When it comes to effective weight control, it’s important to understand that you’ll inevitably see ups and downs on the scale – our bodies fluctuate depending on what we’ve eaten, how much we’re moving, and how our hormones are behaving in response to lifestyle factors like stress.
However, it is possible to maintain your weight once you reach that ideal number – as long as you continue most of the core habits you adopted in order to lose the weight in the first place, while learning how to enjoy indulgent foods without getting completely derailed.
We tell our clients that effective weight control is a lifelong journey. Losing the weight doesn’t happen in a quick-fix kind of way, and neither does gaining it back.
So to manage your weight in the long run, here are a few suggestions:
1. Eat often.
Our clients are usually surprised by how much they actually eat when embarking on our weight loss program.
Yet we strongly believe that weight control is about preventing hunger before it happens.
When we prevent hunger by eating the right balance of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats) at regular intervals, we are far less likely to overeat when we do sit down for meals or snacks.
Overeating often leads to further cravings, which becomes a downward spiral of consumption.
So while the old adage that you should “listen to your body” or eat when you’re hungry has some truth to it, it doesn’t necessarily apply for effective weight control.
Eat often – about every 3-4 hours – in an appropriate caloric range for your body, and your weight should remain stable.
2. Find your carbohydrate “threshold.”
We advocate a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet for weight loss, because it puts the body into ketosis – a state where you are burning fat stores for fuel.
Yet even after you’ve reached your goal weight, you need to be mindful of your carbohydrate intake, or threshold: the approximate number of carbohydrates you can consume without experiencing sugar cravings, extreme hunger, binge eating, or other symptoms of carbohydrate overload.
For effective weight control, this number will vary depending on your age, gender, BMI, and BMR (basal metabolic rate).
Experiment with slightly raising or lowering your daily carbohydrate intake, noting how this affects the number on the scale.
3. Don’t be afraid of fat.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you should be aware that fat-rich foods usually have a higher calorie count – so proceed with caution.
If you’re trying to maintain your weight, however, healthy sources of fat can actually help control hunger, burn fat (yes, we need fat to burn fat), and assist your body in absorbing crucial fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
Be mindful of calories, again, but enjoy proper portions of avocados, nuts, seeds, wild salmon, coconut oil, or grass-fed butter.
4. Exercise smarter, not harder.
Research suggests that physical activity is one of the best ways to keep the weight off once you’ve lost it.
Effective weight control, however, isn’t about spending hours at the gym or doing bouts of strenuous exercise every day.
Keep in mind there’s a tendency to overcompensate with food after a hard workout because you think you’ve “earned” it. Extreme exercise can also bring about extreme hunger, which can lead to binge eating.
So what’s the solution?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, as our bodies respond differently to exercise, but here are few things to consider:
- Strength training builds muscle, which helps burn fat
- Extended periods of moderate cardio (jogging, swimming, fast walking) should put you in the fat-burning zone more so than a short burst of intense cardio (like a 20-minute, fast-paced run)
- Interval training (alternating short bouts of intense exercise with periods of less-intense movement) has been shown to help with weight loss. Studies suggest that shorter periods of interval training can be more effective than longer periods of regular exercise.
- Exercise becomes a habit, so build it into your daily routine for effective weight control.
5. Manage your life.
That may sound like an oversimplified statement, but lifestyle management is one of the most important skills you can master if you want to maintain your weight.
What areas are important? Only you know what your biggest obstacles are, but here are several that tend to be a problem for our clients:
- Preparation. Shop for food and meal plan in advance. This ensures you have healthy options for school, work, or traveling.
- Splurge wisely. Your favorite splurge foods aren’t completely off limits when you want to maintain your weight, but can you eat them without going overboard? If not, look for ways to indulge cravings in a healthier way. This might include giving yourself permission to spend a little extra money on low-carb treats (cookie dough Quest bars, anyone?!) or swapping your favorite high-calorie cocktail for a glass of white wine, instead.
- Stress less. Stress can absolutely sabotage effective weight control, so it’s important to find activities that soothe and calm your body and brain. Is it yoga? A walk in nature? A good laugh? Whatever stress-busters work for you, use them daily.
- Get in the kitchen. It can be intimidating to overhaul your lifestyle and eat differently, but long-term weight control means you ought to know your way around the kitchen. Eating out less will help prevent weight gain, and it can even be an eye-opening adventure learning how to prepare new foods. Even if you’re crunched for time, make it a point to cook at least once a week. Put on some music, slow down, and enjoy the process of nourishing and nurturing your body with healthy ingredients.