Getting lean is tough work.  Not impossible mind you, just tough.

The scenario I give my clients in front of me is this—imagine you are going to come in, workout for 24 hours.  We’ll go make food together, it’ll fit your diet perfect.  The entire 24 hour workout will be perfect; perfect sets, perfect reps, perfect intensity…

What kind of results are you going to get from that?

Even a person brand spankin’ new knows they’re not getting much from this one day of perfection.

And honestly, it’s not hard to be perfect for one day.  Because you know the next day, you’re just gonna make up for it by being 50-60% at best.  And so the cycle continues, and you never fully change. 

The reality of getting lean is that you have to just  be really, really good (not perfect) for a long period of time.

So let’s say you mastered that.  You’re lean now, congratulations!  What now?

Now, it’s time to learn to maintain.  Here’s 5 ways you can learn to maintain your new, lower weight:

1) Practice throughout if you have more than 16-20 weeks of dieting.

It’s tough to stay dieting and losing fat for longer then this.  You also will get further away from remembering what maintaining is like. 

If you’re going to be on a 6 month or longer journey, it’s smart to program 2-3 weeks of maintaining your new, lower weight.  After that, you go back into dieting and losing fat.

2) Stop thinking you’re done once you hit your goal

Fat loss is a process. It takes time, it takes some patience, some science, and maybe even some failure. But if overall your fat is stripping off, then stop thinking that there is a concrete start and finish.  The reality is, you started your fat loss journey the first step you took toward getting overweight in the first place.

The point is, it’s a process. Recognizing and embracing that process will make maintaining much, much easier.

3) Rise out of your fat loss calories slowly.

Usually fat loss clients will be eating 20% less then they should for maintenance.  So, to come out of a fat loss phase, don’t just add 20% back tomorrow.

Add 5% of your calories back in every 5 days, so by 2-3 weeks you’re eating at maintenance.  Your weight might bump up 2-4lbs at a point but will then stop. 

This is one of the few times where it pays to be 100% robotic.  Pick a meal plan you can eat for 2-3 weeks, and then choose how you’re adding your calories back in.  Have a plan and stick to it.

4)  Find your maintenance calories so you know what you should be eating each day.

If you got overweight in the first place, the last thing you want to do is drop all the good habits that just got you lean.  Your friends and family might not understand, but they didn’t just strip a bunch of fat off to reveal a hard-earned body, did they?

You’re not being neurotic, you’re being smart and proactive. If you track, you can see where things get crazy and fix them before you have to re-diet them off your waistline.

For maintenance for a lean guy, I think bodyweight x 12-14 is good in calories is a good start, and 10-13 for females.

If you’re more muscular and tended to be lean and small growing up, the higher number will be better.

If you’ve gotten lean, but have typically been overweight or kinda soft most of your life, then the lower number will be good for maintenance.

5) Set new goals.

Clearly, you’re goal oriented. And you did it!  Great job.

Now, keep that momentum going.  Choose a deadlift personal record to break.  Or plan to run a mud race.  Do something that will keep you hungry for progress, and start training for that new goal as soon as possible.