If you’ve ever attempted to lose weight, you know how much of a struggle it can be.
Do you know what’s even tougher than losing weight though?
Keeping it off!
Each year so many of us attempt to lose weight. And many of us succeed.
Yet how many of us end up right back where we started within weeks or months? It seems to be the majority.
It is becoming seemingly clear that weight loss maintenance is just as (if not more) important than the weight loss itself.
Regaining lost weight is the last thing we want after putting in months of hard work.
No one wants to struggle for months losing weight just to put it all back on.
And the truth is, you don’t have to!
By implementing the following strategies you can decrease your chances of regaining that weight you worked so hard to get off.
If you’re ready, let’s get started!
5 Key Weight Loss Maintenance Strategies
Setting Sufficient Maintenance Motives
In order to sustain a behavior you must have a sufficient reason to continue doing it.
If YOU see no reward or benefit being produced by the new behavior it is highly unlikely that you’ll continue it. What is generally seen as rewarding or beneficial to most may not be sufficient for you.
The reward has to be sufficient for you personally. Preferably, a strong, emotionally connected reason.
We are highly influenced by our desire for instant gratification.
So, some dull, impersonal motive isn’t going to do too well against the dozens of temptations we’re surrounded with. These things that produce instant pleasure.
To skip a workout, eat that box of cookies, or drive past McDonald’s on the way home from work.
With each change you are going to make, truly seek out the benefits and how it positively impacts your life.
Make yourself aware of these in times of struggle/temptation (using a card with these points on it can be a great way to remind yourself the true benefits of your behavior change in hard times).
Regulating and/or Monitoring Your Behaviors
Studies have shown that those who monitor and regulate their new behaviors (as well as their progress) are more likely to continue them.
“In a multiple regression equation, each category of self-monitoring contributed significantly to the prediction of weight loss. Furthermore, the independent analysis showed a significant association between each self-monitoring behavior and weight loss. Overall, the use of self-monitoring was found to have a high impact on weight management.“ (2)
Things such as frequent self-weigh ins, tracking daily steps, and keeping a food log are some good examples.
Implementing these strategies into your weight loss plan may help you increase your chances of maintaining your weight loss.
You have to remember to keep things as simple, enjoyable and convenient for you as possible. In other words, how you do each of the above strategies may differ.
For example, some find weighing themselves once a day to be sufficiently effective. It works great for them!
However, you may find that schedule to be too frequent and aim for just 2-3 weekly weigh-ins. There isn’t anything wrong with that.
You have to find what works best for you!
Another example is tracking food intake. Some individuals swear by counting calories and tracking macros. However, you (like me) may find that simply tracking meal composition is more suitable for you and your goals.
The key with any advice you receive is to find its effectiveness for YOU. To keep what works and discontinue what does not.
So, regardless of the particular way that you choose to monitor your new behaviors you should definitely do so to some extent to increase your chances of weight loss maintenance.
- Keep a food log (not necessarily counting calories, just tracking meal composition) for at least several weeks
- Check your weight at least once a week, focusing on weekly averages rather than one particular weigh-in
- Use a pedometer throughout the day to track your daily steps/activity
- Track your workouts, strength and/or endurance progress to give you other aspects to fitness (other than weight) to keep you motivated
- Keep a journal to track your relapses as well as the emotions, situational context, etc before, during, and after slipping up
Developing Sufficient Resources
Having the proper resources (or tools and skills) is extremely important for weight loss maintenance.
Having sufficient psychological and physical resources is important to maintaining new behaviors. The less abundant and relevant the tools, the harder the task will be.
On the contrary, the more abundant and relevant the tools are, the easier the task becomes.
Just getting a basic knowledge and understanding of these 3 topics can really benefit you in your weight loss and/or fitness goals. Just be careful where you get the information from. And understand that if it promises quick, easy results it is probably not honest, scientific information (so you should ignore it or be cautious at best).
Regarding physical tools, have a small, economical home gym set up in your home if possible. Even if it is just a doorway pull up bar, some resistance bands or dumbbells, and a set of push up stands (which is all you truly need).
Getting a food log app on your phone or a food scale are some other examples of obtaining the proper tools for your goals (and they will vary per individual).
Just remember, the easier it is to do the new behavior, the more likely it is that you will continue it.
And the better or greater the resources (or tools) the easier it will be.
Habits are behaviors that are seemingly automatic. We develop them by repeatedly doing a behavior in the same context for a period of time.
Despite the time-frames that you may have heard, evidence shows that the complexity of the behaviors influences how quickly a particular behavior becomes habitual or automatic.
So, drinking a glass of water prior to each meal would become habitual much quicker than exercising or 20 minutes 3 days a week.
What is clear is that the more we do the behavior the less effort and thought is required overtime. Can you see the power in that for losing weight and keeping it off?
Think how hard it is to turn down that huge cupcake. Or how tough it can be to get up and exercise.
Well, when you make these behaviors habits they become seemingly effortless. It still amazes me how certain behaviors that used to be SO darn hard to do are now so simple.
In my opinion, developing habits is one of the most important aspects of weight loss maintenance.
Many fail in keeping lost weight off because they cannot continue the behaviors which led them to that weight loss. They followed some random program or diet which promised “a ripped body” instead of developing habits which would get them and KEEP them there.
Habits are hard to change, for good or bad. So, you can understand that building healthy habits would be an extremely useful tool in maintaining lost weight.
If the behaviors stay, so will the results. This is opposite to my frequent phrase of “when the behaviors go, so do the results which those behaviors produced”.
If we can place our focus on making habits out of the behaviors that support our goals we will be much better off in the long-term.
We need to put much more of our focus on developing healthy habits. We need to put our effort in making regular exercise, physical activity and eating a healthy diet habitual.
For a simple, practical path to creating healthy habits see this page here.
Making Supportive Environments & Social Groups
Making your social group and environment work with you, not against you is extremely important for behavior change maintenance.
Having healthy relationships with individuals whom have the same or similar goals is a great way to create a positive social influence on you and your goals. Likewise, having a group of people who encourage your good behaviors and hold you accountable for the bad ones can really increase your chances of success.
Creating a positive environment is another crucial aspect to your success in behavior change maintenance. Having healthy foods readily available in your home while keeping unhealthy foods out is a great way to do this.
Making a small home gym is also a great way to make your environment promote positive/healthy behaviors (or signing up for a gym that you pass on your way home). I’ll say it again, the easier a behavior is, the more likely it is that we will continue doing it.
Losing weight can be a real challenge for many of us. However, what seems to (possibly) be harder is maintaining the weight we lose.
Often times we adopt behaviors that cannot be sustained (we seek out short-term solutions to our problems). Quick fixes are sought after instead of sustainable behaviors that will continue to produce the results we first sought out.
Next time you plan for weight loss (or any change), make sure to acknowledge these 5 key strategies for behavior change maintenance.
I hope you enjoyed this post.
Please feel free to comment with questions and/or thoughts on weight loss maintenance.
Thanks for reading,