I begged him not to leave me. Right now, he needed me more than ever. But I’d been through this before, and I knew he’d be back. And I would be waiting for him….
His name was Frank. He’d been my patient for nearly a year, and with plenty of guidance on my part, and a lot of hard work on his part, he was 60 pounds lighter. But the day he hit his goal weight, he decided we were through. In his mind, his weight lost task was accomplished – like something he could check off his ‘to do’ list – which meant he could push all thoughts of dieting aside and move on. As we said our farewells, I left him with only this: “there’s a reason they call it weight management, Frank.”
What I was trying to say to Frank is that once you’ve reached your weight goal, there’s still plenty of work to do. Only about 1 in 6 people say they’ve held onto even small weight losses for as little as a year – which says that maintaining weight loss is a huge challenge for a lot of people.
If you don’t want that lost weight to come back and find you, you can’t just stop what you were doing. When it comes right down to it, what you do in order to lose weight and what you need to do to keep it off are pretty much one and the same. So here are some tips for managing your weight successfully:
- Remember what got you into trouble in the first place. Was it too much fast food? Eating when you’re stressed? Too many sweets? You know yourself well enough to know when you’re falling back into old habits – so catch yourself before a slip becomes a fall.
- Continue to keep track of what you’re doing. Keeping a food and exercise log and tracking your weight are great tools when you’re in the weight loss phase – but don’t stop there. Self-monitoring is key to weight maintenance – you’re more likely to be successful if you continue to keep track.
- Stay active. Once you’ve lost weight, your body burns fewer calories than it did when you were heavier – so exercise plays a critical role in helping to burn calories and keep your weight off.
- Recognize what your true, best and natural weight is. In your efforts to lose, you may have ended up at a weight that’s actually below your body’s natural, healthy, weight – and it may be difficult to maintain. That’s not to say that you should let all your weight come back. But sometimes you may find it easier to maintain a weight that’s slightly higher than you had intended. Many of my clients tell me they’re happiest when they just live a healthy, active lifestyle and let their bodies find their own healthy, natural weight. For them, it’s so much better than obsessing over every bite of food they eat – even if it means carrying a few extra pounds.
- Reward yourself. When you were losing, you probably found ways to give yourself a pat on the back for sticking to your plan – but don’t forget to reward yourself for continuing those new habits every day.
- Remind yourself of how much you’ve accomplished. Keeping photographs around is good – old ones to remind you of where you were, and new ones to remind you of how far you’ve come. Remind yourself of all the positive steps you’ve taken to improve your health – and of how empowered you are, now that you’ve managed to take charge and manage your weight successfully.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.