Congratulations! You’ve lost weight- now what you don’t want to lose is the momentum in keeping it off. They say losing excess weight is the easy part – the hard part is not gaining it back.
Maintaining and managing weight loss is possible but it does take effort and willpower to follow key lifestyle behaviors. If you can repeat the mantra “I was successful at losing weight and now I will be successful at maintaining my weight loss,” you’ve learned the first trick in weight loss management. Here are 10 other tricks to keep your momentum going:
1. Weigh yourself daily. I’m a big believer in daily weighing. Several studies are acknowledging that people who weigh themselves once a day are twice as successful at keeping off lost weight as those who weigh themselves less frequently. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning with little to no clothes on and after going to the bathroom. Do not step on the scale again until tomorrow morning. Daily weigh-ins help you keep track of your weight catching yourself if you start to go up the scale by making adjustments to your eating or exercise habits.
2. Use the plate method - The USDA MyPlate is an easy way to plan balanced, healthy meals teaching you better eating habits. The plate method recommends half of your plate be filled with vegetables with the remaining half divided evenly between a lean protein and whole grains. Use fruit for dessert and don’t forget low-fat dairy.
3. Eat breakfast – Up to 80% of people who are overweight to obese do not eat breakfast. Skipping that first meal of the day slows down your metabolism causing your body to cling onto every calorie you eat leading to weight gain. Breakfast does not have to be a big meal – think oatmeal, Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. By having breakfast it also reduces overeating later on in the day.
4. Build lean muscle tissue – Let’s face it, the more muscle mass we have the higher our metabolism. This means we turn into calorie burning machines even at rest. All people of all ages must lift some weights if they want to get serious about weight loss and keeping the weight lost from coming back.
5. Plan your meals – Have you ever noticed that planning ahead for just about anything usually has better results? Same thing with managing weight loss. It’s when we don’t plan that gets us into trouble. We end up going through a fast food drive-thru or quickly put together an unbalanced meal. Having a meal-by-meal plan you stick with can guide you in keeping on track.
6. Practice portion control – Another very important step. Learn how to eyeball food for appropriate portion sizes for all foods. Most of us tend to underestimate our food portions and that means we’re taking in more calories that can trip us up with our weight maintenance efforts.
7. Don’t be afraid of dairy – I find many people to exclude dairy out of their daily diet for the simple reason they often feel dairy is fattening. Again, studies have shown when we include three servings of low-fat dairy a day we are more likely to keep off the weight than those who have only one serving or none a day. Women, you need dairy foods to protect your bones too.
8. Step up your exercise routine – Physical activity is another critical component to weight loss maintenance. But step back and ask yourself when was the last time you switched up your exercise routine? If you’ve been faithfully going for a 30 minute walk at a 3 mile per hour pace most days of the week and yet your weight is starting to creep back up or barely budging, increase the duration and intensity of your workout. Go for 45 minutes at a 4 mile per hour walk to bust up the routine getting that extra burn for your buck.
9. Stop stress eating – Stressful situations are going to happen but avoid turning to food for comfort. Doing so only amounts into extra calories impeding weight management. When stress and anxiety arise, acknowledge the feeling, naming it what it is – anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness, boredom – and then ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or is it just a way to cope with the feeling?” Most likely you’re not hungry. At that point, have a readymade list of other things to do besides seeking out high-sugar, high-fat foods – go on a walk, read, listen to music, call a friend – anything that keeps you from using food as a crutch for comfort.
10. Reduce screen time – We want our children to reduce screen time (all electronics with a screen such as computers, TV, cell phones, video games) and so should we. Sitting in front of a device with a screen means we burn fewer calories which can result in weight rebound. If your job requires sitting in front of a computer all day, try to get up and move every 20-30 minutes. In the evenings, turn off the TV and do something active helping to keep yourself more fit.