5 Tips to Help Maintain a Healthy Weight
I lost 100 pounds, but it wasn't easy. For 17 years I would start a diet. Stop a diet. Binge eat. Feel regret, and then start over on Monday.
Or, many times I would start over next month. Food tastes good, and I was weak.
Finally, I got my act together. Well, truth be told, my "act" was almost taken from me. By that, I mean my life.
Related - Is Obesity Really That Dangerous?
At a bloated and barge-like 346 pounds, I was stricken with fatty liver disease as a consequence of bad eating habits. This condition was driven by type 2 diabetes, which, of course, was driven by my love for Little Debbie and tortilla chips.
So there I sat, barely able to move — muscle cramps from head to toe. I was a ticking time bomb; waiting for my heart to spasm and seize like the rest of my muscles.
Feeling a sense of urgency, or whatever you would use to describe a state well beyond that, I found a way to lose weight.
Along the way, I discovered a few (very) critical life-changing habits; habits that made maintaining my weight much easier. This article contains perhaps five of the most important things I learned in the two years it took me to lose my weight.
Maintain Your Weight
Tip #1 - Don't Bring it Home
Just today I had a friend ask me about motivation. I remarked:
"Let's see how motivated you are to lose weight. I want you to stop bringing all forms of temptations and just food into the house."
Mind blown. The life rushed out of my friend's eyes like the unclogging of a stuffed toilet.
I could sense the hesitancy from across the vast void called the Internet. "OK, I guess I will try that."
An alcoholic doesn't bring booze into the house. A cigarette smoker that wishes to quit doesn't bring cigarettes into the house. And you... You will no longer bring junk food and trigger foods into the house.
If you want Doritos or ice cream that badly, make yourself work for them. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Trigger foods that are kept at home will continue to call out to you: "Bob! Bob! Come at me, Bob!"
At first, you will resist. Inevitably, you will succumb to the power of the call.
Tip #2 - Find Five "Go-To" Meals
Fast food doesn't have to be avoided entirely. With that said, your best bet is to be prepared.
If you're out in the concrete wilderness, far away from home, have some options available. Study. Prepare. Take notes.
Nutrition information is readily available for nearly every possible fast food feast under the sun. Pick out five of your favorite restaurants and keep a meal choice option in your memory banks; or at least stored in your phone.
This really isn't that difficult. Really. Here are my current five options:
- Subway - Chipotle Southwest Steak and Cheese Wrap. (740 calories, 41 grams of protein)
- McDonald's - Two McDoubles. (780 calories, 44 grams of protein)
- Blaze Pizza - Personalized 11" pizza with turkey meatballs, chicken, goat cheese, shredded mozzarella, and veggies. (820 calories, 42 grams of protein)
- Arby's - Greek Gyro (710 calories, 23 grams of protein)
- Wendy's - Two Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (740 calories, 68 grams of protein)
These meals should be reasonably healthy, by the way. Think veggies. Think protein. Think lower(ish) calories.
If you're driving around God-knows-where, at least one your "go-to" choices should be without shouting distance. Avoid obscure franchises.
Tip #3 - Weekend Balance
Balance is critical in life. Far too often those looking to make a lifestyle change swing too far and believe they must completely remove the occasional small snack, drink, or family dish.
Now before you rush out and make bad decisions, hear me out. I'm not telling to eat a lot of crap, especially if you are obese and have a considerable amount of weight to lose. This tip is more about maintaining a healthy weight once you reach your end goal.
I find one of the best ways to balance your life is to stay super tight and strict during the week and allow yourself some freedom on the weekends. SOME freedom. Not gluttony. Not binge eating. Not self-abuse.
During the week I meal prep and eat the same thing Monday through Friday. Some Saturday and Sunday I allow myself the flexibility to have:
- A few drinks.
- A cheat meal that isn't a binge meal.
- A small dessert.
- Maybe 500 calories more than usual. Sometimes 1,000 to 1,500 if I do an eight to 10-mile hike.
- Small amounts of things I wouldn't usually eat during the week, including sugar, white flour, bread, fries, fast food, chips, etc.
Come Monday, I'm usually up anywhere from two to four pounds. This is generally all water weight from a slight increase in carbs, sodium, and/or calories.
Come Wednesday or Thursday my weight is back to normal.
There's a solid balance to be found here. The key is to not turn family gatherings and date nights into binge eating and binge drinking abuse sessions. Have a bit more on the weekend, but about abusive habits.
Tip #4 - One Plate Rule
This rule might trigger a few of you, especially if your mom just invited you over for her world-famous lasagna and spaghetti (with garlic bread) extravaganza.
One plate. ONLY one plate.
Eat only one plate of food at a single sitting. And no, this plate shouldn't be piled as high as a skyscraper.
Many times we eat on momentum. Scarf, scarf, scarf. Plate of food gone. Before we can even bat an eye, we head for a second plate and begin the process of scarfing even more.
What happens next?
Halfway through the second plate, a feeling of UGH sets in. The bloat. The belly bulge. We feel stuffed. So, being reasonable human beings, we proceed to finish the second plate and then look for dessert.
This isn't healthy behavior.
Eat a plate of food and then wait an hour. Drink a glass of water. Nine times out of ten something magical will happen... You won't feel hungry in an hour.
If you do, come back for a half-plate of food. Not a full plate. Eat, and wait another hour.
This practice prevents overeating 100% of the time.
Tip #5 - Save Calories for Later
This is a big one.
A common mistake for those trying to lose or maintain weight is to overeat too soon in the day. You can quickly rack up the calorie count to the point where you have little left for dinner, and beyond. This is a recipe for danger.
Most of us are in decompression mode after dinner. We are winding down the day, have less to do, and are often sitting around watching a little TV, etc.
Boredom or inactivity typically leads to snacking. Combine that with far-too-few calories left for dinner, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Most of us are far better off eating fewer calories before 5 p.m. and saving them for later in the day. This way, you have room to eat a slightly bigger dinner, and maybe even a light second dinner or a bonus snack.
Save. Save. Save those calories. Fight hunger early in the day when you are stronger. This will help stave off an evening case of the "snackies" and help you go to bed feeling full.