Whether you've reached your goal, or are on your way there it helps to know the keys to long term success, because you don't just want to lose weight, you want to keep it off.
The things you do while losing weight are what you need to do to maintain your loss. Yes, you have a little bit more flexibility in the amount of calories you can eat and drink, but reaching your goal weight isn’t an excuse to back off from the exercise and abandon your new healthy eating habits.
Whatever stage you're at in your weight loss journey, you can set yourself up for success. If you want the kilos to stay off for good, practise your healthy habits and follow these five tips for effective weight loss and maintenance.
1. Eat well, eat regularly
You’ll know by now that quick fixes, fads and diet tricks don’t work — long-term change is what weight loss is all about. And when you reach your goal weight and want to maintain your new shape, a balanced diet plan continues to be essential.
Choosing low-fat foods for 90% of the time — things like breads, wholegrains, low-fat dairy products, the leanest meats, poultry and fish — plus choosing at least five vegetable serves and two serves of fruit every day will help you stay around your goal weight.
Watch your drinks too because they can provide a surprising number of calories, from added sugar and syrups to fatty cream and whole milk.
It is important to always balance things out by doing more exercise the next day to increase your calorie burn if you overindulge and be extra careful with your eating.
2. Eat breakfast
Starting the day with a good brekkie is just as important as ever. Data from the US National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) — a large, on-going study that monitors the habits of successful weight loss maintainers — suggests that 78% of people who eat breakfast keep their weight off.
One reason is that skipping meals can make you overeat when you have your next meal and studies suggest that meal-skippers actually end up consuming more calories than people who enjoy three meals a day, along with healthy snacks.
3. Keep moving
Physical activity is one of the strongest indicators of long-term weight loss success. Not only does it burn calories and increase metabolism-boosting muscle, regular exercise also makes you feel good about yourself and helps you beat stress.
If you’ve used food to deal with stresses in your life in the past, now’s the time to find new ways to beat anxieties; exercise, breathing and relaxation techniques, plus challenging negative self-talk can all help you say no to stress eating. Always stick to your exercise program and aim for an hour or so of exercise each day.
One very easy way to fit exercise into your daily life is walking. NWCR research suggests that people who maintain their weight loss tend to walk twice as far as people who don’t.
4. Be sure to monitor
Fluctuations in weight are normal, but you need to keep a close and constant eye on them. In the same way you need to jump on rebounds when you are trying to lose weight, it's important not to let your weight get out of control in your maintenance phase.
Continue to check your weight every week just as you did when you were losing weight. Successful maintainers also continue to track their calories. Use your online diary two to four times each week, including weekends.
Keep monitoring your portions as well. It's easy for those sizes to creep up when you are not paying attention.
5. Live it and love it
Like with many things, the longer you practise your new healthy habits, the easier it becomes to maintain them. One day you'll find that your new healthy lifestyle is just your lifestyle. Making healthy choices will just be your normal way of life. That's how habits work.
Research backs this up. The NWCR study suggested that successful weight maintainers found it was easier to maintain weight loss than lose it in the first place, and that keeping it off gets easier with time.