Maintaining Weight Loss
I have been successful at losing weight and am almost at my goal weight. However, I've lost weight before and gained it all back before! I'm nervous that this is going to happen again. What can I do to prevent gaining weight back once I reach my goal weight?
Congratulations on your weight loss! As you enter the maintenance phase it's important to not revert back to the way of eating that caused you to gain weight in the first place. It's easy to think that once you've reached your goal weight, the journey is over. But you must remember that a healthy lifestyle is a LIFELONG commitment. Being overweight is a major motivator when it comes to losing weight. Once that daily discomfort of being overweight is not present, a major motivator is gone. To combat this, integrate gentle reminders into your day to keep you focused. For instance, start your day with a minute or so of focused thought concerning how far you've come, how good you currently feel compared to how it used to be, and how you deserve to be cared for and treated in a way that honors your body. This could be in the form of meditation, journal writing or positive self-talk during your morning walk. Pin up a before and after picture on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Mentally remind yourself that your healthy behaviors have resulted in a healthy you. Experiment with various methods until you find what works for you and your lifestyle.
Another main reason that many people fail in the maintenance phase is that they stop doing the things that made the weight loss phase successful - mainly, providing structure. Whether it was grocery shopping with a list, pre-planning meals, consciously eating, keeping a food journal or exercising on a schedule with a workout buddy, don't stop now! Don't get sloppy with the structure that made you successful because those are the keys that will enable you to maintain your weight loss forever.
It will also be important to keep an eye on your body weight and/or how your clothes are fitting. Get rid of the larger sized clothes that no longer fit and replace them with form fitting clothes that flatter your new figure. Although body weights definitely vary from day to day, any more than a 5 pound weight gain should be a warning sign that you need to increase awareness of your behaviors. Take a good look at what may have changed and act accordingly to nip it in the bud.
Finally, although the gift of health is a reward in and of itself, remember to also reward yourself in other ways for your newfound healthy lifestyle! Use the money that you previously spent on fast food and instead purchase a new piece of clothing every month, register for a hobby class, or treat yourself to a yearly beach vacation! Find a reward system that is meaningful to you and your values. Good luck!
Our expert, Dr. Sharon E. Griffin, holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in the areas of exercise science/physiology. She also holds a second M.S. degree in Nutrition and is a licensed nutritionist and an ACSM certified health and fitness instructor.
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