You have finally managed to lose all the extra weight, or are very close to reaching your goal weight. Congratulations on your hard work! Now on to the next step- weight maintenance, and with that comes the big question. How do you maintain weight after losing it? How do you keep weight off for a lifetime?
That is not much of helpful resources that tell you what to do after you have achieved weight loss. Impressive amounts of articles teaching people how to lose weight are written almost daily. Very little, however, is said about how to maintain weight after losing it. What do you do when you lose weight and how do you keep it off forever? What do you do so that you are not gaining or losing any more weight once you have reached your goal weight?
Maybe the reason this topic is not usually discussed is that it is actually the most difficult part of losing extra pounds. You probably may have heard this before- losing weight is fairly easy, keeping it off is what is hard.
The best way to maintain weight after losing it is by exercising at least 3 times a week, watching what you eat, planning your meals, connecting with like-minded people or even help another person to lose weight. You should also continue to eat healthy snacks and eat as many home-cooked meals as possible to keep the weight off for good.
Let’s talk about all this in detail.
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Think of your weight loss journey like this. You have been climbing a mountain, but now that you have reached the top, you just don’t know what to do. Do you climb back down after all the hard work you put in or do you build a new life at the top? How do you stay at the top?
You need not only have the best info on how to lose weight and keep it off, but also a plan of how you are going to make it work.
My personal successful weight loss maintenance story
I have previously encountered this mountaintop feeling. I lost weight in 2014, a total of 20kgs (44lbs), but like so many people, I didn’t know how to keep it off and, 4 years later, I gained it all back! Worst of all, I went through a totally unrelated traumatic experience that made me gain even more weight.
I was ashamed of the weight gain, so I vowed to learn how to maintain weight after losing it, and I can proudly say that 3 years down the line, I have successfully maintained the weight loss!
How to keep weight off for good
How and why you lost weight is important in sustaining the new weight. If you lost weight to fit into an outfit because Mary’s wedding was coming up, then it will be harder to keep it off after Mary’s wedding day.
The same concept applies if you lost weight using quick diet fixes that are almost impossible to stick to in the long term. The reason being, weight loss, shouldn’t be a goal, a healthy lifestyle should be.
1 . Continue to keep a tab on calories or potions
It’s necessary to carry on doing what you were doing during your weight loss journey, although this time things will be much more relaxed. Don’t go back to the old ways of eating huge portions or excessive snacking.
While you are free to spoil yourself every now and then with calorie-rich foods, you should keep everything in moderation. High calories can add up pretty fast at the end of the week, and this is what usually leads to gaining a few pounds. If you indulge more than you should, the extra pounds will likely add up to 5, then 10 or even 15 pounds over time.
If during the weight loss journey you kept a food journal, you should continue to track whatever passes your lips. If you had been using an app to count your calories, don’t stop once you reach your goal weight. Track your calories at least 4 days a week. You can use a calorie counting app to calculate your maintenance calories.
Tracking your calories should however not become an obsession. If you feel counting calories is now a mission, just make sure that you are always aware of what foods you are eating and what amounts.
2. Continue to follow a meal plan
Planning your meals in advance can help you gain control of what you eat as well as reduce food portions. You can choose to either make your meals 3 days, 5 or 7 days in advance. If this doesn’t fit your schedule, you could try to at least plan your meals a day in advance.
Start by making a menu for the next week, then creating a shopping list for the items that you will need to prep the meals. Next, go grocery shopping, then pour yourself a glass of wine when back in your kitchen and start cooking.
A simple meal planning journal goes a long way in helping you to keep pounds off forever. All you need is consistency with logging everything that you eat. You can also make use of food tracking apps such as MyFitnessPal.
It’s a fact that most people who don’t plan their meals in advance are more likely to eat whatever is thrown at them when hungry.
3. Continue to track your fitness and weight-loss progress
One of the simplest ways to maintain weight after weight loss is to just continue keeping an eye on the scale. Weigh yourself every 2 weeks to track and monitor your weight. This way, you won’t be shocked when one day you jump on the scale and suddenly realise that you have gained 10 pounds. If there’s any weight gain within 2 weeks, you will have a clue how you got there and will do something about it before things escalate.
If weighing yourself is something you would rather not do, you could monitor how your clothes fit or use a tape measure to keep tabs on your progress.
4. Join a support group that understands your weight loss journey
Join a group of people who are on a similar journey as you. This will be a space where you can receive and offer support to others. You can find local or online like-minded groups online with a click of a button.
What’s great about belonging to a support group is that they will understand your weight loss story. You will make new friends and when the going gets tough, and you feel like you can’t do it anymore, they will be your pillar of support. Most online support groups offer valuable weight loss tips, and also share amazing weight loss recipes. You will never feel alone or uninspired when you find your tribe.
5. Help someone lose weight
This is your chance to help another person achieve weight loss success. They have seen you win your battle with weight loss. Ask them if they would like your support to get through the journey.
Some people need help but are too proud to ask. If you know a loved one who is like that, either openly offer to help or secretly become their inspiration. Don’t sneak healthy foods into their lunch bag, or force them to go to the gym with you.
Do it in a way that feels less intrusive and judgmental. Ask them to go for a short walk with you once or twice a week. Listen when they talk, and only offer advice when they ask. Don’t be pushy. You have been through this journey, and you know how unsolicited advice and judgmental comments feel like. Always be kind. How you act in front of someone who is struggling to lose weight might just inspire them to push further. You will be feeding off each other to reach goals and this is how you will keep weight off.
6. Lift weights to maintain muscle
Strength training is just as important during weight maintenance as it is during weight loss. The benefits of lifting weights are incredible. You get that ‘toned’ look, reduce the risks of injury, and enjoy a faster metabolism when you lift weights. You will be able to maintain muscle and strength if you do weight training at least 3 times a week.
If you don’t have access to weights, you could do strength training at home with just your body weight. This article explains how strength training increases lean muscle mass, and burn more calories. Exercises like squats, push-ups, lunges and planks are great for burning fat and building muscle.
If you are new to weight training, a good non-intimidating strength training workout plan to get your foot in the door is this highly recommended weight loss workout plan for beginners.
7. Don’t stop exercising
Your exercise plan might not be as intense now as it was when you were trying to shed pounds. Your new goal will be to stay active for life. Maintain a regular workout schedule. Working out 3- 5 times a week is what you should be aiming at. However, you should be mindful of how much energy you are burning versus the number of calories you are consuming. Keeping a constant eye on calories burned vs calories burned will ensure that you don’t go into weight-loss mode when you should be on maintenance.
8. Snack wisely
The fact that you have lost weight successfully does not give you the passport to snacking whenever and wherever. Snacking is one of the main reasons people have gained weight back after losing it. Just because you did it the first time, does not guarantee that losing weight will be easy breezy the second time. From my personal experience, losing weight the second time takes so much effort than the first time.
Reaching your goal is not an opportunity to indulge in the treats you missed out on while you were clean eating. Small treats can sometimes contain big calories – snack wisely. Sweets and treats eventually add up and three months down the ‘candy and cake lane’, will leave you battling with zipping up your pants.
Final thoughts on how to maintain weight after losing it
Spoil yourself once in a while, but also remember that moderation is the name of the game for losing weight and keeping it off forever. Maintaining the weight after losing it a continuous process. You have to adjust your mindset, be kind to yourself and others, and know that weight loss is not a destination but only part of a healthy lifestyle.
The reasoning that “oh well, I’m slimmer, and now can eat almost anything and work it off later” might be the reason you end up climbing down the mountaintop one day.
Also, don’t become an expert just because you managed to lose weight. I have seen so many people become start dishing out wrong information just because it worked for them. Always bear in mind that weight loss is not a cookie-cutter approach. Everyone loses weight differently, for others, it takes much longer and for some, there might be medical reasons involved that would render one method dangerous to their health.
Have you successfully lost weight? How are you maintaining your current weight? Share your tips in the comments section.