For many people, losing weight is just half the battle. After working really hard to achieve weight loss, they find that they simply put it straight back on again as soon as they stop ‘dieting’.
So how do you keep the weight off once you have lost it? What are the best strategies for weight management on an ongoing basis?
This article on weight management is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
Keeping the weight off
The chances of you keeping weight off after weight loss will depend very much on how you lost the weight in the first place. If you’ve been on a weight loss diet in which you temporarily restricted your calories, fat, or carbohydrate intake, then as soon as you start eating normally again, your body will work hard to replenish its depleted stocks, and you tend to put the weight straight back on – and possibly a few pounds more.
If your normal eating habits are what made you overweight in the first place, then returning to them after your diet isn’t going to change anything. Yet so many people are caught in this ‘yoyo’ of up and down weight.
Once you’ve broken your old eating habits by dieting, don’t go back to them, take the opportunity to make permanent, long-term changes to your diet and devise a proper long-term weight management regime.
Keeping weight off by exercise
Similarly, many people go out of their way to exercise while they’re trying to lose weight, then go back to the same old sedentary habits as soon as their ‘diet’ is over. Once again, if a lack of exercise contributed to your excess weight in the first place, going back to the lazy life will just have the same effect a second time. Weight management is more than just the odd weight loss diet once in a while.
Having found the time and the drive to exercise while you were trying to lose weight, try to keep at least some of these habits in the long-term. Just a little exercise can make a big difference to a successful weight management plan.
Best method of weight loss
One of the best methods of weight management is not to diet in the first place. It is far better to make sensible, long-term changes to your diet that you can live with, than to live on lettuce for two weeks then go back to burgers. You may not get the same swift results, but you will lose weight steadily and you’re far more likely to keep it off over the long term.
Introduce small changes, like swapping fruit for that chocolate snack, or adding an extra portion of veg to your dinner and having less of the meat. Cut back on takeaways and try to reduce your alcohol intake. As you integrate these changes permanently into your weight management plan, you’ll find that they become easy, without all the fuss of counting calories.
The same is true of exercise. Instead of blasting away at the gym for a month before your holiday, or to fit that Christmas LBD, try making a couple of weekly visits part of your regular week. Even little changes integrated into your everyday routine can make a huge difference. Get off the bus a stop earlier, take the stairs instead of the lift, dig the garden at the weekend – all these little tricks help keep that weight off. And if you have kids, find the time to play with them more often, there’s no workout like it!
Change eating habits
Learn to eat slower and stop when you feel full. Most of us were brought up not to waste food and to ‘clear our plates’, and that stops us from taking the simple step of listening to our bodies, and finishing eating when we have had enough. Try putting down your knife and fork in between mouthfuls to give your body a chance to enjoy your food and tell you when you’re full.
In the same way, you instinctively know when you need ‘some fresh air’ or to ‘stretch your legs’. This is your body’s way of telling you to get some exercise. We all think we’re too busy to respond, but would it really matter if you got home a few minutes later by getting off the bus a stop sooner? There’s always a good excuse to ignore your natural instinct, but if you listen to your body and respond, you’ll find you feel fitter, healthier, and able to you maintain a healthy weight management plan over the long term.