How To Maintain Weight Loss After Dieting
So you’ve dieted successfully and lost all the weight and fat you wanted to.
Congratulations! You are in rarefied air. The vast majority of people who set out to lose a significant amount of weight sputter out in short order and never reach their goal.
If you have, you are among the elite.
But the bigger question is...how the heck do you stay there and keep it off for the rest of your life?
95% of people who drop a significant amount of weight gain it all back. Why? Most people have no idea how to, number one, transition out of a dieting phase, and, number two, have no strategy or plan of attack in place for maintenance. Most people just go back to doing “whatever” and eating “whatever”, falsely thinking they can get away with that and their body is going to be resistant to weight regain simply because they dieted successfully. NOTHING could be further from the truth.
You want to get out of the cycle of:
Diet and get results
Reward yourself for all your hard work
Regain all the weight
You have to look at your nutrition as a holistic LIFESTYLE-what you do the majority of the time. Because you love the way it makes you look, feel, perform and function in the game of life! Because you love what it does for your health, confidence and productivity! Because treating your body right and eating a certain way makes you a better version of yourself!
In this multi-part series on how to maintain weight loss after dieting , I’m going to provide you with the roadmap which gives you the best chance to succeed-how to stay in the 5% club-in terms of not regaining. I want this to be the last time you have to diet and move towards lifestyle-and lifetime-nutrition. I want you to be able to “check the box” in this area of your life and never have to worry about it again.
“What Got You There...Keeps You There.”
Before I get into the specifics and details of transitioning out of your diet and maintaining, this “big rock” needs to be covered first. This is THE biggest macro-level principle to keep in mind when it comes to maintaining your results (or a high percentage of them): what got you the results is what will help you keep the results.
You need to wrap your head around the fact that you will be eating in the way which got you your results-to some extent and with softened edges-permanently.
This is the fitness lifestyle: what you do the MAJORITY (not all) of the time. Your PRIOR lifestyle was the one where you ended up feeling and looking like crap remember? You cannot just go back to eating whatever and not quantifying at all. You 100% will gain the weight back if you eat intuitively and like a jerk all the time or even half the time.
I’m sure you didn’t want to hear that, and it certainly is a hard pill to swallow (pun intended), but it’s 100% true. If you abandon structure, having a plan (even if it’s a bit looser), executing a plan, quantifying what you eat to some extent, and throw any form of self restraint out the window...you will be right back to where you started in short order. You don’t want that.
Now, do you want-or even have to-measure, weigh and quantify everything you put in your mouth for the rest of your life? Certainly not. That type of food focused mentality and approach is necessary in the goal acquisition phase. In the maintenance lifestyle phase, you do not have to be that food focused and quantitative in your approach and mindset ALL the time (that’s no fun).
For many, the maintenance lifestyle phase might mean tracking all your food and counting calories Monday-Friday and then loosening things up on the weekends where you don’t track anything.
For other people, the maintenance phase might mean having quantified meals 2-3 times/day and then having non-quantified meals 1-2 times daily. Maybe it’s some combination.
This means more eyeballing food/portions, eating more intuitively, eating in a less structured way (no set amount of meals), being mindful, “eating clean”, making good choices, listening to hunger cues, etc. All of this means being behaviorally on a plan when you are not technically on a plan and quantifying all the time.
However, with the above being said, make NO mistake about it: there is going to have to be some level of quantification, keeping tabs on things, and structure if you want to maintain weight loss after dieting.
If you try to “wing it” and eat intuitively all the time...you are in for a wicked slap in the head and you’ll unravel all your hard work. Never forget, folks...this is all a numbers game and it’s all about energy balance.
Defining “Maintenance”: A Quick Word
A lot of people assume “maintenance” means maintaining their lowest point (scale weight, size, level of leanness, etc.), when they were in their largest deficit, depleted, at the end of their diet. People assume if they have not done or are not doing that they are not maintaining and failing.
It is unrealistic to think that’s at all possible. I’ll hit on this again in future posts in this series about how to maintain weight loss after dieting , but, when you come out of a hard diet and start to reintroduce calories and carbs (you should do both), you are going to gain a little weight in the form of water and glycogen replenishment. This is NOT fat gain.
Beyond that, successful maintenance over the long haul is not keeping every ounce of weight off. You cannot define it that way. This is purely anecdotal and my opinion, but if one can keep 80-90% of their lost weight off long term...they are a massive success. So, if you lose 30 lbs., and 3 years later you have kept 24-27 lbs. of that weight off...boom! You are a massive success!
I think that’s a good introduction to this series and I’ll stop there. Next week, in part 2, I’ll dive into how to transition out of the dieting phase, referred to as the reverse diet. Stay tuned!