How to maintain weight loss: the successful weight maintainer part 2
In part 1, I discussed some of the things that help people to maintain weight loss. Losing weight, is actually possible for most people; maintaining weight loss is considerably more difficult. In this article I’ll discuss some more of the methods that provide guidelines for how to maintain weight loss.
Unsurprisingly, physical activity is associated with better weight maintenance. Physical activity requires calories directly. In addition, greater fitness may indirectly help to improve the intensity and frequency with which other activities are carried out e.g. the shopping; household chores; walking with friends/family. Lastly, physical activity may foster other healthy behaviours – such as more time outdoors, lower stress or better stress management, a less sedentary lifestyle etc. All the above help someone attenuate excess energy storage.
Eating pattern, in this instance, relates to the control of one’s eating behaviour. This can relate to a more rigid eating behaviour, or a more flexible eating behaviour. It has been suggested that a more flexible approach to eating behaviour leads to better long-term weight maintenance.
Attempts to completely avoid certain food, or food groups, may lead to a feeling of deprivation in the dieter. This may also encourage an ‘all or nothing’ approach in other parts of that individual’s life. On the other hand, a more flexible approach to one’s diet, an approach characterised by ‘more or less’, may promote a better outlook, and lead to greater weight maintenance.
What does this mean in practice? This means that, from time to time, it’s okay to switch some fruit for some chocolate, for example. As long as the chocolate is not eaten consistently, and/or as long as the individual is not in caloric excess by consistently eating the chocolate, then having some chocolate form time to time is actually MORE BENEFICIAL – from a weight maintenance perspective – than avoiding chocolate completely.
How to maintain weight loss
This is how the research summed up the successful weight maintainer:
This ideal person starts losing weight successfully quite early in treatment and reaches the self-determined weight loss goal. Our ideal weight maintainer leads an active life with less television watching and rather more leisure time activities such as walking and cycling. He or she continues to monitor the weight-related behaviours, is in control over eating behaviour and is not overly disturbed by hunger. Food intake is kept at a lower level, the meal rhythm is regular, always including breakfast…
…Snacking is reduced. Cravings can somehow be dealt with. If experiencing a relapse though, our weight maintainer can manage to handle this in a balanced way without exaggerating this as a detrimental failure. Controls are flexible rather than rigid and there is a self-sufficiency and autonomy. The patients should rather be encouraged to find their very unique personal solutions and inner capacities
[“always including breakfast” is a statement widely refuted in terms of weight loss/maintenance. A plethora of studies show that breakfast, in and of itself, is not necessary for weight loss or weight maintenance, and many people actually do very well by moving breakfast back. However, ‘eating breakfast’ is generally seen as a ‘healthy behaviour’, and healthy behaviours go together! Eat breakfast if you like it and it suits your lifestyle; don’t force yourself to eat breakfast if you don’t want to, or if it doesn’t suit your lifestyle]
How to maintain weight loss – summary
Despite dieting not being a straightforward process, losing weight is achievable for most people. Unfortunately the part that most people then struggle with is how to maintain weight loss.
When people engage in an attempt to lose weight, being realistic in regard to how much weight their aiming for will positively impact their chances of long-term success. For example a 2% of bodyweight initially would be a good place to begin. If this is achieved, they may then have the confidence to aim for a further 3% reduction (on the initial starting weight, not the new weight). Overall, a 5% reduction in weight leads to huge health benefits. Attempts should then be made to ensure this progress is not lost, and that weight maintenance is achieved over the following 2-5 years. Consistent meals patterns, physical activity, sufficient sleep, effective food choices are just some of the behaviours that may help; plenty more are suggestive of long-term weight maintenance success.