When the obesity crises became a national epidemic, weight loss became the number one priority for many Americans. Advice for how to lose weight is everywhere; 184,000,000 different web sites from Google, 3,619 Apple store apps, and countless books, magazines, and TV shows. With these millions of different resources for weight loss, why is obesity still such a problem in America, as well as across the world in developed countries?
It may not surprise you to hear that losing weight is actually the easy part; the hard part is keeping it off! Think of how many times you’ve heard of someone who lost 20 pounds by following the latest diet, only to put it back on, plus some.
According to research from UCLA, 80% of people who lose weight gain it all back, or more, within 2 years (source). When dietitians and other weight loss counselors preach that it is a “lifestyle change” rather than a diet, they mean it for a good reason!
As both a dietitian and someone who knows what it’s like to yo-yo with the same 10-15lbs for multiple years, I’m proud to say I have found a balance to maintain my weight for over a year and a half now!
Here are some of my tips for how to maintain a weight loss:
Weigh yourself a few times a week
Research shows that people who weigh themselves regularly are more likely to keep the weight off than people who don’t! If the scale helped keep you in check when you were losing weight, weigh yourself (and record it) a few times a week. You don’t have to get on the scale every day, but once or twice a week will hold you accountable, and help you catch any creeping weight!
Use the tape measure
If you think the scale may bring too many problems, or it won’t accurately represent your health status, use a tape measure instead. Take measurements once a week or so, and use your phone or a little notebook to keep track of all the numbers so you don’t have to try and remember them later.
Continue to track calories
If you tracked your calories while you were losing weight, it might be a good idea to keep that going. I’ve been logging my calories in My Fitness Pal for almost two years now. There’s been times when I’ve taken month long breaks, and those are the times I find my weight slowly coming back on. You don’t have to religiously count every calorie, but it’s good to have an idea of how much you’re eating each day.
Keep a food journal
Like the scale, if calorie counting may be dangerous for you, try to keep a food journal and write down what you eat daily. If you think it’s something you wouldn’t want to write down later, don’t eat it!
Read health and fitness articles
When you’re losing weight, your inspiration comes from the success you see as you get closer and closer to your goal. It’s easy to lose sight of that inspiration after you’ve lost the weight, so keep yourself fired up with health and fitness articles. I personally love reading from the Health and Fitness section of The Huffington Post. I’m also a big fan of the Health and Fitness section from Pinterest.
This may sound like a no brainer, but for many people the desire to keep exercising diminishes after they’ve lost weight. You may not be exercising for weight loss anymore, but you are exercising for health. Keep up the habits you made when you were losing weight if you want to keep it off; take the stairs, park further away in the parking lot, go for walks during your lunch break, and make exercise appointments in your calendar.
Keep your “diet” mentality during special occassions and holidays
The holiday season is coming up, which is a big weight gain time for many people. For the first time last year, I was able to keep my weight the same during the holiday season. My strategy was to keep my “diet” mentality- moderation, portion size, and exercise. There were times when I slipped up, but I pushed past it and kept afloat.
Realize you will make mistakes but you will not give up
If you get anything out of these tips, get it from this one. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to eat more than you should sometimes, drink more than you should sometimes, and have times where you don’t exercise as much as you should. What separates you from where you are now versus where you once were is that this time, you won’t give up. You will tell yourself that you’re worth it and you will get back on track.
If you’ve lost weight, what some of your tips for keeping it off?
Reader’s tips for maintaining a weight loss
- Plan in advance– bring food with you and select restaurants with healthy menu items
- The fit of your jeans– when they start to feel snug, it’s time to reign it in!