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Weight loss is hard enough, but maintaining it can be even harder. In this article, we will outline everything you need to know about how to maintain weight after weight loss.
A big reason to want to lose weight is to improve your health. For example, losing excess weight can help improve your blood sugar, cholesterol, PCOS symptoms and thyroid levels. But all of this only happens if you lose weight and keep it off for a long time.
Weight that is lost and regained quickly does not benefit your health.
In fact, constant and big changes in your weight can cause problems.
This is the reason that weight maintenance should be given as much importance as weight loss.
Weight loss can be short lived if it is not approached in a way that will last. Some of the common approaches that result in weight being regained after weight loss are discussed below.
Extremely low-calorie diets
The most simplistic approach to weight loss can be ‘eat less’. A number of diets are based on this, like 800 calorie diets and diets based on meal replacement shakes.
They result in dramatic reductions in weight within weeks. But this is quickly reversed once you start eating regular foods.
A strict meal plan is an example of a restrictive diet. Such diets prescribe exactly what foods to eat, in what amounts and at what time. They will exclude many foods that you like.
As a result, you will be able to follow them for a short time only. After that the cravings for the foods you love will be too strong and you will completely stop following the restrictive diet. The weight that you lost is then regained.
The diet was not built to last
A keto diet is an example of a diet that is not meant to be followed long term. It is an extreme diet and will result in drastic weight reduction in a short time. It is not a diet that can be followed beyond a few months. After that, once you resume eating normally, the weight loss is quickly reversed.
You lost weight, but not fat
With many diets, the emphasis is on losing weight and not just the fat.
For example, when you follow a very low-calorie diet, the weight loss is mostly water weight, a little muscle and a little fat.
Only a small amount of fat is lost.
When you resume eating normally, the water weight comes back quickly. This is the reason for quick weight loss and weight gain in such diets.
Fat loss on the other hand happens at a slower pace, but also only comes back slowly.
The most important thing to maintain a healthy weight after weight loss, is how you lost the weight in the first place. If you lost it through any of the options we noted earlier, then it will be a challenge to maintain the weight. So the most important thing is to focus on the right way to lose weight.
It can be tempting to think that you will somehow lose weight and figure out a way to maintain it later. This does not work.
Weight loss using the right approach involves paying attention to the following areas:
This does not mean eating new foods or completely stopping your favorite treats. A weight loss diet is possible with an Indian diet and while continuing to eat the foods you are used to.
If you focus on these healthy habits as part of your weight loss plan, you will be building healthy habits. Continuing to follow these healthy habits will be the key to being able to maintain a healthy weight after weight loss.
Here are some tips that will help you stay on track with your diet and healthy habits even after the weight loss phase is over.
Have an eating schedule
Our parents and grandparents may have eaten 2-4 times a day with a fixed schedule. This has changed a lot and in our current lifestyle, we seem to eat much more often in a day.
In addition to breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner we end up eating whenever we feel like eating or whenever we see some food.
This means that we could be eating 5-10 times every single day. And this is where a lot of the unhealthy food enters your diet.
A simple way to avoid this is to have a schedule that works for you. It could be 3 or 5 times a day. Pick a number and stick to it. You will see that you avoid a lot of unhealthy foods this way or at least become conscious about how and when they are creeping into your daily diet.
This is one of the most important times to maintain weight as we are spending more time indoors where food is within easy reach.
We often confuse hunger and thirst.
We think we are hungry when we really are thirsty.
So whenever you feel like you want to eat, always have 1-2 glasses of water first. Sip the water slowly and then wait for a few minutes. This will usually satisfy you and you will realize you were not hungry after all. If you are still hungry after that, you can eat something healthy. But have the water first.
This simple tip can help you avoid a lot of snacking and overeating and help you to maintain your weight.
Don’t connect food and exercise
Food is not a reward for exercise. And exercise should not be a punishment for eating poor food. Connecting the two is a bad (and stressful) habit – so don’t do it. This is a big mistake we see people make often. For example:
Disconnect food and exercise and do both because it is the right thing to do for you. If you had a lot of junk today, get back to healthy eating the next day. If you missed a workout, be sure to show up for it the next day. This will keep you positive and focused on forming healthy habits. It will also save you a lot of stress and guilt.
This will help you to maintain your weight and avoid gaining back the weight you worked so hard to lose.
Never miss twice
No matter how good you are with your healthy habits, life will throw problems your way. It could be too much work, festivals, special occasions, or you have to travel for work. It will seem like the universe is plotting to throw you off track all the time. It is how it is. Accept it and stop aiming for perfection. Instead, here’s a tip that helps you overcome these situations.
Whenever unexpected things happen, think back to this simple rule: Never Miss Twice.
One poor meal or one missed workout are never the problem. The first mistake is never the one that does the damage. It is the string of repeated mistakes that follow that will cost you.
”Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit.” – James Clear in his book Atomic Habits.
You may not be perfect, but you can avoid repeating the mistake.
This is one of the most important points to bear in mind to maintain your weight.
Even if you have very good discipline, without some form of tracking you will find that old bad habits come back. We have discussed two simple ways you can track how you are doing.
Daily habit tracking
You need to do many things right on a regular basis to maintain your weight. For example, eating enough vegetables, fruit, protein, minimizing junk etc.
You need to track how you are doing in these areas. Without this, you might find that you are not hitting these goals but you do not realize it. Tracking these habits helps you do this and stay consistent.
This is the reason we track healthy habits on a daily basis in the Daily9 program.
Daily tracking gives you feedback on what you are doing right and where you are missing out. This helps you notice the mistakes and correct them quickly, before it becomes a bigger problem.
You can do this on paper, a sheet or a habit tracking app. The important thing is to do it.
Measure your weight (in kgs) and waist (in cms) each week. Do this at the same time each week.
Write these numbers down somewhere and see how it is moving.
This will help you realize when you are regaining weight and take quick action to correct it. While small changes are ok, you need to watch the direction of the small changes. Gaining a little bit of weight every 2 weeks is a sign you are slipping. So take action to correct this in the following weeks and get back on track.
While it is tempting to check your weight daily, we do not recommend it. There are many reasons for daily fluctuations in weight and many will correct automatically. But they will make you worried and anxious, which is unnecessary. Instead, measure weekly to get better feedback.
Remember that the whole point of weight loss is to lose weight and keep it off.
The key to maintaining weight after weight loss is to first take the correct approach to weight loss itself. Forming healthy habits that last is what makes weight maintenance possible.
Use the ideas in this article to help you maintain your weight and track it on an ongoing basis.
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