You’ve finally done it. You’ve attacked those extra pounds with a sensible plan and watched them shrink away.
You no longer dread climbing on the scale, and you relish the thought of fitting into your “skinny jeans.” You’ve reached your goal, and you’re thrilled … but admit it, you’re also apprehensive. What if all the lost weight comes back with a vengeance?
That fear is a very reasonable one, since the International Journal of Obesity found that only 4.4 percent of people who lost at least 20 percent of their initial body weight were able to keep it off. You don’t have to be part of that statistic if you use a commonsense approach to maintaining a healthy weight. These five tips will help you be a long-term slender success:
Make Healthy Activity an Integral Part of Your Day
To hit your weight loss goal, it’s likely you were hitting the gym frequently or incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Just because you’ve lost the weight doesn’t mean you can go back to being a sedentary couch potato or lessen the amount of exercise you do.
The National Institute of Health points out that you can break up periods of activity into small chunks throughout the day if you can’t fit in one long exercise session. Take a 10- or 15-minute walk and bring your partner or the kids along to combine some family time with healthful living. Pop one of those short workout videos that are getting so popular into your DVD. Everyone from Leslie Sansone to Shaun T seems to offer a 25- to 30-minute workout these days. Set an exercise goal that outlines the amount of time you should be exercising per week and stick to it.
Keep Food in its Proper Place
Whether your weight loss diet had you drinking kale smoothies, cutting out carbs or simply involved diligent calorie counting, don’t think that now that you’ve shred those pounds that you can go back to fast food or late night snacking. Maintaining your goal weight means maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and that includes your diet.
Food is, first and foremost, something to nourish our bodies. God didn’t make calorie-laden foods taste good to torture us. He expects us to eat moderation. Don’t forbid yourself from eating all those wonderful treats, like chocolate or ice cream or fresh, hot cinnamon rolls. Just make them part of an overall well-balanced plan designed to nourish you while also leaving room for enjoyment.
Get Your Family Involved in Your Efforts
It’s hard to stick to a healthy eating plan if your partner and the kids are constantly clamoring for heavy meals and high-calories treats. Turn your healthy lifestyle into a family effort that includes buying sensible snacks and preparing wholesome meals. That doesn’t mean totally purging those decadent goodies totally. Instead, get your household in the habit of enjoying them in moderation.
Be Kind to Yourself
Too often we get caught up in self-criticism when we’re on a weight loss regime, and it continues even after we achieve success. When you’re hard on yourself, your efforts can easily backfire. A negative attitude can make one slip-up seem so terrible that you give up on your healthy lifestyle completely.
In reality, we’re all human and slip-ups are part of that. The healthy attitude is to accept them, forgive ourselves, make them into a learning opportunity, and move on. Instead of beating yourself up, ask, “What caused this slip? What can I do to avoid it in the future?” The mistake can actually empower you by giving you more knowledge, and therefore more tools for future success.
Replace a negative focus with positive reinforcement. After all, you achieved your weight loss goal, and that’s something to be very proud of. Congratulate yourself on all the great side effects, like looking better, feeling healthier, fitting into attractive new clothes, and getting compliments from others.
Write all those things down on Post-It notes and stick them in spots where you’ll see them every day. Create a list of positive affirmations with which you can start each morning, like, “I look good, I feel good, and I’m in this healthy lifestyle for the long term,” or “I’m proud of my weight loss, and I’m going to be even prouder when I keep it off forever.”
Ask for Support When You Need It
There are so many great sources of support, starting with your family and friends. They’re probably already proud of you for your weight loss, so they’ll certainly want to be there for you when you need a pep talk or sympathetic year. Expand your circle by joining a free weight loss support site in which you can receive encouragement from members of the community, like My Fitness Pal or SparkPeople.
You can also ask the Lord for help, because God is always there to lend support when we need it the most. You can talk to Him any time in prayer and put a quick request for strength or guidance. You might not have time to call a friend when your belly is rumbling as you drive by your favorite fast food restaurant, but God will help you resist.
We’re told in 1 Corinthians that:
No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. —1 Corinthians 10:13
That means that even when you’re feeling weak and about to give in to something you know you shouldn’t, you can trust God to help you through that desire.
There are no guarantees, but if you put in some effort you can maintain your weight loss success for the long term.