When we begin to follow a diet or make a lifestyle change, we often are looking at the immediate future: how many calories am I eating? Can I eat that? What do I do when I get hungry? How do I handle the grocery store? Etc. What we don’t always think about is what happens when we meet our goal. How do we do the hardest thing: maintain?
The structure of a diet or lifestyle change is fairly simple: reduce your overall intake of food (decrease calories), increase your energy output (exercise), and make smarter food choices. The structure of the maintenance phase is quite different, mainly due to the fact that there is no set “structure.” Once an individual reaches their desired weight or size, then the basic theory would be to continue with the diet/lifestyle change that you have going at that point in time.
But life isn’t that easy, is it? There are parties, weddings, holidays, work lunches… plenty of opportunities so sabotage your success and get you back on the track to weight gain. Things that you might have avoided before during your diet/lifestyle plan (such as skipping the break room snack table or sharing some of the kids afternoon snacks) suddenly become “ok” since you have worked so hard and deserve a reward. Do you deserve a reward? Definitely! We cannot go through life restricting and analyzing everything we eat and every situation that comes up. But remember, each reward can add up if you celebrate with one to multiple times per day.
The main tricks to maintenance are the following:
- Mindfulness. Be mindful of how you feel when you reach your goal. Do you feel strong? Healthy? Energized? Try to remember those feelings of health and well being. This is why you want to stay healthy – to be more confident, positive, and strong for yourself, friends, and family.
- Once you find the routine that brings you to your healthy weight – keep it! You were able to succeed with your weight loss by choosing certain foods and keeping up exercise. If you take those components out and return to your original routine, then you will end up where you started. Not to mention frustrated.
- Allow for ebbs and flows. Checking the scale can be helpful, but don’t let it take control of you. Yes there will be times when you weigh more. Yes there will be times when you weigh less. That is life! What is important is that you allow your maintenance weight and size to stay within a range that you feel is both realistic and maintainable. You will not always stay at one number on the scale – that would make life too easy.
Sometimes a diet or lifestyle change can put blinders up where we only see our end goal. Once we reach that, we need to take the blinders off and see that life is going to continue… with challenges and unplanned events along the way. Try to keep the healthful habits you made – eating more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and less processed food and added sugar – as best you can each day and you will be successful!
This blog was inspired by the following article: After I reach my weight-loss goal, how much food can I add back to my diet? (By Leslie Beck, Dietitian/Canada) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/after-i-reach-my-weight-loss-goal-how-much-food-can-i-add-back-to-my-diet/article17195668/?cmpid=rss1