Maybe you’ve already succeeded at losing weight, or perhaps you’re getting ahead of the curve and learning how to maintain weight loss for when the time comes. Whatever the case, many people report that maintaining weight loss is more difficult than losing it in the first place. The following 8 tips will help keep you out of the weight loss/gain cycle and instead put you into the category of successful weight loss maintainers.
Engage in Regular Physical Activity
It’s no surprise that exercise is important for weight loss and overall health. When it comes to weight maintenance, people who incorporate diet plus exercise maintain more of their weight loss as compared to people who use either diet or exercise alone . The American Heart Association (AHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) all recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week to maintain weight loss   . Try to also incorporate more leisure activity and find ways to get active.
Have a Game Plan for Dietary Lapses
If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that you are bound to slip up on your diet at some point in the next 6 months to 20 years. Therefore, it’s important that you have a plan in place to deal with the times you fall off track. Successful weight maintainers have a plan in place that prevents inevitable mistakes from spiraling out of control. The great news is that you don’t have to be perfect with your diet to lose or maintain weight loss. Eating a diet that is 80% whole foods is sufficient to reach or maintain your goals. Don’t beat yourself up for messing up – just get right back on track.
Focus on Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation means you are driven to lose or maintain weight loss because it is personally satisfying. For example, you do it because it makes you feel healthy, fit, and more confident. In contrast, extrinsic motivation means you engage in an activity to reap external rewards or to avoid punishment. For example, losing weight to avoid hearing negative comments about your weight, or to impress another person. People that focus on intrinsic motivation factors have a much higher likelihood of weight loss and weight maintenance .
Monitor Your Body Composition
The National Weight Control Registry found that successful long-term weight loss maintainers frequently self-monitor their body weight . That doesn’t mean you should be obsessive compulsive about weighing yourself. It means to remain mindful about your weight and body composition. Don’t bury your head in the sand or avoid stepping on the scale out of fear of seeing weight gain. Weighing yourself once per week and taking body fat measurements once per month will help keep your weight maintenance in line without having to deal with the day-to-day fluctuations in body weight.
Practice Portion Control
A significantly greater amount of people who lost weight and kept it off tracked calories and measured the food on their plate . In essence, they practiced portion control and avoided binge eating behaviors. It’s no revelation that weight comes down to calories in vs calories out. And while calorie counting can be a tedious job, once you do it for a while you really begin to understand the composition of foods. So much so that you can typically start to eye your portion sizes to keep calories under control.
Learn to Cope With Emotions
Weight maintenance is associated with better coping mechanisms and ability to handle stress . Many people use food as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress, fear, or unhappiness. To maintain weight loss you will have to find better ways to cope with these emotions. Start with understanding your own personal emotional connection to food, and then create an action plan to deal with these feelings when the time comes.
Utilize Your Social Support Network
Most formerly obese women who have successfully maintained their weight loss did so by using their available social support . Social support comes in many forms. People can use internet weight loss communities to share information and experiences, and to get feedback or engage in friendly competition. You can also surround yourself with like-minded fitness enthusiasts by working out together and providing support and encouragement.
Have a Consistent Eating Pattern
Similar to weight loss, weight maintenance involves creating new, healthy eating habits. Your goal should be to get your eating patterns to be as routine as brushing your teeth. Unsuccessful weight maintainers eat more high-caloric snacks and eat during more situations that are unrelated to hunger . In other words, they were less routine with their eating and instead let their varying lifestyles dictate what and how they ate. In contrast, successful maintainers do more meal planning and are prepared for meal time scheduling conflicts. A little planning goes a long way in preventing the consumption of convenience foods.