4 Tips to Keep the Weight Off for Good
The hours, days, and months of hard work have finally paid off — you've hit your goal weight.
But now what?
A lot of people think once you reach your fitness goals that everything is just golden. All of the calorie and macro counting, the food prep, and the buying fresh ingredients all go out of the window.
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Maintaining weight is challenging. There are a lot of people who can lose weight — the trick is to keep it off and not gain it back.
So if you've ever lost weight but gained it back, these four tips can help you out.
Keep the Weight Off for Good
#1 - Keep Tracking Your Food
If you somehow lost a significant amount of weight without tracking your food, you need to start.
Logging food will take a bit of practice while you develop the best ritual. For me, I log things as I cook — the ingredients in my hand I log. Professionals suggest logging at least twice per week, but as someone who has lost 120 pounds twice (and still going), I highly suggest you log every day... including weekends.
For those who want to keep logging to a minimum, checking in occasionally can help keep you from slipping back to the old habits. If you can't be bothered to use an app or write down what you are eating, taking a picture can help you account for the day. It won't show you any sneaky calories you may have in there, but you can track your food choices and portion sizes.
If you are still on your weight loss journey and haven't started tracking, that's your progress killer.
#2 - Keep Practicing Mindful Eating
Unless you tried out some fad diet, you've started to develop healthier eating habits — you cut out most of your added sugars, and the majority of foods you eat come from nutritious sources.
If you aren't familiar with the mindful eating concept, it's basically a method of bringing awareness to what and how much you are eating. You also take into account how you feel before and after your meal so you can distinguish between emotional eating and actual hunger.
This is a great time to make notes on how foods make you feel. You shouldn't feel worse after eating a meal, so if you feel sluggish, bloated, or otherwise "bad," write it down.
Keeping your hunger in check by using a scale of 1-10 can help you better understand your body and needs. On the scale, "1" would indicate starvation while "10" would be equivalent to your post-Thanksgiving dinner slump. Aim to eat when you are around three to four on the scale, and ending your meal at the six to seven mark. You're satisfied, but not uncomfortable.
Try to stop and enjoy your food — eating on the go and when you are distracted can be a calorie-killer.
#3 - Don't Stop Exercising
Think of exercise as a preventative maintenance routine.
Exercise conditions your body and provides a wealth of benefits — this is why it is important to create a sustainable routine. If you've been consistently trying to outwork a crappy diet, you're in for a long ride unless you can adjust your calorie intake.
Just because you reached your goal weight doesn't mean you can stop unless you want to slash your calorie intake.
This doesn't mean you have to exercise like you used to. In fact, you can tweak your workout routine is it's just too much work. Now is the time to reexamine your goals and adjust your training accordingly. Find a new goal that you can work towards in the gym — learn a new skill like boxing, training for obstacles races, and competing in powerlifting are three examples.
If it's something you enjoy, you won't see it as work.
#4 - You Can Add Food Back Slowly
If you're reading this and you're still on your fitness journey, I implore you to start making better food choices. When I say make better food choices, I mean don't eat lettuce for lunch so you can have cake and pizza for dinner.
One unfortunate pitfall many fall for is once they hit their goal weight, they start enjoying the foods they gave up. Instead of finding foods they enjoy and perform better with, they jump back to their old habits.
The great news is, once you make these healthier food choices part of your daily routine, you can start out adding 150 calories back do your diet for a week. See how your body reacts after a couple weeks and reassess your intake. As your weight goes down and your activity level increases, you can play around with how much food it takes to maintain weight.
Don't fall back into old habits.
Picking up old habits and slowly the progress you worked so hard for can be detrimental. I'd say that is one of the reasons why many people say "I can't lose weight." They are right — if they aren't going to make healthier food choices, they will never keep it off.
When adding back calories, try to add whole foods. Instead of thinking "I can eat that brownie," think "I can eat an extra chicken breast. More volume will keep you feeling fuller longer, so stock up on veggies, lean meats, and nutritious fats.