Losing weight is a battle many of us struggle with for life. It’s a tempting world out there, and our will power is challenged on a daily basis. But if you have reached, or are attempting to reach your weight loss goal, staying at that goal can often be as challenging as getting there in the first place. But by incorporating these “10 Tips For Weight Loss and Maintenance”, into your life, you may find you never have to go on another diet.
1. Drink lots of WATER – How much water do you drink each day? Most know that drinking plenty of water is advisable for optimal health. But did you know that it’s also vital for weight loss and maintenance as well. Water helps our bodies work better, flushing our systems, and keeping our digestive system functioning properly. You’ll likely find that when your body is properly hydrated you’ll feel less sluggish, have more energy and will naturally move better (and maybe more). You’ll simply feel fitter. Water fills us up too, and makes us less likely to opt for a snack, when possibly our body is just craving fluids. And water is free! With all the expensive and elaborate weight loss “secrets” out there, it turns out that the best weapon against weight gain (and ally for weight maintenance) is available right from your kitchen faucet. Keep a glass of water at your desk, by your nightstand, and with you when you are out and about. If you’re typical, you’re awake an average of 16 hours per day, so just one glass of water every two hours gives you the recommended 8 glasses a day! And according to a new study, “drinking just two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helps people melt pounds away.” (The study was funded by the Institute for Public Health and Water Research, a nonprofit, independent science and education organization.)
2. Weigh yourself regularly, but not too often – How often do you weigh yourself? A weekend of parties and desserts can easily add up to several more pounds by Monday morning. But, if you’re in the habit of regularly weighing yourself, you will most likely keep to within a three or four pound weight range. And getting back on track will be that much easier if you keep tabs on yourself, by not letting yourself get too far off goal. Always weigh yourself at the same time of day too, since your weight can vary by several pounds over the course of a single day. I weigh myself first thing in the morning – before that first cup of coffee – about twice a week. (Try to resist the urge to weigh yourself daily.) That way I’m not obsessing about a pound or two move from day to day, but I can still catch a small trend upwards early enough to try to turn it around before it becomes larger. Weighing yourself too often can lead to an unhealthy obsession with the number on the scale. Know that your weight will fluctuate a little from week to week, and day to day. That is expected, normal and quite okay.
3. Don’t drink your calories – Do you know how many calories you are drinking each day? You may be surprised. You can add significantly to your daily calorie intake, without realizing it, simply because of the beverages you are consuming. For me, I mostly chose Crystal Light, diet soda, decaffeinated coffee or just plain water. I’d rather “save” my calories (points if you are doing Weight Watchers) for eating. Juices, sodas and alcohol can easily add many hundreds of extra calories per day. For example, if you consume an average of 350 beverage calories per day, you could lose one pound every 10 days by simply eliminating those calories. Over the course of a year, that could add up to a 36 lb. loss! Now that’s considerable.
4. Eat when you’re hungry and don’t skip breakfast – Do you eat by the clock, or when your body tells you it’s hungry? Often we eat for reasons other than hunger. We eat for emotional reasons: we’re bored, we’re being social, we don’t want to be rude, we’re stressed, or the clock simply says “it’s meal time”. When you start to consciously tune into your body’s hunger signals, you will slowly begin to recognize and respond to a “physically hungry body” instead of an “emotionally hungry body”. It is possible, after all, to get together with a friend over coffee without food. It is possible to watch TV without butter-laden popcorn, or a bowl of ice-cream. It is entirely reasonable to expect your spouse to comfort you when you are having a bad day, rather than seeking comfort with a candy bar. And getting your body’s metabolism cranked up by starting your day with a great breakfast is essential. According to WebMD, “Breakfast skippers replace calories during the day with mindless nibbling, bingeing at lunch and dinner. They set themselves up for failure.” So kick start your metabolism right out of the gate with a healthy breakfast, preferably with some protein, and see your waistline positively impacted.
5. Choose an appropriate weight goal – Have you chosen a weight goal that is appropriate for you and your age? Sure there are BMI charts out there and countless sites that tell us what we should weigh, based on our height. But the healthy weight range, often has a 25 to 30 lb. spread. So how do you decide what you should weigh? Though many of us tend to be toward the bottom of that range as a young person, we often find ourselves at the top of the range (or beyond) as we reach middle age and beyond. As long as we are staying within, or very close to the range (BMI no greater than 25), I would suggest that’s okay. For me, if I weighed now what I weighed as a young mother (my BMI was about 19 then), I would most likely look emaciated, and everyone might assume I was ill. As we age, our metabolism slows, and dropping five pounds takes weeks (if we’re lucky), compared to just days when we were young. We become more concerned with our health and well-being than fitting into a certain jean size. So accept that you body will naturally change over your lifetime, and pick a realistic weight goal.
6. Restrict what you bring into the house, forever – Do you have a DANGER food – a food that is just too hard to resist when it’s in your home? Do you have a food that almost seems to call out your name from the cupboard or refrigerator? I know I do. For me it’s chocolate. For you it might be potato chips, ice-cream or maybe yours is chocolate too. But if you answered “YES”, then consider keeping those “danger” foods OUT of your home. To some this may seem drastic, but it can be a helpful tool – if your willpower isn’t always strong enough. This does NOTmean you should never treat yourself to those foods. On the contrary, you can on occasion. But by not having those those danger foods readily accessible and convenient at home, you are less likely to over indulge during a moment of weakness. And we all know that we will have those moments!
7. Make Moving Fun – Have you found an activity you enjoy, that gets your body moving? For many, exercise is not something to which they gravitate. Some even go so far as to say they HATE exercise. If you don’t like doing something, it’s highly unlikely you will continue doing it for the rest of your life. That’ is reality. But your goal should be to make your weight maintenance for life. So trying to find some form of exercise you like (or at least don’t hate) is critical to keeping you at your goal weight. And because our lives are so busy, taking time for exercise is often a low priority. But I would suggest that you need to find something that will move your body (don’t call it exercise), that you semi enjoy and can do regularly. So what do you do? First think about what you enjoy. If you are a people person, you could find a walking buddy, and chat while you exercise. If you love TV, you may need to get an elliptical and place it in your family room. If you enjoy dancing, maybe take a dance class with your spouse. If you like playing video games, get a Wii and play along with the kids. If you like being outside, gardening and mowing the lawn counts as exercise, you know. It’s about finding something you enjoy and gravitate towards, rather than away from, so that movement becomes a part of your daily life. It needs to be as automatic as brushing your teeth, something you consider part of your daily routine.
8. Get your spouse or friend on board – Is your spouse or friend on board as your cheerleader, or your saboteur? Dieting is hard enough as it is, but when you have someone who is undermining your efforts, it can be downright impossible. So ask for support. Be direct, and tell your family and/or friends that you need them to support your efforts. For example, if you have decided that you can only have dessert once a week, and your spouse is accustomed to having dessert daily, ask that he have his dessert at lunchtime, instead of at dinnertime in your presence. If you will be adjusting your cooking, explain how it will benefit the rest of the family as well. Explain that your new diet is not just about your weight, but about being well and healthy too. Don’t be afraid to share your quest for a healthy weight with those who care for you. They can’t support you, if they don’t know. Bottom line is that when you have the support of a loved one, it is so much easier to both lose and maintain your weight loss. And don’t forget to thank them for their support on a regular basis.
9. Write it down – Are you aware of everything you eat in a single day? For most, the answer would be “NO!”, unless they have established the habit of keeping a daily food log. There is a good reason why successful diet plans, such as Weight Watchers, recommend writing down your food intake each day. We tend to graze – and strangely enough, those calories (points) count too! The extra nibbles from the kitchen as you prepare the meal, the few scraps the kids left on their plates that you finish off, or a healthy handful of nuts to tide you over ’til dinnertime. They all count. So keep a little notepad in your purse, and jot it down. It will tell the tale, when you notice the scale number creeping up.
10. Stay busy – Do you tend to eat less when you are busy? If you are typical, the answer is YES! We tend to eat when we’re bored, stressed, lonely, or tired. When we stay busy – doing something that keeps our mind, body and hands occupied, we are much less likely to over indulge. So make it a decision to keep busy, and occupied.
So for those of us who can look at a dessert and gain weight, weight maintenance will never come easily. But by following these “10 Tips for Weight Loss Maintenance“, it is entirely possible to stay at goal – or close to it – for LIFE!