Congratulations! Through hard work, you have reached your weight loss goals. But the work doesn’t stop there—maintaining your weight after losing it can be the real challenge.
For most people, the weight loss battle is not finished once you reach your desired number on the scale. The real challenge is keeping the weight off. A University of California, Los Angeles, study found that about two-thirds of dieters had regained the weight they lost, and even weighed more, within four to five years. So why is this phenomenon so common?
There are multiple reasons for regaining weight that you worked so hard to lose. First, you need to understand that your body goes through many metabolic and hormonal changes after losing weight, and those changes tie into basic survival instincts. After you lose weight, your metabolism slows because your body is telling you that you could be starving. So your body makes it easier for you to gain weight once you have lost it.
A 2011 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that, to maintain your new, lower weight, you must consume fewer calories per day than someone who weighs the same as you but has always been that size.
Here are five strategies to keep your weight off:
- Ditch Extreme Dieting: We have all heard of the extreme liquid diets in which you drink only smoothies for two weeks. Yes, you will lose weight, but doctors warn against these diets because you cannot turn them into a healthy lifestyle. It is better to learn how to fuel your body in a healthy way than to deprive it just to lose a few pounds.
- Gain Muscle: Gaining muscle is the quickest way to burn body fat. When you have a stronger and leaner physique, maintaining your weight will come with ease.
- Reduce TV Time: Sitting in front of the TV might be your favorite way to unwind at the end of the day, but cutting out your TV time can be a win-win. Replace that hour with physical activity to prevent unhealthy snack temptations while you’re indulging in your favorite show.
- Get Enough Sleep: Research shows that when you do not get enough sleep, your body relies on food for energy throughout the day. A study found that people who got five or fewer hours of sleep per night ate noticeably more food than people who slept up to nine hours per night.
- Keep Checking the Scale: Experts suggest that people who have lost a considerable amount of weight weigh themselves at least once a week. Although watching the scale is not recommended for everyone, regular weigh-ins help you keep track of what is helping or hindering weight loss goals. For example, if you see that you have gained weight one week, you can review your eating habits and see where you have gone wrong.
Your weight loss journey is not a sprint—it’s a marathon. Healthy weight management should be a lifestyle change rather than a few months of dieting. Maintaining those healthy habits that you established during weight loss is imperative for having a healthy weight throughout your lifetime.