I’ve Hit My Weight Loss Target: How Do I Keep It Off?
First of all, congratulations to you! If you’re reading this article, you’ve either completed the weight loss journey or are on your way to doing so. That said, you may be anxious about how to hang on to your achievements and avoid gaining back those extra pounds. We will discuss eight key points you should know if you’re trying to learn more about weight loss maintenance.
Being in a rush is never a good thing— especially when it comes to losing weight. Quickly losing weight implies quickly gaining it back, which is why physicians recommend that you try to lose one or two pounds a week at a minimum (3). Another benefit to moderate weight loss is that you spend more time losing weight: during this time, you incorporate lifestyle changes such as portion control, healthy diets, and regular exercise, which are more likely to stay a part of your lifestyle if practiced for a long time (3). Not to mention— drastic weight loss is associated with many health risks that could hinder your ability to maintain your weight later on (3).
People who tend to cycle between dieting and unhealthy eating tend to lose and gain weight accordingly, which is not only harmful but exhausting if you’re trying to maintain a certain weight. Instead of this vicious cycle of heavy dieting and binge eating— it is best to incorporate a consistently healthy lifestyle for long term weight loss (1). After you’ve adopted healthy habits such as nutritional meals, exercise, and self-care over time, they will eventually become an effortless way of life (1).
Did you have a support system when you were trying to slim down? If so, it may be worth it to keep them around. During that time, the people who supported you are also the same people who will respect your accomplishments by positively influencing the maintenance of your weight loss successes (3). You can also rely on them to remind you of your goals when you lose track of your success and indulge in unhealthy habits (3). Additionally, you may have partnered up with someone on your weight loss journey! Losing weight with someone else is even more effective. You and your weight loss partner can keep one another accountable; for example, a study revealed that the other is likely to follow when one person engages in a healthy habit (1).
By helping someone else either begin or continue their weight loss journey, you can also remind yourself of the healthy habits you need to maintain a certain weight (3). Also, being a mentor requires you to hold someone else accountable for achieving their weight loss-related goals— this implies that you have to keep up with the most recent weight loss trends and research— which will motivate you in turn (3).
Avoiding the scale for too long after you’ve reached the weight you desire can be dangerous— you may be surprised to find you’ve suddenly gained five pounds (2). However, stepping on the scale every day is also not good as it can form an obsession with your weight, and after all, day-to-day fluctuations in weight are expected (2). Therefore, the easiest and most effective solution is to weigh yourself once a week. For example, a sample of 10,000 adults who have lost 30 pounds and maintained their desired weight reported that they did so by weighing themselves weekly (2).
After losing weight, most people find that they also lose muscle mass (1). Reduced muscle mass has terrible consequences for maintaining a certain weight: it slows down your metabolism (1). A slower metabolism means that you burn fewer calories than what you consume, but don’t worry, as resistance training solves this problem (1). Weight lifting twice a week will build your muscle mass and aid in maintaining weight loss long-term (1).
You may be surprised to find that people who skip breakfast tend to weigh more than those who don’t (1). Various studies have determined that breakfast might help with your weight loss journey— specifically in the maintenance stage (4). This association exists because people who eat breakfast have healthy lifestyle habits: they exercise more due to the fuel breakfast provides and are generally more mindful of their diets (4). For example, those who skip breakfast may be willing to eat anything for lunch as they will be more hungry, whereas those who have already had a nutritional meal will be more mindful of what they consume.
Exercise is incredibly effective in ensuring permanent weight loss because it increases your metabolism and burns calories— resulting in energy balance (1). Energy balance is the key to weight maintenance, as when you consume and burn the same number of calories, your weight stays the same (1). If you are determined to maintain your weight after working hard to lose it, even thirty minutes of moderate exercise per day can ensure that (3).
(1) Elliott, B. (2017, January 16). The 17 Best Ways to Maintain Weight Loss. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/maintain-weight-loss#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4
(2) Klein, S. (2019, June 10). 7 Things That Happen When You Reach Your Goal Weight. Retrieved from https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/a20497213/tips-to-help-keep-your-goal-weight/
(3) Frey, M. (2020, September 17). 10 Simple Strategies for Maintaining Weight Loss. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-maintain-your-weight-loss-3495601
(4) Katherine Zeratsky, R. (2020, August 26). How breakfast helps with weight control. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/food-and-nutrition/faq-20058449#:~:text=Some research suggests that regularly,also help with weight control.