Congrats: You’ve suffered through a diet plan and have now successfully reached your goal weight. You’re walking around in your dream body and are feeling like a million bucks. You’re sleeping better, your jeans fit better, and you even have—dare you say it?—abs.
Well, we hate to break it to you, but the hardest part has just begun. The truth is, most people who lose a significant amount of weight go on to regain that weight within a year or two. Maintenance is something that few people talk about and even fewer diet plans set you up to see success with. So, you finish the diet and are now left to fend for yourself. Rather than slipping back into old habits, follow these quick strategies to ensure that you keep those pounds off for good.
Take Action Immediately
First and foremost, if that number on the scale starts creeping back up, take action immediately. The minute you see the numbers going up by more than three to four pounds, cut back on your food intake and boost your activity level.
Remember, it’s far easier to lose two to three pounds than it is to have to lose ten to fifteen. The longer you let yourself slide, the harder your future will be.
Whatever you do, don’t freak out over small weight increases. Slight scale increases on a daily basis are normal due to water weight fluctuations, so give yourself a two to three pound leeway in both directions. Once you move out of that leeway area, begin to make some changes until you’re back in your target range.
Increase Calories Or Decrease Exercise – Not Both
Another important thing to note for those who are just finishing up their weight loss journey: Either increase your food intake or decrease your activity level – not both.
If you suddenly eat more food and stop exercising, you might see a rebound effect. Keep one of those constant and focus on changes to the other. Then once you feel like you’re ready (your weight has been stable), you can begin making further changes.
Remember that it takes time for your body to adapt to a higher calorie intake again. Don’t rush the process.
Allow Yourself Indulgences
When you’re in the maintenance phase, allow yourself to (smartly) indulge from time to time. Don’t deprive yourself of foods you love forever—doing so is unrealistic and will simply set you up for burnout.
Instead, allow yourself the occasional treat. Love pizza? Once a week, treat yourself to a slice or two along with a side salad, and the next day, move right back onto your normal healthy eating plan. Remember, moderation is key, so focus on keeping portion sizes in check. This will help you cultivate a healthier relationship with food, reducing the chances of binge eating in the future.
Keep Strength Training
Last but not least, keep focusing on strength training. The more lean muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolic rate will be, allowing you to eat more calories on a daily basis without gaining weight. If you hope to maintain your body weight, weight lifting is the one exercise you simply do not want to give up.
So keep these quick tips in mind as you move into the maintenance stage of your weight loss journey. Think of it as a “lifestyle diet” rather than a quick-fix diet. In order to keep the weight off for good, you’re going to have to make major overhauls to your everyday lifestyle and establish permanent changes to your eating and exercise routine. Otherwise, you’ll slip back into your old ways.