Congratulations on achieving your goal. Enjoy the feeling of being healthier. Weight loss has a positive effect on looks, but more importantly, it helps how you feel about yourself. You worked hard, and now you feel that you are ready to stop dieting and live a normal and healthier life. It’s time to move from a weight-loss diet to a maintenance diet.
Too many people are ready to scare you with negative stories of how most people fail to maintain their weight loss for any length of time. It is shockingly disheartening to realize that you will most likely be “dieting” to some degree for the rest of your life. Realize that temporary weight-loss diets aren’t eternal fixes; maintaining that glorious weight loss means permanent lifestyle changes. Gone are the days when you could eat whatever you wanted in seemingly unlimited quantities. But cheer up! The good news is that maintaining that positive change doesn’t have to be drudgery — and certainly not deprivation.
Although you have ample reason to be happy for reaching your desired weight after all of the sweating, counting calories and bypassing the dessert table, don’t celebrate with a binge. With all things, use moderation. Chances are that if you counted calories, ate well-rounded meals and exercised regularly, you will find it easier to continue those healthy habits and maintain your impressive results. Dieters who used prepackaged diet plans will have to allow for a period of close scrutiny of what they are eating for a while to establish a lifelong healthy eating and exercise routine. If you lost weight slowly and steadily, then you are already on your way to a successful maintenance plan. You just need to permanently adopt the lifestyle changes you’ve already made.
Some of the things you can do to make your after-diet weight maintenance a little easier include:
- Avoiding sugar and sugary/sweet foods. Sugar can make you feel hungry and increase your appetite and may cause you to overeat.
- Keeping a food journal. You may have done this while you were losing weight. By remaining aware of what and when you are eating, it will be easier to ensure you are not overindulging.
- Not being afraid to have the occasional dessert or treat, especially on special occasions. It’s important that you don’t feel deprived, because then it becomes more tempting to fall off the wagon. Remember this catchphrase: All things in moderation.
- Noting what you have eaten when you have felt hungrier than usual. These are triggers that should be avoided if possible.
- Not stopping exercising or engaging in physical activity just because you achieved your goal weight. Walking is an excellent activity; buy a pedometer and keep track of how many steps you take every day. Exercise also has the benefit of strengthening your muscles and bones, improving circulation and aiding in your overall cardiac health.
- Planning and preparing as many meals at home as possible so that you have better control of what you are actually eating. Learn to substitute lower-calorie and lower-fat ingredients to reduce negative food counts.
- Weighing and measuring yourself regularly and acting immediately (by dieting) if you notice a weight gain. Realize that minor fluctuations in both weight and size are normal, but do react if there is a consistent gain.
- Making vegetable salads with low-cal dressings the beginning of every meal. Drink water before you eat and with the meal (instead of sugary beverages).
- Making sure that you are eating high-protein, high-fiber foods and drinking several glasses of water daily.
- Keeping your pantry stocked with superfoods — such as pears, oats, black beans, blueberries, broccoli, green tea, lentils, almonds, kidney beans, brown rice, avocados, salmon and bananas — for addition to meals or snacks. Superfoods will help fill you up, are great sources of protein and fiber, and offer healthy carbs to boost your energy level.
Support from friends and family remains important during weight and diet maintenance. Change your mindset, and don’t slip back into decreased activity and poor eating habits. Focus on the positive changes and improved health that your weight loss gave you. Congratulate yourself on your achievement and the strength that got you where you are today.