Congratulations – you've successfully lost weight and reached your goal! This means you have achieved one of the most fundamental steps in the healthy weight game. Now it's time to move onto the next stage – maintaining! Although this requires just as much effort as weight loss, it's loads more fun and flexible. And as you gradually adapt to your new lifestyle, it soon won't feel like any effort at all. You'll maintain a healthy weight without a second thought – I'm going to tell you how!
Very high if you follow the advice below! Although statistically it doesn't look good – it's largely quoted that 95% of people regain the weight they've lost – it's absolutely doable if you stay focused. We have lots of Nutracheck members who have lost 5, 6, 7, 8 stone and gone on to successfully maintain this loss for the months and years that followed. So if they can do it, why can't you?
The exact reason why people regain weight is hard to pinpoint, and there are probably multiple contributing factors. A big one is that the weight loss method people used to lose weight didn't teach them the important principles of managing their calorie balance. This is where Nutracheck wins over other diets – it shows you exactly where you were going wrong, so you can learn what you need to change in the future.
I believe that another big reason people regain weight is because they assume their work is done when they reach target and stop being so aware of their food choices. Big mistake! Maintaining a healthy weight requires ongoing effort, even people who have been slim all their lives have to make an effort to stay in shape. It's about creating a balanced lifestyle in which your weight, health and physical activity are a point of focus. But if you get this balance right, it won't feel like a constant struggle or effort, it will just be easy and natural.
The good news is it is absolutely achievable to successfully maintain a healthy weight. Just follow this advice and you can smugly belong to that 5% forever more. I kid you not.
Firstly, the most important habit to keep and quite possibly the key to your ongoing success is to...
'Keep weighing yourself regularly and set yourself a maximum threshold'
Continue to weigh every week and have a top weight that you won't allow yourself to exceed – I'd recommend 5lbs above target. If you hit this weight at any time, switch to a weight loss calorie target and follow your food diary until you get back down to goal. It may seem like a no brainer, but as with weight loss, it's about balance and control. If you never allow yourself to go above your threshold, how will you ever be overweight again? Erm...you won't!
'Keep a consistent food diary for a while and then sporadically as needed'
Research has shown that people who follow a low fat diet, regularly eat breakfast and maintain a consistent eating pattern are more likely to successfully maintain a healthy weight. So continue to be mindful of what you are eating and how much. You can of course eat more than you did while losing weight, which is the fun part – but knowing how much and the best foods to choose helps you to avoid overdoing it.
'Identify your emotional and situational food triggers, and have strategies in place to cope with these'
Preparation is key here. Firstly identify the situations that have sent your eating off course in the past, then be aware of when these events occur. Have a predetermined plan in place for each scenario to help you combat it as soon as you recognise a 'sign'. For practical tips on managing emotional eating, see the Food Triggers option in the online Nutracheck food diary. There are useful articles you can email to yourself to help.
'Continue to engage in regular physical activity'
Being active on a regular basis has been found to be a factor in determining weight maintenance success. A progressive training programme will help to keep you fit and healthy and keep the extra pounds at bay. Also people who engage in regular physical activity, tend to have a healthier approach towards their diet than those who don't, i.e. you often feel like eating something healthier after a workout.
Here are some of our tops tips from the office:
Rachel – "If you know you have an event coming up, offset this with a few lighter eating days, or do a couple of extra gym sessions. It's just about balancing things over the week."
Emma – "Plan your meals in advance and always have healthy food ready prepared. Letting yourself get hungry and not having a healthy choice available is a fast track ticket to 'bad decisions-ville'. So know what you're going to eat before hunger strikes."
Ele – "Plan in advance for days when you will be tired. I always used to opt for the most calorific thing when I was tired, so I now have a plan in place. I'll prepare something the day before that's healthy but satisfying, so that I can eat it quickly the next day, when my energy is waning".
Sam – "For me getting rid of my bigger clothes was a great way to keep me on track. It was like a subconscious message to myself that I would NOT be needing them again".
Follow this advice, and you will be enjoying your new smaller size for many years to come!
Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.