Achieving a reasonable body weight can be hard work, and it is often an equal effort to keep it off. Research shows that maintaining weight loss long-term can be problematic, especially if you’ve lost a large amount of weight. After the euphoria of hitting a goal wears off, people often regress to earlier habits or relax too much on their changes which can lead to regain and then are tempted to reinvigorate strict limitations to re-lose the weight again – often referred to as weight cycling or “yo-yo dieting.” Stopping the weight cycle is a lifelong endeavor but is achievable if you set yourself up for success with these tips.
Make gentle changes you can live with. Design your diet for the long-haul versus over-restricting and cutting out food groups that you’ll start to miss before you know it. In fact, the best diet may be no diet at all, but a commitment to intuitive eating — a practice of mindfulness that allows you to reconnect with your body’s internal signals for what, when, and how much to eat.
Make peace with the slow and steady. Crash diets promising rapid weight loss are a façade. Rapid weight loss is typically lean muscle and water, not body fat. These diets often lack vital nutrients and are not meant to be a long-term way of eating, leading to weight regain when your normal diet resumes. Slow, steady weight loss (1/2-2 pounds per week) has proven to be more successful for long-term weight loss and maintenance. And, keep in mind, adopting intuitive eating will leave you focused on much more than just the scale — which is a good thing!
Don’t stress about counting calories. Stress can trigger weight gain – and that’s a vicious cycle to be in. Healthy patterns of eating paired with an active lifestyle allows calories to fall in line with your body’s needs naturally. Choose fresh foods, particularly vegetables, prepared with healthy cooking techniques such as baking, roasting, or grilling over deep-frying or other high-fat cooking methods.
Move more. Getting your plate in shape can only take you so far. Adding physical activity will ensure you stay strong and help reduce stress while also supporting energy balance. Find any type of activity that works for you and do it consistently. Not a gym rat? Try dancing, hiking, walking, team sports, gardening (yes, digging can count) and really, anything that gets you moving.
Maintain your support system. Did you meal prep with friends, go for lunch walks with coworkers, tell your goals to a loved one, or have other things that help you achieve your goals? Whether you know it or not, you likely had support in your journey. It is important to keep the systems in place that work for you to keep you accountable.
Check in with yourself regularly. People tend to regain weight when they least expect it – when they feel established and confident in their diet and lifestyle choices and stop actively engaging. Keep a food and activity log for 3-5 days periodically to make sure you’re still achieving the balance you found.
Showing up for yourself makes a positive impact on both our physical and emotional health. Making sustainable lifestyle changes is challenging work, but we know you’ve got this!