I read all the time about people wanting to get leaner or wanting to get bigger or stronger. Less muscle, more muscle, less fat, bigger biceps, smaller butt... you name it. People seem to have all different ideas and seem to flit from goal to goal. For the past few years I have been this person. In 2006 I wanted to get stronger, in 2007 I wanted to get even stronger and now leaner. I competed in 2007. Last year, I wanted to bench 91kg and compete again so this meant getting stronger and even leaner!
Doesn't anyone just want to be? I hardly ever read about someone wanting to maintain their shape and it made me wonder: do people actually know how to maintain intentionally?
I guess I could say I am in this basket. I'm pretty happy with my current level of leanness and muscle size. To be honest, I would like to be a tad leaner so I can see my abs better but I'm not too worried about it and I definitely don't have to get there by a certain date.
As you may have read, I've currently worked out my schedule so I keep my diet pretty strict during the week (and at a deficit) and I relax during the weekend. This means I don't count calories, don't restrict portions and definitely don't cut out alcohol or fatty and sweet food. I don't however stuff my face; I just take what I want, a normal sized portion or meal and I'm happy with that.
However, last night (Thursday) I got home from work early, planning on going to the gym to get in a cardio session in an hour. Matt says the magic words "I feel like a beer". I immediately thought to myself, no... I won't go to the bar, I am going to be good and go do my cardio and make sure I stick to my diet and wait till the weekend for beer. Then I got to thinking: why do I need to go do cardio? I know I want to be leaner but I don't have a date I need to be lean by. Why can't I just relax and go out and have a beer and talk? I decided then that I would skip my cardio and go out for a drink. This is the beauty of maintenance. You can! Maintenance is give and take; one day you might have a rich dessert and the next you miss out on the dessert and have either nothing or a small piece of fruit. As long as you don't have more of one than the other you will maintain that balance. How thrilling and exciting it was for me to have this realization that I didn't have a schedule, I can make decisions to change my plans and make myself more flexible and I WILL BE OKAY. I have just been in this rut of goals for so long that I forgot the simple art of balance and give and take. Unfortunately, I see a lot of that in the forums I visit and people I talk to.
Even for you people that want to get leaner, this method still works. Add a little flexibility into your life and you'll still lose weight. Make sure you have more days at a deficit than at maintenance or surplus. You can still enjoy life, accept spur of the moment dinner or drink invitations and still look great. It might take you a little longer to get to your goal, but I can guarantee you will be happier for it!