In many ways weight loss can be easier than actually maintaining the weight loss, and in turn maintaining a healthy body weight range for a long period of time. There are multiple factors for this phenomenon ranging from physiological to social. If you’ve hit your weight loss goal, intuitively you likely want to maintain it, and a better understanding of the reasons why weight loss can be easier than weight maintenance, can significantly improve your ability to be successful at maintenance over the long-term.
There is an Excitement Associated with Weight Loss vs. Weight Maintenance
When you’ve embarked on a weight loss journey, you are typically weighing in at weekly intervals and seeing results, which frankly is fun and exciting. Especially at the beginning of your journey, you are likely seeing significant results quickly. After a few weeks of weight loss, you are likely fitting into clothes that you haven’t fit in for some time, and may even need to purchase some new clothes, which can be incredibly satisfying. Moreover, family, friends, colleagues, etc. begin noticing your weight loss and giving you positive feedback and reinforcement, which can serve as an additional motivator. Once you’ve hit your weight loss goal, and work at maintaining it, you are generally not seeing the scale move in a downward direction, your clothes are not too big forcing you to buy new clothes, and people stop noticing and giving you overt positive support and encouragement. Think of it, how often does someone say: “Wow, you’ve maintained a healthy140lbs frame for 3 years now, good for you, you continue to look great!” Perhaps your partner does, but typically the comments diminish over time.
Extreme Approaches to Weight Loss Are Generally Not Maintainable
Unless you can afford a private chef, completely eliminating refined carbohydrates and processed foods from your diet is generally not maintainable. Numerous studies have shown that people can maintain an extreme approach to nutrition, exercise, or both for a varying amount of time, which generally include a few weeks to a few months before falling off the wagon, and in some cases gaining more weight than before they began the extreme approach.
No Strategy or Resources For Weight Maintenance
People tend to put many resources into a developing a multi-faceted weight loss strategy including the development of meal plans, methods to track caloric intake, and an exercise program. This may include a financial budget as well for assistance with nutrition or fitness training. More often than not, the same level of strategic planning has not been put into the development of a weight maintenance strategy, and as such, when the resources are not in place, weight creeps back on. Furthermore, there is a certain novelty that comes with weight loss planning that is not shared with weight management.
Knowledge is power, so being aware of these factors can assist greatly in maintaining what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. In addition, here are some tips for consideration:
- During a weight loss journey, it is imperative to alter your lifestyle, routine, and habits to ensure success over the long term. This may include getting your household to buy-in to healthier lifestyle so you are not a lone wolf during the process.
- Choose an approach that is maintainable over the long-term. Remember “The Tortoise and The Hare.” It may take you longer to reach your destination, but you are more likely to enjoy the process and stick with it.
- Become your own biggest fan and find your own ways to feel good about maintaining. Positive self –talk is imperative to encouraging yourself. In addition, find your own tricks to feel good about weight maintenance. Personally, I keep 2 pairs of jeans front and center in my closet, 1 pair is from my weight when I was 25lbs heavier, and the other pair are my “skinny jeans.” I have a developed my own weekly ritual of putting both pairs on to a) feel good about how far I’ve come when I can see the inches that have fallen off me, and b) ensure that I’m still fitting into those “skinny” jeans! This is not silly or narcissistic; it is what I do to make myself feel good about maintaining my current weight.
- Try something new; variety is the spice of life! Try a new vegetable, fruit, salad, stir-fry, tea, or exercise routine.