I don’t think it’s overstating the matter to say the multi-billion dollar diet industry would like us to believe managing weight is difficult.
In reality, maintaining a healthy weight does not have to be complicated. In fact, it’s probably much easier than many realize.
In one study, 42 percent of participants claimed maintaining their weight loss was actually less difficult than losing it.
Another study clarifies this, by stating weight maintenance gets easier with time. These researchers noted that when people had successfully maintained their weight loss for 2 to 5 years, their chance of long-term success significantly increased.
So, what are some of the ‘secrets‘ of those who successfully maintain their weight long-term?
Well, researchers at Penn State found those who lost weight successfully did so by participating in a weight loss program, cutting back on sugar and carbs, eating healthy snacks, not skipping meals, and taking some form of exercise. Sounds sensible to me.
Interestingly, they noted that continually switching up an exercise regimen helped people to lose weight, but those who were able to keep the weight off, tended to stick with a more consistent exercise program.
The survey noted four strategies which were associated with weight maintenance. These were:
- Eating a diet rich in low fat proteins.
- Following a consistent exercise program.
- Rewarding yourself for dieting and exercising.
- Reminding yourself of why you need to keep weight off.
How To Maintain Weight
After weeks and months of following a specific weight loss plan, it’s understandable that you might be a little unsure of what to do to maintain your weight at the level you are happy with.
I think the biggest mistake people make at this stage, though, is to think weight maintenance is a free-for-all. If you can avoid that line of thinking, maintenance will be a lot easier.
It’s so important not to go back to eating unhealthy foods again, when you get to your target weight. This is often what people do, and it ultimately ends in a yo-yo dieting cycle, that is never ending.
So, whatever you did to lose weight is what you should continue to do to maintain your weigh (with a few small adjustments).
So, here are some simple steps on how to maintain weight at a level you are happy with.
6 Step Plan To Weight Maintenance
If you haven’t done so already, make a record of your weight and whatever other body measurements you are keeping a note of.
It is extremely important to do this now, so that you can see how the changes you make in the coming weeks are affecting your weight.
I don’t recommend counting calories as a way to lose or maintain your weight. Instead you should focus on eating a properly balanced diet, rich in foods close to their state in nature.
Think in terms of portions of whole foods, rather than eating something because it has a certain amount of calories. See my article on why calorie counting doesn’t work for more information.
When you are eating in this way, you will find yourself less likely to overeat, and also that you naturally gravitate towards an ideal body size and shape.
So, rather than counting calories, keep your meals and snacks pretty similar to what you have been eating to lose weight, then simply add in an extra scoop of brown rice at dinner, or have another piece of fruit as a snack.
The key at this stage, is to make very small changes in your diet, then monitor how these changes are affecting your body, and take it from there.
After the first week of making these changes, you should weigh yourself again.
If you’ve lost a little more weight, make a few small changes to your diet again, as in step 2 — but keep it healthy.
After another week, weigh yourself again, and repeat step 3, if you’ve lost more weight.
It’s most likely that your weight will have stabilized by this point, so just continue doing what you’re doing here to maintain your weight.
However, if you have gained weight at any point, simply cut back a little, then continue to adjust your food intake very slightly like this, weighing yourself on a weekly basis until your weight has stayed the same over a number of weeks.
It is extremely important that you keep an eye on your weight increases or decreaes in the weeks and months ahead. Really, this is the ‘secret‘ to avoiding yo-yo dieting.
Whether you choose to do that using weighing scales, a tape measure, or the feel of your clothing, it is important to act immediately if you notice undesirable changes in your weight, before it gets out of control.
Remember, weight gain doesn’t happen overnight, so if you are monitoring it, you will be able to do something about it quickly, and therefore it is a much easier problem to deal with.
Taking regular physical activity is one of the strongest indicators of long-term weight loss success. As you know, exercise burn calories, but strength training exercise also increases metabolism-boosting muscle.
So make exercise part of your life, and try to be consistent with it, since studies indicate following a consistent exercise program aids weight maintenance.
I’d love to hear from you — have you struggled to maintain your weight? What lessons have you learned about how to maintain weight in the past?