To try and shorten it and simplify as much as possible, there is really what I would consider three key pillars to maintaining [our results] in the long-term.
The first is developing a good routine of regular exercise. Whether it be cardio or ideally with at least some strength training, because then you can keep your metabolism revved up and working in your favor to burn extra calories. As evidenced by the fact that you’re eating almost 1800 calories and weighing less than you were when we first started.
And that leads to the second pillar, which I think is the long-term aspect that a lot of people miss. This gradual process of reviving your metabolism and slowly increasing the calories, in addition to the strength training, to realize what I would call our, “maximum maintenance potential.” Maximum maintenance potential is the maximum number of calories that we can reasonably train our body to consume before we start gaining weight.
What that does is even if we were to stop adding calories right now after this jump, and 1,746 was your, for hypothetical purposes, your maximum maintenance potential, then managing 1,700 almost 1,800 calories to maintain your bodyweight diet over the span of the rest of your life is way easier than 1,500 calories or 1,400 calories. It gives you so much more wiggle room. Even if you ate a normal 1,400 calorie diet, like what you were used to, that still gives you almost 400 calories if you want a dessert at the end of the day, every now and again. So that’s the second pillar: trying to figure out what’s that maximum calorie goal you can have.
And again, the more strength training you do and the more muscle you have, the higher that number can potentially be. That’s how they intersect with each other.
The third pillar is understanding the order and priorities, nutritionally, of what actually factors into us gaining weight or losing weight.
It’s that hierarchy of the total calories first, then the amount of protein that we’re getting, and then understanding the carbs and fat ratios, and so forth. Ideally, we want to try to be optimizing each of those things. (Click here to watch the nutrition hierarchy for body composition change masterclass.)
We want to hit our calorie goal, which is the maximum maintenance level we previously talked about. Then hitting our protein goals so that we can maximize our muscle growth potential to continue to contribute to all of these other things we’ve been talking about. And then also find a good balance of carbs and fats so that we feel satisfied during the day and not hungry, but we also have enough energy throughout the day, and we’re just kind of optimizing our health.
But we also need to understand that when it’s a situation out of the ordinary: we’re on vacation, it’s the holidays, we’re visiting family, the family is visiting us, we’re going out for an anniversary or celebration or something, and we know we’re going to do something differently, that we know how to manage that appropriately. It involves being as healthy as we can most of the time, but then understanding, “okay, even if I’m going to indulge a little bit, I know I’m going to forego trying to get the right balance of carbs and fats. I’m going to try my best to get protein, but at the end of the day, as long as I changed some of my normal meals (maybe I make them smaller) my calories are roughly the same.” Then at the very least, or rather at the worst, we know that day is just “null” one way or the other because we didn’t hit our protein or it may have not been the healthiest food.
Sure, we may not be contributing to better health, but we’re also not detracting from it either. The net effect is zero.
And so all of these things intersect with each other: understanding how to optimize nutrition but also know how to prioritize the right things when we go off-script, and having that maximum amount of calories that gives us the biggest wiggle room with which to do that, and finally just keeping the exercise habits going so that we can continue to support all of those other things. This is the perfect arrangement of ensuring that we keep the results for the long-term.
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