The whether-to-move-on question is easiest in Pre-Maintenance, where it’s a simple black-and-white issue. Ask your patients these questions and give them the following answers:
Have you reached your goal weight and maintained it for a month?
- If so, it’s time to move on to the rest of your life in Lifetime Maintenance.
- If not, you’re clearly not ready to move on.
Have you reached your goal weight but have not maintained it for a month?
- Be patient a little longer and hone your maintenance skills.
- If you’re regaining or zigzagging back and forth, you may need to reduce your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE) to achieve and then stabilize your goal weight.
Have some newly reintroduced foods triggered cravings that are making it hard for you to stay in control or provoked other symptoms?
- Once you’ve identified these foods, eliminate them, reduce portions or frequency and stabilize for a month before segueing to Lifetime Maintenance.
- Do not move to the next phase until you are in control.
Have you reached your goal weight and maintained it for a month, but your ACE is somewhere between 25 and 50?
- If many of the foods considered acceptable for Pre-Maintenance give you trouble and/or your ACE is close to the number of grams of Net Carbs (50 or less) that you were consuming in OWL, consider the lower-carb version of Lifetime Maintenance.
Is your blood sugar more under control or have you stalled and experienced symptoms of unstable blood sugar?
- Again, even if you’ve reached your goal weight and maintained it for a month, you may do better on the lower-carb version of Lifetime Maintenance. This is particularly the case if you still have metabolic syndrome or symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Have you been unable to lose the last 10 pounds or to maintain your loss or are still heavier than you want to be?
- Assuming that your goal weight is reasonable and you’re frustrated, you may decide to take a vacation from weight loss and go directly to Lifetime Maintenance. Once you’ve maintained your weight for six months, you can return to Pre-Maintenance. If you’ve regained more than a couple of pounds, start again in OWL, before moving to Pre-Maintenance when you’re again 10 pounds from your goal. You’ll need to wait six months because yo-yo dieting can make you resistant to weight loss.