In Part 2 of this article, I look at 2 more very important keys to steady weight loss for the long term.
Creating your Self-Monitoring Habit
Some people find that regularly weighing themselves is helpful and keeps them ‘true to their mission’ both while trying to lose weight, as well as maintaining it over the long term. Here again, it is important to identify what works, and motivates, you. If regularly weighing yourself causes distress or feelings of failure then don’t do it, find another way to be vigilant.
Many commercial diets require you to follow different phases. Often there’s an induction phase, or a time when you restrict foods, or whole food groups. After that, it may be possible to add foods back into the diet, finally getting to a “maintenance phase”.
But, there is research to show that success can be enjoyed by following the same diet both during the weight loss process as well as after – there is no difference in behaviour from beginning a weight loss programme to maintaining it, apart from adjusting exercise and food intake to keep weight in check. That is why it’s so important to change habits slowly and choose activities you can see yourself doing for the long-term.
The key to self-monitoring is to keep track of your progress, and a food and exercise diary will ensure that you have complete visibility of what you have been doing, as well as how that has impacted your results.
Be More Consistent
It’s common for many of us to eat healthily during the week only to have a ‘blow out’ at the weekend. I advocate the 80/20 rule, which is healthy, sensible eating and exercise 80% of the time, with some treats for the other 20%. However, you choose to lose weight, the fact is that the more consistent you can be with diet and exercise the more likely you are to be able to lose weight and maintain it over the long term.
Being consistent doesn’t mean that you have to slavishly follow the same diet day after day. Below I have listed a few ideas for ways you can stay healthy, and still have some fun:
Plan a cheat meal rather than a cheat day – If you give yourself an entire day to eat what you want it can lead to overindulgence that may slow down, or even stop, your weight loss. Instead, plan to have something you enjoy once a week, like a pizza night or go out for a meal. In this way you can enjoy yourself and stay on track for the rest of the day.
Work treats into your diet – Some people find that having a small indulgence each day, like a piece of chocolate, keeps them satisfied and allows them to choose healthy options for the rest of the time.
Have a plan – The single most important thing you do when eating healthy is to be prepared which means having healthy foods in the house so that you’re not tempted to go out for food and having a plan for how you’ll deal with social eating.
Keeping a balance – Healthy eating is important, but so is enjoying life, so don’t obsess about everything you eat. We all have to find the right balance. Sometimes, being too restrictive can lead to binging on the very things we’re trying to avoid.
Don’t give up – We all overindulge at times but many of us then use it as an excuse to quit and go back to old, unhealthy behaviours. One mistake isn’t the end of the world and, even if you’ve really fallen off the wagon, you can always get back on track by simply making the decision to not give up.
The Bottom Line
Successful weight loss is a slow and steady process that requires a certain amount of vigilance, commitment, and discipline every day. It also requires that we take chances, getting away from the comforting, but often bad habits, and replacing them with better ones. Something that everyone who has successfully lost weight would agree on is don’t give up – the benefits will be more than worth it.