How do you define weight loss maintenance? Is it a number range or a state of mind that dictates your weight loss success? These are all great questions that I get asked frequently, and in this episode, I’m sharing my thoughts on what constitutes weight loss maintenance.

Listen in as I share the different options and ways for you to think about weight loss maintenance so that you can decide for yourself what makes sense for you and your body. I also discuss why it’s detrimental to get hung up on the numbers on the scale and share other metrics that you can use instead to measure whether your body is in a state of maintenance – without relying on that scale!

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In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • The mind component to weight loss maintenance
  • Metrics to use to measure weight loss maintenance
  • How to determine what peace around food means for you
  • Why you should start thinking differently even before you reach your weight loss goals

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Read the Transcript Below:

Katrina Ubell: You are listening to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast with Katrina Ubell, MD, episode number 279.

Welcome to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast. I’m your host, master certified life and weight loss coach, Katrina Ubell, MD. This is the podcast where busy doctors like you come to learn how to lose weight for the last time by harnessing the power of your mind. If you’re looking to overcome your stress eating and exhaustion and move into freedom around food, you’re in the right place.

Katrina Ubell: Well hello there my friend. What an extra special episode I have for you today. I’m very, very excited to tell you something that’s a long time in coming. And we also have a great episode, I’m going to give you some really good information about weight loss maintenance and what that all means. But before we dive into that, today is the day that I get to reveal. Are you ready? Drum roll, please. The cover of my book. It’s a very, very exciting for me, for my team, for all of us who are involved. I was thinking back, when did I even really first start on the book journey? And it started with when an author friend of mine, it was at the beginning of the year 2019, and we were talking and she said, I just want you to consider the idea of writing a book.

Katrina Ubell: I am not someone who ever about their whole life has been like, I have a book in me or I want to be a published author. That was never like a deep desire of mine. There’s a reason I have a degree in engineering and not English. I’m happy to write, I think I’m actually decently good at it. It’s just never been something that I’ve super felt drawn to. So, I just never really thought about it. And then ideas they get under your skin. They get into those little gyrations in your brain, you start going. And what would that look like? And how would I do that? And so, things really started to get going at the end of 2019. I wrote a book proposal by myself and the beginning of 2020, I spent a bunch of time working on writing it and doing just basically trying to find an agent and it wasn’t really getting much traction on my own.

Katrina Ubell: And then I decided to hire a developmental editor to help me get my proposal even better. We worked together for the majority of 2020 and then it was like, boom, ready to go, got an agent, got the thing sold to a publisher. Just life started picking up pace and it’s just been in hindsight, such a good experience for sure. Very hard at times, it’s really required a lot of me. Personally, I’ve really had to grow as a human being in a lot of ways to bring this book to you. But I have to tell you I’m really, really, really proud of how it turned out. I can’t wait for you to get it in your hands and it’s pretty too. So, that’s really what we’re talking about today is the cover. And so, you can go see it if you’re like yeah. Okay. How do I see it? Just go to time, L-A-S-T T-I-M-E.

Katrina Ubell: So, there’s two T’s in there, last time and you’ll be able to choose the book seller of your choice to go place a little pre-order because I’m assuming and I don’t think it’s an assumption that, of course you want this book, right? You are definitely going to want this book no matter where you are in your weight loss journey, you’re going to want the information that’s in this book, for sure. It’s not just a compilation of what I’ve taught you on the podcast, in case you’re wondering, there’s a lot of things you haven’t heard before. And it’s just a really nice kind of package deal of all the information that I believe somebody needs to know to be able to lose weight for the last time, which is why the title is How to Lose Weight for the Last Time: Brain-Based Solutions for Permanent Weight Loss.

Katrina Ubell: The cover we went back and forth, I don’t have like a huge elaborate story around it, but kind of had some ideas, went back and forth. I know the team of the publisher, the art department they were trying to figure out some sort of graphic that could kind of show what we are teaching in this book and the message. And they just couldn’t come up with anything that we liked. And so, I just said, you know what? I think the title speaks for itself. I don’t think we actually need graphics. I think we need people to read the title of the book because the title tells you, you don’t need a graphic to tell you, the title actually tells you. So, we decided to go that route and tried various different options and I just really like the colorways on this one.

Katrina Ubell: And I just think it really, it kind of pops. And I’ve been told that when it’s all said and done, it’ll have a little bit of like a metal sort of shimmer finish on it. So, kind of hard to tell online, but I think that’s super fun and exciting. Like why not? So, please go on over to and have a look and celebrate with me. The thing is real. It’s actually happening. So, we are accepting pre-orders now. The book will be published on September 20th. So, that may seem like it’s a while away still, but it’ll actually be here before you know it. I actually really like pre-ordering books, especially if it’s like a decent amount of time in advance because then when the book shows up, it’s like this extra special gift that my past self bought for my future self. I’m like, oh my gosh, that’s right, I wanted this book here it is. I’m so excited.

Katrina Ubell: So, that’s happened to me several times where I’m like, what is this package? And then I’m like, oh, it’s here. How fun? So, if you would like to offer yourself a gift in the future, your future self that gift, then you can choose which retailer you would like to purchase it from. And you can find that over at, and you can also admire the jacket of the book because I mean it’s the little things in life, right? We have to stop for a moment, celebrate, enjoy things. It’s actually real. This is real. I’m just so excited for everybody who’s listened, I’m so excited for all the doctors and other healthcare providers who have been recommending this podcast to so many of their patients who need help with losing weight for so many years.

Katrina Ubell: I’m so glad that now you don’t have to be like, well there’s almost 300 episodes, but it’s still good and you should listen to it. And instead you can go, you know what? There is a podcast but there’s also a book. If you’d rather just read the book and get it in kind of one concise place, then that’s going to be probably an easier place to start, so. So, if you feel compelled, if you’re standing behind this message and know that a lot of people really need this work, which is what I believe, then of course feel free to share it with people in your network. And of course, if you see patients as well, please let people know, let your patients know that this book is coming and encourage them to make sure that they grab one of those first copies.

Katrina Ubell: So, fun. So, one more time, because the book is called How to Lose Weight for the Last Time. Okay. Let’s talk about weight loss maintenance. So, I had a really, really good question come in recently. And I thought, you know what? This is a good thing to discuss. We’ve never discussed this before. The question was, how do you meaning me, how do I define weight loss maintenance? Is it a number range or a state of mind? And I thought that is a good, good, good question. So, I’m going to give you my thoughts on it today. Ultimately you get to decide, so I’m going to kind of give you some options and ways for you to think about it and then you get to decide for yourself what is weight loss maintenance? And you think oh, there’s just like a quick answer and there can be a quick answer, but then also there’s more to it the more you really think about it.

Katrina Ubell: So, ultimately I think the answer to that question is that you get to decide what it is that you’re maintaining, right? Because there’s the mind aspect and there’s the body aspect. So, the mind aspect is going to be more like maintaining peace and freedom around food. And the body aspect would be more like making sure that your body is weighing the same number on the scale or within a certain range. And you really get to choose which of these or both, or honestly, none, I mean you can do whatever you want, but like which of these it is that you want to be focusing on and which you want to be maintaining. So, lets kind of dive deeper into each one of them because I think it’s important for you to even recognize or understand a little bit more what it is that you’re actually trying to create.

Katrina Ubell: So, often when we get started losing weight we just think, well, I just want to get to that magic number on the scale whatever you’ve decided that it is. And then we’re kind of like, and then I’ll be there. Yay. Sometimes we deep down wish that like the confetti would pop and it would just be like a party every day, so amazing. Of course, logically we all know that’s not the case, but we still kind of deep down hope that it is or wish that it’ll somehow our lives will be different or we will be different. Somehow things will be a lot better and they really can be, but you need to be really intentional and thoughtful about what it is that you’re trying to create. And so, I think that understanding truly what it is that you’re trying to create and which of these is most important to you or if you decide that they’re both equally important, but really understanding what it is, then you can go about doing what you need to do, so that it is what you create once you get to that place of maintenance.

Katrina Ubell: It’s not like you lose the weight and then you get there and you go, oh shoot but I didn’t do the mine part. And I still don’t have that peace and freedom around food. So yeah, my body is one size, but I still have all the chatter and all the drama and all the ups and downs and everything going on in my mind. Now I need to embark on that, which is totally a way to do it. There’s nothing wrong with doing it that way. You just might decide that you want to lose a weight and do that work at the same time, so that when you get to maintenance you are truly maintaining instead of continuing on that path. So, let’s talk about the first, which is the mind component that peace and freedom around food. So, what do I mean when I say that?

Katrina Ubell: I mean if I say that peace and freedom around food, you probably have some sort of thought in your mind of what that could look like or what that might be for you or what you envision that to be sometime in the future. And I’ll just give you some ideas of what it could be, especially if you’re like you know now that I think about it, I’m not really sure what peace and freedom around food mean. I’ll tell you what it means to me and what it means to so many of my physician clients as well. So, number one, your desire is in check. And so, what that means is the amount that you want, food or alcohol and or alcohol, if alcohol is a thing for you is in check, meaning you have an appropriate amount of desire. So, you’re not in a state of over desire where your brain is overemphasizing the importance of food.

Katrina Ubell: You have a place where I consider that to be peace. That’s the peace part of like your desires in check. You don’t have the chatter, it’s just food. It really is not something that is occupying an excessive amount of space in your brain. And so, what that also means is being able to just sort of take relieve your favorite foods. I think of this as more like the freedom around food part, where you envision a buffet with all your favorites, all the things that you tend to overeat, the things that you find yourself making exceptions for in the moment if you see that they’re available. All those things that seem irresistible, you have those all laid out in front of you and you’re locked in the room with them. Let’s just say, we’ll up the ante a little bit here and you really could just take it or leave it.

Katrina Ubell: So, often we’re like, I just can’t have it around me. Well, I just don’t think that is maintainable way of approaching food because you will be around these foods and you’re still then believing that this food has so much power over you. At the same time, you don’t have to lose the taste for those foods or hate those foods. Okay. You don’t have to not like them anymore. You just get to a place where you know if I ate it, that would taste good. Also, I cannot eat it and it’s fine because I can eat this whenever I want. And even if I can’t eat it whenever I want, it’s just food. It’s just really not that important. That’s the freedom, the freedom to be around any food, anywhere without having the worry of will I be able to control myself, what am I going to do?

Katrina Ubell: Because I’m all concerned like people are going to not see me eating or what are they going to think? Or like all the drama and chatter, right? Like all of that’s just gone. You’re like there will be food. I will check in with my body if it’s something that my body needs. And if not, I will not eat it because it’s just food. It’s just not that important. Okay. Another way to possibly experience this is by recognizing that you really feel your emotions instead of eating or drinking them. So, that means that you’re not emotionally eating anymore. You are not eating food or drinking alcohol in an attempt to avoid feeling what you’re feeling, in an attempt to essentially opt out of whatever is going on in your life at the current time. So, there’s some sort of discomfort that’s happening in your life and you’re trying to make it better or improve it by eating.

Katrina Ubell: Now at the same time, this is a little bit more of an advanced topic that we cover in our program. There’s emotional eating for positive emotions as well. And sometimes we really work through the emotional eating for negative emotions and we realize oh my gosh, look at me, emotionally eating for positive stuff too. And that’s another area that many people have to work through, right? So, instead you can feel all of your emotions, the negative ones, the positive ones, everything, food doesn’t even factor into the equation, right? Or alcohol. It’s just like two separate things. Another way to define peace and freedom around food is that you look at your food, the purpose of food is for nutrition and the occasional extra pleasure. Now of course, with nutrition, that doesn’t mean it tastes bad. Like you still eat things that taste good to you, of course.

Katrina Ubell: But the extra things, the things that maybe give you some extra pleasure, you just have them sometimes and you are ringing every ounce of pleasure out of that food. Say, you just love chocolate cake, right? And there’s this piece of chocolate cake, you’re not going to be rushing through eating that. You’re not going to start eating it when had a hard day at work. You’re going to be like, no, I am like, so looking forward to eating that thing and I’m going to make myself this beautiful cup of coffee because sometimes you need something to cut this sweetness, right? That’s what I’ve always found. Beautiful coffee or tea or whatever and you sit down and you’re just going to like savor this thing and you’re going to just enjoy every ounce of pleasure that’s in that, right?

Katrina Ubell: That I think is totally normal. Our human bodies and brains were designed to experience food on occasion in that way. And then the rest of the time, of course you’re eating food that tastes good for you, but the purpose of it is to fuel your body. And so, just circling back around to the desire part we want to make sure that food and drink have the quote unquote right amount of importance in your life. So, I always talk about it being like over desire is believing that food is overly important, it’s more important than it actually is. We want to get to a place where we have that right amount of importance. Now how much is that? That’s for each individual to decide, of course, but you get to that place where you’re like, you know what? Obviously it’s important, it keeps me alive.

Katrina Ubell: Obviously I have to think about it sometimes because I have to make sure that I have food available to me to eat and things that are supportive and whatever, but not more than that. There’s no kind of obsessive thoughts happening. There’s no intrusive thinking. There’s no just this constant narrative in your brain about what you just ate and what you’re going to eat. And was that okay? And how many calories was that, but also that taste good. And I want more of that. And this constant underlying narrative, like all of that is gone. It’s got that right amount of importance. I’m feeling physical hunger. My body needs food. Great. I’m going to get some, I’m going to eat it. I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it. Because it’s very supportive and tastes good to me. And then I’m going to move on to the next thing. I’m just going to stop thinking about food.

Katrina Ubell: So, those are just different ways of thinking about what peace and freedom around food could look like for you in weight maintenance. That is what you are maintaining. You are maintaining the appropriate amount of desire. You are maintaining your emotional life by processing the emotions that come up and not asking food or alcohol to deal with them for you. Okay. You are doing what you need to do if you notice that, like there’s a little excessive desire coming up here. That food feels a little bit more powerful over me than it has in the past or then I’ve experienced recently. The maintenance part of that is recognizing like, I’m going to do a little work on that. I’m going to maybe make sure I have that around a little bit more, look at what my thoughts are, and figure out why that has lightened my brain up so much.

Katrina Ubell: That’s the maintenance part. Maintenance doesn’t mean you get to the finish line and then there’s nothing to be done anymore, right? It’s not like, okay, I processed all my emotions now I’m done. No, because you’re going to have more later in five minutes, tomorrow. There’s always going to be more for you to do, so it’s going to be not something that’s again, intrusive or a part-time job, but something that you want to be aware of. If you notice yourself really want to eat something going, oh, that’s interesting. I haven’t cared that much about food in a while. I wonder what’s going on there. What’s going on for me not going, it’s the food’s fault, but going what’s going on for me that I don’t want to feel or experience that I’m asking food or alcohol to solve? And then working through that, right?

Katrina Ubell: Recognizing that yes, as emotions come up you’re going to want to process them. But also on a day to day basis kind of doing emotional hygiene essentially in the sense of like kind of clearing out things before they really become so overwhelming can be a really, really great and supportive thing to do. So, that can all be a part of maintaining as well. Let’s talk about maintaining a certain number on the scale. So, this is maintaining your body. And I just think that we get too hung up by numbers on the scale to be quite honest with you. I think there’s other metrics that are more important, but alas this is just kind of what we do. And so, we’ll talk about it but I do think there’s other ways of thinking about it. I do also know that your body changes as you age, as you maybe become more or less active, there’s different things that can change.

Katrina Ubell: And when that happens, the right number on the scale can change for you. So, it doesn’t have to be like, well, I’m only succeeding at weight maintenance if I hit this whatever magic essentially made up number and then weigh that for the rest of my life. I mean I think it’s possible to do that, but also it doesn’t mean that you’re failing at weight maintenance if you decide to start doing some strength training and you put on five or 10 pounds of muscle. You know what I mean? I think that there’s nothing wrong with that and then of course the number that you’re maintaining just changes. But if you stop the strength training and you find that that muscle is turning to fat, then maybe it’s like, you know what? I think actually the right number for me is going to be lower than this and doing what you need to do to get back to that place.

Katrina Ubell: I think besides that number on the scale, I think there’s other ways, other metrics that you can use to measure whether your body is in that state of maintenance. And that’s going to be things like how you feel from an energy standpoint. So, if you feel like you’re energetic, if you’re able to get through your work day and not feel completely beat, or like your knees are aching or your hips or your feet are just killing you or your back is just on fire. Especially if you have a job where you’re on your feet all the time or frequently, this is going to be something where you’re going to want to feel like, you know what? Like I feel like I did maybe 10 or 20 years ago, feeling pretty chipper, feeling pretty energetic, able to get through the day and still feel like I’ve got something left over at the end.

Katrina Ubell: That would be something that we’d want to be maintaining. How well you sleep. So, many of my clients notice that as they lose weight, their sleep improves and that could be because maybe they have either diagnosed or undiagnosed sleep apnea that improves or things like that. But just even overall, their sleep just it feels more restorative. They just sleep better when they’re at their goal weight, whatever they decide that to be. You might also find that it’s possible that maybe if you have any kind of chronic pain or other chronic medical issues, that those are better controlled when you weigh less. And so, you want to maintain that, you want to maintain a pain free life or a low pain life or have your chronic medical conditions under really good control and those things come from your weight being where you want to maintain it.

Katrina Ubell: And another thing I just want to point out that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with is you might want to just maintain how clothes fit on you. It literally can just be comfort in your body. I just like how it feels to live in my body when I weigh a certain amount. And that means that my clothes fit me a certain way and that feels more comfortable for me, but it can also be like even when it’s not close related, like I just like moving around my life and the world in a body that’s the right size for me. And I’m working on maintaining that right size body. So, I think the utility of the scale is if you find out what is that number on the scale that makes me feel energetic in the way that I want to feel that allows me to sleep the way I want to sleep.

Katrina Ubell: That allows my body to function properly. That allows my clothes to fit me the way I want them to. Then the scale can be actually very helpful in terms of maintenance because what it can do is it can kind of alert you to the possible slow creep that often can happen when we’re not really paying attention, right? Where we’re like I haven’t really noticed that I’ve put on any weight and then it takes a while before clothes don’t fit or some other indicator shows up. We start noticing, gosh, I’m really tired. Or my energy hasn’t been good or I’m having a little bit more of a pain flare up or something. Those things can sometimes take more time than by the time we get on the scale, we’re like oh my gosh, look, I’ve gained eight pounds or 10 pounds or 15 pounds.

Katrina Ubell: And we might not want to have to go through that much weight loss again, because we basically just weren’t aware. So, I think the scale is just really an awareness tool. It just helps you to kind of get a sense of where am I with things. If you find that you feel the scale is not friendly to you in that way, meaning you feel like it is so many people feel that it’s a judgment, right? And really what it is just reflecting your own judgments back that you have about yourself. Because the scale of course is just like metal and batteries and glass. And it is literally just giving you a measurement. There’s no emotions there. The emotions come from the way that we think about it. If you find you’re like, oh my gosh, that sounds really scary.

Katrina Ubell: Then of course you would want to do work on your thoughts about the scale and about what your body weighs because you really can have a different relationship with the scale, where it really is just a tool that you use to help assist you. It is not there to make you feel bad about yourself or harm you emotionally in any way or anything like that. This is something that we work on so much in our Weight Loss for Doctors Only program of course as well because I mean, it’s just how we’ve been conditioned to think. And so, many people still talk about the scale is a B and F the scale and all these different things. Obviously people can think however they want to think. I just don’t know that is really the most useful way, especially when it comes to maintaining our weight loss.

Katrina Ubell: So, as you’re thinking about weight loss maintenance, you should think about okay, well if I want both, if I want peace and freedom around food and I want to have a small weight range I am allowing in terms of the scale, what does that actually mean though? What does that actually look like? What is it that I’m doing? Think to that future self who’s there, what is it that I’m doing to maintain that? What does peace and freedom around food really look like for you? Just imagine it, even if you can’t right now and then just start thinking like okay, the person who has that and is maintaining it, what is he or she doing? And then you should start doing those things now. Okay. Because working to feel your emotions instead of eating or drinking them, you got to start working on that now, right? Having your food tastes good, but it’d be mainly there for fuel with the occasional extra pleasure, you should start working on that now, for sure.

Katrina Ubell: These are all things that you want to be developing and creating and focusing on now, so that you can get to a maintenance and be at that place already. And it’s so much easier to maintain because you’ve already done that work. All right. That’s what I have for you. That is weight loss maintenance. And just a quick reminder, if you’d like to see what my beautiful book looks like, How to Lose Weight for the Last Time, go check it out. It’s at, L-A-S-T T-I-M-E. Go check it out and if you are excited about this book like I am, please go ahead and place your preorder now. All right.

Katrina Ubell: Thank you so much. Thank you for all of your support. You all have been so excited for this book. And honestly it has really helped to bolster me during the difficult times, knowing that there are people out there anticipating this book and are really excited about it and I’m telling you it really makes a difference. So, thank you so much for that and I hope you have a great rest of your week and I’ll talk to you next time. Take care. Bye bye.

Ready to start making progress on your weight loss goals? For lots of free help, go to and click on free resources.