A healthy lifestyle is a long-term commitment and once you reach your weight loss goal, your good habits must continue. Stick with your nutritious eating and activity, and take note of these tips to keep the weight off for good.
Exercise is key for maintaining weight loss. Regular activity keeps you fit by building and maintaining muscle and keeping your heart healthy. As your weight changes, so do your daily calorie needs. Exercise will help you maintain the balance between calorie intake and output. Just like the weight loss process, weight maintenance also has it’s emotional ups and downs. You will have stressful days and motivating days. Exercise relieves stress, lifts your mood, and gives you a more positive outlook.
Tracking your food intake and exercise is as important after you reach your goal as it was when you were losing weight. What may change is how, when, and what you track. For example, perhaps you have no problem eating healthy on weekdays, but struggle on the weekend. You can transition to recording your food intake on days when you need extra motivation to stay committed. Now that the weight is off maybe you’ve set a goal of running a distance race. Your exercise tracking will likely transition from minutes to miles. It’s also important to keep tabs on your weight and record it regularly. According to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), 75 percent of those who have successfully maintained weight loss weigh themselves weekly.
Eat a Morning Meal
According to the NWCR, 78 percent of those successful at maintaining weight loss eat a healthy breakfast each day. But don’t let the word breakfast define your meal. You simply need a healthy, balanced meal. If you prefer a quick smoothie, drink up. If last night’s leftover roasted chicken salad sounds good, grab a fork. Avoid letting labels define what you should eat and when you should eat it. Choose healthy foods and eat what will satisfy you.
Plan for the Weekend
The weekends are often the most challenging time because you are faced with a more relaxed schedule and opportunities to dine out and attend parties. There is no need to eliminate all treats or skip out on fun occasions. Just plan for them. Adjust your food intake before and after a special occasion. Instead of resting on the weekends, consider moving your rest day to a week day. Use the weekends for longer workouts or more challenging activities that will boost calorie burn. These workouts will help offset some of the extra weekend calories you consume when you stray from a strict eating plan.
Don’t Get in a Rut
Regardless of your stage of weight loss, there is a risk of falling into a rut. This is especially true during the maintenance phase as you find the right eating and exercise plan for your new weight. Often when we find a breakfast or lunch that works and we eat it over and over again. The same goes for a workout time or activity. Before you know it, you are burned out and the temptation of a high-calorie food or skipping a workout become too great to resist. Adapting your plan, incorporating new foods, and trying new activities is an ongoing process when you live a healthy lifestyle. Excitement and positive change are the keys to staying motivated.
Your motivation soars when you first commit to a healthy lifestyle, but jumping into challenging workouts without training can put you at risk for burnout and injury. It’s important to gradually increase your physical activity so you stick with your workouts. There are a variety of ways that you can slowly build your fitness to reach your long term goals.
Tracking your exercise time makes it easy to gradually add more physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 30 minutes 5 times per week. The 30 minutes can be broken into segments of at least 10 minutes spread throughout the day.
If you are new to exercise, 10 minutes at a time may be all you can handle. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t complete a 30-minute walk right away. Start with an amount of time that is challenging, but that does not leave you exhausted. After two weeks, try adding 1 minute to each session. If that is too much, add 30 seconds. If it’s too little, try adding 2 minutes. Stick with that time for 1 to 2 weeks and then use the same process to add more time.
If your goal is to compete in a road race, distance is likely your top priority. Whether you are walking, running, or biking, begin with a distance that is comfortable, but that also lasts at least the recommended 10 minutes. You might start with a 1-mile walk or run. Each week gradually increase your total distance by about 10 percent. This is the amount recommended for a safe and gradual increase as your fitness improves.
The intensity of exercise can make significant changes in your fitness level. Intensity applies to all types of exercise and it can be adjusted in many ways. With strength training, it may involve the amount of weight lifted, the speed of the repetition, or the rest time between sets. During cardiovascular exercise, the intensity can be varied by speed, inclines, and resistance on machines, like elliptical trainers or recumbent bikes.
Begin with an intensity that is comfortable until you become familiar with an exercise. Then begin to adjust the intensity so that the exercise challenges you more. Increase the weight of your dumbbells, or add intervals to a treadmill walk by increasing your speed or incline. These changes will give you the ability to exercise harder and longer.
This easy bean dip is loaded with black beans for protein and fiber. Ricotta cheese adds more protein and makes it creamy without the need for high-fat sour cream. It’s topped off with just a little shredded cheddar to add more flavor. While it’s great with baked tortilla chips, you can make it an even lighter snack by using it as a dip for sliced vegetables like carrots, celery and cucumbers.
Yield: 6 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
1 (15 oz.) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup prepared salsa
¼ cup part skim ricotta cheese
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp fine ground sea salt
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the beans in a medium bowl and use a potato masher to mash the beans until they are combined, but still chunky.
Stir in the salsa, ricotta cheese, garlic powder, cumin and salt. Transfer the dip to a 3 to 4 cup baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the cheese over the dip.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the dip is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the green onions and cilantro, and serve warm.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 92; Total Fat 2.5 g; Saturated Fat 1.2 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 8 mg; Sodium 245 mg; Carbohydrate 11.4 g; Fiber 3.2 g; Sugar 1.1 g; Protein 5.8 g
As the weather improves, it’s time to add variety to your fitness routine by taking some workouts outside. It’s easy to transition from indoor to outdoor exercise, but the weather and type of exercise you choose determine what you need for a safe and effective workout. Take time to prepare for your outdoor exercise.
The heat, humidity, and increased sweating makes dehydration a greater risk during outdoor activities. Hiking, long runs, and bike rides can also take you further from a water source. Hydration needs vary from person to person, but the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) offers general guidelines for fluid intake . Drink 16-20 ounces at least four hours before exercise, and drink 8-12 ounces 10-15 minutes before exercise. During exercise, drink 3-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes. After your workout, drink 20-24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost. A sports beverage may be necessary during exercise for durations over 60 minutes. The ACSM recommends not exceeding 1 quart of fluid per hour during exercise. Be sure to pack enough water to meet these guidelines when you set out for longer duration activities like hikes and bike rides.
Dress for exercise success.
Moisture-wicking clothing is essential for outdoor exercise whether the conditions are cool, hot, or humid. Unlike cotton that can trap heat and moisture, this exercise clothing keeps you dry and cool which helps to prevent overheating. From shirts and shorts to hats and socks, be sure you have the clothing you need to perform well during your workout.
Outdoor exercise requires sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage. Look for sweatproof varieties that are designed for outdoor exercise. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater. Be sure to cover all exposed skin, and don’t forget sunscreen for your lips and exposed scalp. Also remember those areas you might expose as you heat up, like your shoulders if you roll up shirt sleeves, or the lower legs if you remove the bottom portion of hiking pants.
Assess your footwear.
Depending on the type of exercise you choose, your footwear requirements may change when transitioning from indoor to outdoor exercise. For example, hiking or trail running requires a sturdy shoe designed for the activity, instead of a standard running or walking shoe that is meant for the road or treadmill.
Take it slow.
Outdoor activities can be more challenging than the activities you are used to in the gym. Hills, rough terrain, wind, and warmer temperatures can make even a simple walk more difficult. Don’t get discouraged if you struggle to complete the same distance or workout time once you are outside. Do what you can, and gradually increase the time and intensity each week until you reach your goals.
The farmers market is one of the best resources for healthy foods. But if you are new to the scene, a visit can be overwhelming. There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you find the foods you want and get the best deals.
Choose your visit wisely.
The best time to attend the farmers market depends on how you would like to experience it. Arrive at opening and you will have the best selection and more time to talk with the vendors. If you like an upbeat atmosphere and don’t mind mingling with the crowds, aim for mid-morning or a couple hours after the market opens. If you are looking for good deals, head to the market just before it closes. The selection may be limited, but many vendors discount items to clear out their booths.
Take a full lap.
Take a walk around the whole market before you commit to a purchase. This allows you to research prices and prevents settling on an item that isn’t exactly what you want. Once you see what the full market has to offer, you can select the best quality for the best price.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The vendors are hoping to establish a relationship with you so that you will become a repeat customer. If you have questions about how a food was grown, how long it can be stored, or the best way to cook it, speak up and ask.
Look for bulk deals.
Often the more you buy, the better price you will get. Many vendors offer a set price and then discount the price if you buy 2 or 3 of the same item. If you don’t see these prices posted, ask if there are any bulk discounts available.
Know your cooking habits.
It’s easy to get overly excited at the market, which often results in buying more food than you can eat. Have an idea of how you will store and use the items you buy. Also look for options that decrease your time in the kitchen. For example, many vendors sell pre-chopped kale and bags of mixed greens that are perfect for salads and save on time spent preparing the meal.
Be open to new foods.
Take a sense of adventure and curiosity with you to the market. Ask about foods you are unfamiliar with and consider buying at least one new thing each week. Tasting new fruits and vegetables broadens your knowledge of healthy foods and will keep your eating plan from becoming boring.
Carry small bills.
Unless you buy all your produce from one vendor, you will be spending a few dollars here and a few dollars there at the market. Make it easy on yourself and on sellers by carrying small bills. This is especially important if you shop first thing in the morning before vendors have made sales that bring in smaller change.
Bring the right bags.
A few purchases at the market and your hands will be full. Choose bags that will allow you to easily carry produce while you continue to shop. Consider a backpack for heavier items like root vegetables. Place other vegetables in bags that can be carried on your shoulders. Bring flat-bottomed, sturdy bags for delicate foods like eggs and berries. If the weight of your purchases is a concern, consider a small rolling cart to make your shopping experience more pleasant.