I wrote in a previous article about the struggle I had with my weight. I fought the need to make a change with my mind, my emotions, and my actions. I accepted that I was obese, and had to make a change in order to live a more fulfilled and healthy life. I discussed the importance of being consistent, patient, mindful. I reviewed the benefits of enjoying the process and finding support.
It has been over 15 years and my weight has not fluctuated more than 5 pounds in either direction. I feel healthy, strong, fit, courageous, and full of energy. In this article I will review thoughts and actions that have allowed me to keep the weight off. I say these top 5 tips are now in addition to the top 5 I applied to losing the weight. Upon reflexion, I see these as the combined list as top 10 weight loss and weight maintenance tips.
So, how have I managed to KEEP the weight off?
- Are you really hungry?: We use food not only for nourishment, but also as a place-holder for feelings and socialization. It is important to ask yourself if you are truly hungry (and therefore need to eat) or if you are using food to overcome boredom, stress, fatigue, or thirst. We often feel inclined to eat at social events or gatherings even if we are not in need of nutrition. A key to weight maintenance is to eat in order to fuel your body and brain, not as a stand in for a feeling or for a distraction. When you feel yourself reaching for a plate of food...ask yourself: Am I really hungry?
- Being fit feels better than being lazy: Not working out may initially feel like a reward for sticking to a fitness program. Especially during the first year, it is easy to fall back into old habits of being sedentary. Remember that though it may be difficult to get started, being fit feels better than being lazy. Rarely does anyone reflect on getting through a workout with regret, yet we spend lots of time feeling lazy, ashamed, and disappointed when we miss a training session. Be prepared to dig into your “why” of wanting to lose weight because your body and mind will work extremely hard to convince you to not exercise/eat right. Finally, recognize that even though fit feels better and your body will have urges to exercise, there will be days when you have to talk yourself into exercising. This happens to professional athletes, weekend warriors, those with a set routine, and those just starting out. You are not alone and remember that some exercise is better than no exercise.
- Adjust your food intake: In order to lose weight you probably will have to adjust your caloric intake. For some, it means eating less while for others it means eating more. If you have reached a plateau examine your food intake. It is possible that you are now in better shape, moving more, and exercising harder and therefore now need a few more calories. On the hand, your body may require a slight downward adjustment to compensate for having to keep a lower weight.There is no one magic formula. As stated earlier, enjoy the process and be comfortable making modifications. Food quality may also need to be adjusted when compensating for food quantity. Higher quality foods deliver more nutrients that your body can use. As a result, you will find yourself needing to eat less which will help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Modify your workout routine: As with food intake, you should adjust your workout routine. The 20 minute stationary bike was no longer enough of a challenge for me as I got into better shape. It is important for you to adjust your routine as well. Try the treadmill vs a Zumba class, or incorporate a strength training routine into your program. Over time, your body will adapt to the demands you place on it. Try different intensity, different duration, or a different mode of exercise.
- Recognize detours and change your course: It may take some time to make exercise and healthy eating a habit. You may find yourself at a weight that makes you happier and healthier yet you see some of your old routine coming back. Recognize the need to change course. Don’t get too down on yourself if you go back for seconds or miss a few workouts, just don’t allow yourself to fall too far behind before making a change.
Weight loss is life long journey made up of daily actions. Be kind to yourself. Push your comfort zone. You’re worth it!