Updated: Jun 29, 2022
The topic of weight loss can be very confusing, but how to keep it off? Well, that is in another league of bewildering!
Due to the lack of understanding of energy balance they end up putting all the weight back on or in some cases, even more than when they started!
For many, their idea of weight loss is to severely restrict calories and move more, normally cardio, and inevitably they will lose weight. But, due to the lack of understanding of energy balance they end up putting all the weight back on or in some cases, even more than when they started! And so begins the exhausting and demoralising yo-yo dieting grind of the hamster wheel where people wait until they feel dreadfully uncomfortable in their clothes, starve them selves, lose weight and then put it all back on again.
Research shows that 50% of people who lose weight, put it all back on within a year.
Research shows that 50% of people who lose weight, put it all back on within a year. So how to break this cycle? Develop good habits in the first place. That is what has proved to be so successful with my 6 week challenges, in that people are educated about nutrition and armed with lifelong knowledge about food choices.
I will outline the five success habits of those who manage to keep their weight off, but for many who have been through my challenges, there is just one simple step and that is they stay on the challenges, keeping around the 'fire' of motivation, support and accountability, whilst being able to enjoy two days each week eating whatever they so desire. And it works. This has been my routine for four years now and is seeing me through the grand fun of the menopause and HRT weight challenges too!
So why does the maintenance plan on my challenges work and how can this apply to you? Let's take a look:
1. Stick to a meal plan. So whether that is the meal plan on my challenge or one you create yourself, this is the best 'hack' you will find for losing weight and keeping weight off, because it allows you control your calories and macros. If you decide before what you are going to eat in a day, you can then shop accordingly, so you don't run out of the food and ingredients you need, putting yourself in the position of making a poor food choice when you're 'hangry', but there is nothing healthy at hand to eat. I find that following a meal plan also by-passes the 'thinking' stage with the inevitable internal dialogue about what I 'fancy' verses what I should have. If what you fancy is healthy, then hoorah! But very often, it may instead be the muffin that catches your eye at the work canteen or Costa! Instead, I just look at my plan, see what is on the agenda and now routinely just prepare that. No thinking, no debate, no drama.
2. Portion sizes: It is crucial to be aware of your portion sizes. On my challenges there is very little weighing as we use the hand portion size guide similar to above. You can find out more information from The British Nutrition Foundation as this is a great way to keep on top of your portion sizes whether you are home or eating out. Tracking your macros using an app like My Fitness Pal is of course more accurate and is what I use. Macro tracking is particaulry useful if you are already lean and are looking to get even leaner, as there is less flex in achieving a calorie deficit than if you are someone with a lot of body fat to lose. But for most people this is a bit of a faff and the hand portion guide is more popular and easier long term.
3. Keep active: NHS England recommends 30 minutes of exercise that gets you out of breath, five times a week. On my 6 week challenges we do 30 minute workouts, 6 times a week, because who wants to just scrape into the minimum recommendation, right?! Find exercise that you enjoy as you are more likely to stick with it, and try to exercise with others as well - it will keep you motivated and make you work harder! In addition to a daily workout, try and be more active such as taking the stairs instead of the lift and walking whenever you can. Walking at a steady pace burns 100 calories an hour. It's a great source of cardio with little demands on the body as well as the mental benefits from being in nature too. These are all decision/choices you can make every day as this can really add up and help with maintaining your weight loss. It's a great time to spend with your partner and kids too, at the weekends and after dinner.
4. Avoid drinking your calories: It is so easy to pack away another few hundred calories a day on drinks which can cause those pounds to start creeping back on. A chi latte from Caffe Nero, for example has 281 calories (try this coffee calorie quiz to discover the calories in your favourite beverage!). A can of coke has 139 calories which is a lot of calories for very little satiety. One of the easiest bad habits to fall back into after being on a weight loss programme is alcohol. I for one find this the most challenging part about maintaining my weight loss results. It's not easy to remember when socialising and having fun, that a 175ml glass of white wine is 159 calories. Get through a bottle and that's a eye watering 600 calories! Worst still are cocktails with a Pina colada clocking in at 230 calories a pop! EEEK!!!! If you are going to have a drink, then for damage limitation, it's best to stick to gin and slim line tonics at around 115 calories per glass. But ultimately, to maintain your results watch your alcohol consumption and stick to 3 litres of clear water each day.
5. Eat regular protein rich meals throughout the day: I am a great supporter of eating smaller meals every 2/3 hours - so roughly 5-6 meals a day. Food is thermogenic, which means it increases your metabolism which means you become more efficient at burning calories, even when sedentary. How good does that sound?! But obviously not all food is equal.... protein has the highest thermogenic qualities as it is slower to digest than fats and carbs. It also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, plus it helps promote lean muscle tissue. Win, win, win, win!!! So choose protein rich meals and snacks like chicken, fish, eggs, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans, lentils, quorn, sietan, etc. Eating regularly will also help curb unhealthy snacking as your blood sugar levels never get too low which has our bodies screaming out for those sugary snacks! I find my Herbalife shakes a particular godsend for maintaining my weight. I have two shakes a day and 3 meals. The shakes give me all my macro and micro nutrients but with just 200 calories. I have a terrible sweet tooth too, so these tick that box for me as well, making me feel like I have had a little treat whilst filling me up!
This list is not exhaustive by any means, but in my experience these are the top 5 habits of those who have lost and kept off the weight. Another great incentive is that of staying in the new clothes you have just forked out for! So make sure not to hold on to your 'big' clothes in your wardrobe, 'just in case', as you are subconsciously giving yourself permission to slip back into that place again in the future. Make a statement to yourself and make it harder practically by packing your old clothes off to the charity shop `as soon as you can! This was me in July 2018 and I relished the moment I got rid of those shorts for good! Nothing tastes as good as that feels, I can promise you! Finally, stick around others with the same mindset and goals as you. Perhaps join my next challenge on the 'maintenance programme' to help keep on track? I would love to help you keep your fabulous results from all your hard work! Message me for further info!
Happy Maintaining! x