Yesterday, was an education day at the bariatric center. The behavior modification specialist did a wonderful presentation on maintaining weight loss. Though I’m only 1/3 of the way through the program, preparing to sustain my recent and future weight loss is crucial. I’ve lost and gained in the past because once I’d reached my goal, I’d slowly return to my old way of eating. This time I have way too much invested, in terms of health risks and the overall cost of this endeavor to return to old habits.
Unfortunately, I’m aware that chronic obesity is a disorder that has no real quick fix and no long-term cure. The only way to stay at a healthy weight for life is to be ever-vigilant of food choices, portions and physical activity. It sounds incredibly daunting to do for a lifetime, doesn’t it? However, I’m trying to re-wire my brain to view chronic obesity as something that must be controlled, like high blood pressure or asthma. Just as must take my asthma medication and avoid potential asthma triggers, I’m equally bound to make the right food choices, practice portion control, and exercise daily. Here are some of the wonderful tips that I learned to aid in maintaining weight loss:
- Journal all food and drinks that you consume at the time you eat or drink them. This helps to keep you mindful of what you’re putting in your body. If your journal isn’t nearby, write down what you’ve had on a scrap sheet of paper and transfer the info to your journal later.
- Exercise and engage in physical activities, at least 30 minutes per day, but make your exercise plan realistic for your lifestyle. Find the time of day that suits your schedule. If you choose to workout at a gym or wellness center, be certain that it’s close enough to your home that you’ll actually feel like driving there. I remember learning in a college fitness course that statistics have shown that people who live more than 15 minutes from their place of exercise are more likely to skip working out.
- Actively Practice Portion Control. Learn what an appropriate portion size is. Web MD offers a great portion size guide. I’ve printed this and keep it on my refrigerator. Using smaller plates, cups and bowls that contrast the color of your food give the appearance of a fuller plate. If you eat out at restaurants ask for a to-go box with your meal and put half of it to take home for the next day.
- Plan your meals and snacks weekly. This will decrease your likelihood of making impulse decisions about food choices. It will also teach you to not use food for immediate gratification, because you’ll know what and when you’ll be eating.
- Remember that you are in control of what you eat. Choose carefully the foods that you allow in your home. Don’t allow others to talk, or guilt, you into eating foods that could jeopardize your success.
- Practice mindful eating. In doing this, you should be aware of what and how much you’re eating. Additionally, you should be eating in the moment and not chowing down mindlessly in front of the TV or computer. Focus on your food and take the time to enjoy the fuel that you’re giving your body.
- Identify the things that trigger your overeating. Avoid situations that may cause sensory stimulation like the sight or smell of food. The Food Network channel is probably not the best thing to watch! If avoiding a trigger is impossible, plan ahead to have a healthy alternative. Also, realize that sometimes the things that our body craves are really signals of something else that our body actually needs. If you’re craving something salty, you may actually be thirsty. If you’re snacking because you’re overly tired, you probably need protein.
- Learn from previous weight loss failures. Think about the choices that you made the last time you lost and regained and don’t repeat your mistakes. I thought I could go back to my normal style of eating and still magically keep my weight off. Boy, was I wrong! Read all of the information that you find on maintaining weight loss. There are so many great online resources on weight maintenance you’ll never run out of material!
- Focus on the health of your one and only body! Just focusing on the number on the scale won’t do. Lot’s of people decrease that number through unhealthy means. Think about yourself as an entire, beautiful, amazing package that thrives on healthy, well-portioned meals and activity to keep going.
What do you think? Do you have any other tips for long-term weight maintenance that could be added to the list? Tell me about it below! 🙂