If you recently shed several pounds and have finally reached your goal weight, then you may feel nervous about the possibility of it all coming back. Fortunately, by keeping up the good work and finding a healthy lifestyle balance, you can maintain a successful weight.
A study reported by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who were able to maintain their weight loss for more than five years consistently engaged in “high levels of physical activity” while “eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends.”
“Moreover,” the study discovered that “weight loss maintenance may get easier over time; after individuals have successfully maintained their weight loss for 2-5 y, the chance of long-term success greatly increases.”
With these smart steps, you can keep the weight off and truly enjoy the new you.
1. Identify Your Reasons for Overeating
A common problem which often contributes to significant weight gain in the first place is overeating or binge eating. Food is often a source of comfort during times of stress or sadness. At other times, hormones, such as swings during PMS for women, can be “triggers” for overeating as they bring specific cravings, says Best Health magazine.
Depression is another common cause because “when people are depressed, they become physically inactive. And when they’re down, they turn to something that will make them feel better, often foods that can be addictive,” explains Dr. David Lau, the president of Obesity Canada.
Weight loss can involve an intense emotional journey as well as a dramatic physical process. It is important to surround yourself with encouraging friends, family and mentors to help keep you accountable and help you work through emotional issues along the way.
2. Eating Success
While losing and maintaining weight, it is essential to develop a diet which you can effectively continue eating for the rest of your life. Weight maintenance means an entire lifestyle change.
An important step to a healthy day of eating right begins with planning for success. Preparation is the key. Budget your meals out ahead of time so that you can ensure that you will consume plenty of protein and fewer carbs. Also, include plenty of healthy snacks as a part of the day.
Proteins from legumes and nuts as well as animals can help to stave off hunger that is caused by consuming too many carbohydrates. Ensure that vegetables comprise a significant portion of your meals and use fruits as healthy snacks.
An important trick is to not let your body become hungry as this can easily lead to overeating to catch up. By planning healthy but filling meals and good snacks in between, you can keep your body happy as you eliminate empty calories form your diet and watch your portion sizes.
3. Don’t Forget the Scale
When the National Weight Control Registry studied 5,000 participants who successfully lost weight and kept it off, their research revealed an interesting secret of success. 75% of the successful participants actively weighed themselves. Once a week, they stepped up onto the scale to check their weight.
Being conscientious about keeping track from week to week makes sense when you think about it. Weighing in once a week will reveal if your portion sizes have increased a bit or if you need to hit the gym more regularly. While it is true that during certain times extra weight may be due to water storage, a regular weigh in will give you a good average of how you are doing as well as motivation to keep up the good work.
4. Exercise Regularly
Just as it was a solution for initial weight loss, regular physical activity will remain a key to staying at your healthy weight. Professionals advise at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
This doesn’t always have to look like hitting the gym either. Perhaps Saturday is gardening day. An hour of raking, pulling weeds and planting can prove just as strenuous as resistance training. While it is great to mix up your routine with a jog on the beach or a walk through the forest, just make sure that you do have a routine of regular exercise as this helps your body use calories and stay fit.
5. Allow Some Wiggle Room
Because this new plan is a permanent lifestyle not a quick diet, it is also important to cut yourself a little bit of slack every once and a while. In many cases it is better to enjoy one small dish of ice cream than to resist it until one day you eat an entire carton.
Dr. Lau recommends the 80/20 rule: “if you practice healthy habits 80 percent of the time, then you can relax 20 percent of the time (but take it easy—one particularly unhealthy meal could undo all the hard work you did for the whole week.”
If you have eaten successfully all week, reward yourself with a glass of wine or other simple treat. But be careful to continue finding your balance so that you can eat successfully for the long-term.
Practicing these steps will help you develop a personalized health care plan and discover your personal balance of healthy eating and activity that will lead to successful weight maintenance for years to come.
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