If you’ve ever managed to finally shed a few unwanted pounds then you know how tough it can be. Especially the first few. And the last few. And most of the ones in between. But that’s okay – you knew that from the get-go. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy. Weight loss requires knowledge, dedication, and consistency, and when your target clothing size is finally within reach it’s a pretty awesome feeling. Not least because you can finally relax a little. Right?
Of course what they don’t tell you is that maintaining successful weight loss can be almost as tricky as getting the darn stuff off in the first place. Sometimes it seems as though you’re body is just waiting for you to slip up and undo all your hard work – if you’ve ever let your hair down for an indulgent weekend after a week of being ‘good’, you’ll know how frustrating that Monday morning belly can be.
The good news is that it does get easier. In fact, the longer you’ve maintained your ideal shape the easier it is to stay there. Of course it’d help to know how to get to that point in the first place, wouldn’t it? With that in mind, here are my top tips to maintain successful weight loss.
1. Keep your activity varied. There’s nothing your body hates more than doing the same old stuff day-in and day-out. And there’s no surer way to eventually plateau and possibly even gain back the weight you lost (it’s also a great way to create injury). The best way to stay in shape is to mix things up – try a new class, get outdoors instead of hiding out in the gym, exercise with a buddy and follow their routine. You get the idea.
2. Remain strict on sugar. You know how tough you were on yourself in order to burn off that unwanted fat? It’s okay to loosen up the reins a little once you reach your goal, but it’s crucial that you don’t slip back into the habits that left you overweight in the first pass. Some of the big no-no’s are sugar in your tea or coffee, sweets or candies throughout the day at work (keep them out of sight), and desserts as a rule rather than an exception. If you’re going to let loose do it deliberately and occasionally, not day-by-day or hour-by-hour.
3. Surround yourself with like-minded people. You are an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and if that means you’re constantly sitting around being tempted by poor food choices then you’re in for an uphill battle. If you can’t beat ’em, this is one case when you don’t want to join ’em, so make an effort to find some new contacts. Great ideas for doing this include hiring a Personal Trainer, starting a lunch-time walking group, joining a weekly exercise class, and – of course – staying connected with blogs and resources such as this one.
4. Make healthy eating interesting. As someone who once survived almost 2 years on a diet of mainly egg whites, broccoli, tuna, chicken breast and sweet potato I can safely say that there’s nothing more boring than eating the same food every day. Fortunately I’ve learned a lot about just how unhealthy that sort of diet was, but that’s not to say I don’t get stuck in a food rut every now and then. It’s easy to keep things interesting by experimenting with new herbs and spices, exploring new cooking methods, and staying up to date with the latest real-food recipes. I’ve just created a category for recipes on this blog – I’ll be adding to it regularly and I know you’ll find it a great resource.
5. Weigh or measure regularly. After 10 years in the industry, the first 8 of which I kept trialling new assessment styles with my clients, let me tell you something with absolute certainty – the people who weigh and/or measure regularly stay in the best shape. I realize that there is a danger of developing a scale obsession, so avoid weighing more than once a week. If you really hate the scales, use a measuring tape around your waist or a favorite pair of tight jeans.
6. Be grateful and positive. The main person you have to thank for your weight loss success is, of course, yourself. But how often do you stop and pat yourself on the back for a job well done? Thank yourself regularly for putting in the effort (it’s a great motivator for continued progress), and be thankful also for the positive influences you found along the way. I find this an important tool in my weight management toolbox, and it makes it pretty easy for me to remain positive about what lies ahead. The worst thing you can do is start worrying about whether you can maintain what you’ve achieved, so remind yourself daily of all the good things you’re doing to keep your body just as you’d like it.
7. Stick to a routine. I’ve noticed that the people with the greatest physiques and strongest mental attitudes are those who follow a fairly strict routine. I’m not talking about bugels at dawn, but there is something to be said for setting a plan and following it. Some of the most useful ways to apply this in your life include diarizing exercise appointments (even if they’re only with yourself), pre-planning meals at least a few days in advance, food shopping at regular and set times, or using a weekly delivery service if you can’t get to the store as often as you’d like.
8. Avoid getting stuck in a rut. Nobody likes a weight loss know-it-all, not least the smarty-pants themselves when they realize they’re stuck in an outdated way of thinking and that their body is showing it. I credit much of my current knowledge to the amount of information I’ve been able to let go of over the years. There was a time when I ate and advocated only low-fat, with plenty of whole-grains and fresh fruits thrown in. When my exercise regime was cardio-heavy, and managing my weight was nothing but hard work. These days my approach couldn’t be more different, and the results come far easier, but who knows what the future holds? It’s important to stay tuned in to the latest health, fitness and wellness trends and do the appropriate research if something seems worth considering. The narrow-minded approach just could cost you success in the long run.
9. Let yourself cheat now and then – but do it the smart way. There’s nothing more boring than always doing the right thing, and there’s nobody less interesting than that friend who’ll never share dessert. Part of a healthy lifestyle is knowing when it’s okay to do the ‘wrong’ thing. Unless you’re a naturally disciplined person who intrinsically knows when to let go and how to get back on track, then I’d suggest you follow these rules for smart cheating on your diet.
10. Make it a priority. By sticking to a set routine you’re proving to yourself that your health and fitness is a priority. Of course there’ll be times when other aspects of your life intervene and your routine will fly out the window, but those are the times when you really prove how important your weight loss goals are. One of the toughest things to do is get back on the horse after your routine has been thrown asunder for a day or more, but it’s also one of the most powerful things you can do for your body and your self-confidence. It doesn’t matter how hectic life becomes – if staying in shape really matters to you, you’ll find a way to do it.
Life is Now. Press Play.
What do you do to keep the weight off? Let’s hear it in the comments section!
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