high enough caloric density that the amount allowed within the caloric budget just didn't allow a viable amount to be worthwhile. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, root vegetables, etc. were all on the non-protein side of the menu without regard to them having "too many carbs" or "too much fat" (the caloric budget took care of that.)

I fell into this after the years of observing the problems that others have had in dieting, most specifically the weakness tends to be the transition back to "normal" or "maintenance" after successfully losing a lot of weight. The same weakness exists with WLS as without, though things tend to happen more slowly, given the continuing portion restriction, the the trend still exists. The solution for me was to not do any kooky or fad dieting at all, but to work toward establishing the habits to provide for long term weight control rather than quickie loss, carrying the same basic philosophy through from the six month pre-op insurance insurance thing, through the post-op weight loss phase and into the long term maintenance and control phase; aim more for nutrition than "dieting".

I no longer routinely track my intake as our meals are pretty consistent, from a fairly regular menu of meals that have evolved to be around the same caloric value, so the tracking gets pretty boring and pointless. I do, however, still weigh most everything while serving up to head off portion creep. I go back to tracking if I need to make changes to my diet to reduce a bit or if nutritional changes are needed.

The above video has a good description of the meal volume gain that one can expect over time - it is certainly consistent with my experience. You don't necessarily have to follow his diet guidelines (though I am not far off of it, being more veg first in my diet) but he is one of the few baratric surgeons that I have seen that addresses this problem, and offers a solution. It is at least something to think about, and try leaving some flexibility in your long term diet to accommodate this reality. Veg is good for weight control as it is generally a low caloric density for its bulk, so it works well for this purpose. The high fat diets that are the rage these days are trickier due to their high caloric density, and it is easy to let things get out of control as volume increases if one is not keeping track of the overall caloric picture.

In finding your maintenance or stability point, you can get a ballpark figure by looking at your final month(s) loss rate (do an average of the last three months if the numbers are variable, as they often are - mine was stable at 10,10,10, but that kind of consistency is the exception rather than the rule). If you are averaging about 5 lb per month, that works out to about a 500 calorie deficit, so you should end up around 500 calories above your losing diet level; 10lb per month would be about 1000 calories per day deficit, etc. It's not exact, but gives a feel for how far one needs to go, and whether one should take the 100 calorie steps until you stabilize, as often suggested, or maybe a couple of bigger steps in there, too.

Another thing to watch over time is changes to your lifestyle and activity levels - these can creep in just like extra calories. If something notable occurs, make some adjustments ahead of time if possible. I have had three surgeries after WLS for plastics and orthopedics that would entail major changes in activity levels during recovery. In anticipation I dropped my intake about 20% to accommodate that change, and then adjusted things as needed, rather than trying to chase a regain after the fact. Injury or illness is one of the trigger points for a regain pattern that we sometimes see in these forums, so stay ahead of the curve.

1st support group/seminar - 8/03 (has it been that long?)  

Wife's DS - 5/05 w Dr. Robert Rabkin   VSG on 5/9/11 by Dr. John Rabkin