To maintain weight loss long-term involves lifestyle changes. Habits and thinking have to change, physical ailments and issues such as emotional eating need to be addressed, and of course there’s some learning to do. That’s why I believe in medical weight loss as the true and lasting solution to weight loss.
Here’s a quick summary of topics related to maintaining weight loss that I’ve (in most cases) discussed in more detail elsewhere.
Create the Exercise Habit
Add some form of daily exercise to your routine. Start small – perhaps just taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work is enough to begin. Consider getting a pedometer and adding a bit more walking to your routine. You can even try exercises that can be done without leaving your chair. There are many forms of gentle exercise, and exercise doesn’t have to involve expensive equipment – check out Pilates , T’ai Chi or Yoga. Rediscover swimming or biking if you enjoyed them as a child. Be creative – perhaps taking up dancing would be fun. Remember that every ounce of muscle you add burns more calories and makes it easier to keep weight off.
Choose a wide variety of fresh, unprocessed foods. Limit grains, and try to choose slow carb grains such as quinoa. Find ways to add slow-carbs to your regular diet, particularly beans and other legumes. Buy organic when you can. Ensure you’re adding some high fiber choices. Buy only healthy fats – olive oil, coconut oil, cold-pressed and refrigerated flax seed oil, avocados, etc. Keep nuts and seeds available as snacks. If prep time or storage is an issue with vegetables, buy frozen. Try to choose a wide variety, mixing up colors, which will help you get a wider spectrum of healthy antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Limit purchases of fruit juice, and avoid any drink with added sugar. Don’t buy diet pop either. Be particularly cautious when purchasing packaged foods, and read the nutritional labels.
- White flour – try coconut flour or almond meal
- White sugar – try coconut sugar or truvia
- White rice – try quinoa or buckwheat
- Packaged foods with additives – read the labels
- Soda pop or sweetened beverages
Don’t skip meals – missing meals are a signal to your body to store fat. If you’re rushed or disinterested in food, grab a protein shake or green smoothie in place of a meal.
Try to discover one new healthy recipe each week, until you have a good selection of family favorites that are delicious and healthy. The internet is a great tool for this. Be careful of excess salt in recipes and feel free to reduce the amount called for – you can always add more later.
Choose Healthy Snacks
Healthy snacking is good for you, and will help you keep weight off. Try to never go more than three hours without “topping up your tank” with a few almonds, a cheese stick, or some other healthy snack.
Control Blood Sugar Surges
Understanding how sugar and wheat trigger blood sugar surges is a big part of successful long-term weight loss. When you eat sugar, baked goods, pasta or other high-glycemic carbs, you will crave more as soon as the immediate blood sugar surge fades. It’s a vicious cycle, as craving leads to craving and you stuff yourself with low-nutrient calories. The easiest way to break the cycle is to stop, but if you indulge in occaisional “treats”, be very conscious of their insidious effects. Try to develop new, healthy “treats”, involving nutrient-rich foods you truly enjoy.;
The American Medical Association now recommends that every adult take a multivitamin. Depending on your diet and individual health issues, it can be wise to add additional supplements, particularly vitamns B, C, D, E and magnesium.
Stay Heart Healthy
Drink lots of water – at least 8 glasses per day. Limit sodium, MSG, preservatives. Try to eat some of your fruits and vegetables raw. Green smoothies are great! Adding a serving or two of fish each week helps you get essential fatty acids. Limit or eliminate alcohol, soft drinks, fried foods, refined sugars and refined grain products. Consider adding fish oil, primrose oil or flaxseed oil supplements.
Approximately 25 million Americans suffer from chronic insomnia. If you’re not getting enough good quality sleep, you’re more likely to struggle with keeping weight off. Try to make it a priority to get enough sleep, and get medical help if you are unable to get to sleep or stay asleep enough to feel well-rested.
Negative self talk is toxic, but many of us learned it from our parents or critical teachers and kept the habit. Change is possible, either on your own or with professional help. Consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy if your thoughts are sabotaging you regularly. CBT has proven very effective with relieving anxiety and depression. Once you learn to limit the impact your thoughts have on your life, new horizons can open rapidly. Get a list of tips for a positive weight loss mindset.
I’ve discussed the benefits of meditation for weight loss elsewhere, as well as the relationship of stress to weight loss. If you’re constantly stressed, your body will produce adrenal hormones that will make it difficult to maintain weight loss. There are many ways to reduce stress – try googling “mindfulness”, getting a weekly massage, going for a swim… Whatever works for you is fine. The first step is awareness, and the second is making a choice to deal with the stressors in the most positive way possible.
Certain herbal teas such as lemon balm, mint, camomile, ginseng, ashwaganda, passionflower or tulsi (holy basil) can be very calming.
Supplements can also help, such as insotol, holy basil, B complex, 5-HTP, St John’s Wort, Kava Kava, valerian. Check with your doctor before adding these supplements. Some can interact with prescription medications so use caution.
Life Balance Deserves a Look
All work and no play makes you fat as well as dull. Life balance is important, so find time for family, community, hobbies, learning, and other things that give you joy. Don’t forget to make time for personal time.
A balanced life is said to include eight areas, forming the “Wheel of Life”. Those are:
Which of those could use a little more time and attention in your life?