Losing weight is a task that many people take on regularly. Workout plans and meal plans are reviewed, a gym membership, some new sneakers, and gear are purchased, and we get started. If there is a personal and strong “why” behind what is being done, anything is possible.
During the beginning (if the motivation is there and the dedication) the weight starts to fall off (with a process being different for everyone and the rate at which one loses weight is personal), and it’s working. Then the goal weight is met, it’s all excitement, buy a few new outfits, get a makeover, etc.
And that’s it, right?
It most certainly is not it. Once the goal weight is reached, maintenance needs to begin right away. One must protect their loss, protect their new body and their new weight in unfamiliar territory. If the weight loss is not protected, and lifestyle changes are made, then the weight will creep back on.
Maybe not that quickly, maybe not noticeable, however, one day you’ll realize that those new pants are just a little tighter, that you get winded easier than you used to. The weight will come back if you don’t take care to work at maintenance, work at staying healthy, and keep that weight off.
Here are 6 tips for maintaining that weight loss indefinitely.
Tip 1: Find your why
This is really important. While you may want to lose weight for your family, for your job, for that party or wedding, that motivation will only last so long. There must be a personal reason, a reason for the self to lose weight because of the self.
Losing weight must be a priority of yours for it to stick. External motivators only work for a short time, internal motivators can work for a lifetime. If you want the weight loss to be maintained the inner motivation must take precedence over the external. You have to want to lose the weight for yourself in order to keep it off.
Tip 2: Get Moving
This one is easy, don’t sit down. Well, you can sit down, but the point is you have to move more in order to help with burning calories. The more calories you burn, the more weight you can lose.
Achieving this can be really simple, park further from the store, take the stairs, get up on commercials from your favorite shows, and play an active game with your children or pets (if you have any). Whatever it is just move a bit more. Some people use a pedometer or fitness tracker (such as Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.) to track what they are doing, but it’s not necessary. Just add a bit of activity to your day and you can easily increase and maintain weight loss.
Tip 3: Crash diets are not going to maintain long term success
Go slow. This is one of the keys for sustainable weight loss. A lot want to lose weight quickly and see results within days and weeks, but restrictive diets don’t lead to lifestyle changes. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff told NPR that “we do try this all-or-nothing approach, where all or nothing, you know, almost always bring you back to nothing” and went on to state that keeping weight off long term means making a lifestyle change, one that you can stick with and want to stick with.
If you start off with a restrictive diet you aren’t going to want to keep that up in the long run, so starting off with a healthy eating plan that fits your lifestyle, the one you currently live, will make it easier to keep the weight off for good.
Tip 4: Build upon changes slowly
In order to prevent discouragement, start small. Building on smaller, achievable steps can help make the process stick, and help it last. If you make huge goals all at once such as I’m going to start eating right, cut out all snacks and dairy products, run 5 miles every day, go to the gym at 5am Monday through Friday, etc., it will lead to lead to disappointment, and inevitably failure.
Start with one small change such as cutting out snacks. Then improve upon that and add some vegetables or fruits throughout the day. For working out start adding maybe 3 days a week and increase if you want. Small goals added upon will help to create lasting effects.
Tip 5: Anticipate and prepare for triggering events
When it comes to keeping weight off one must also understand that there are going to be times that potentially trigger falling back into old habits. According to Kevin D Hall, Ph.D., and Scott Kahan, MD, MPH “anticipating and managing high-risk situations for slips and lapses helps patients minimize lapses, get back on track, and avoid giving up.”
This is important because for those who are emotional eaters, planning for a possible triggering moment/day/week can prevent going back to what you used to do and instead find other outlets to manage the stress. We’ll never be able to get rid of stress, but we can change how we respond to it.
Tip 6: Keep going no matter what
There will be plateaus, there will be days that you want to (and do) eat all the cake, there will be days where working out is the last thing on your mind, and there will be times you might gain a few pounds.
Whatever the setback or the challenge is, push through it. Understand that weight loss is not linear, it will go up and down, but if you continue with the consistency and get back up, the weight loss will stick. While maintaining weight loss is hard (according to Rena Wing and Suzanne Phelan from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, only about 20 percent of people are successful), it is possible if you set yourself up for success from the very beginning.