This is the New Year so many people will just be starting their weight loss journeys. But what happens when you achieve your ideal weight?
What do you do to make sure you keep all of the progress that you’ve made?
So, you have lost weight and are now happy with your current weight. What next?
You don’t want to keep losing weight now and you feel like you have more room to enjoy yourself (more biscuits, drinking and cake).
This is partly true.
Since you no longer need to stay in the calorie deficit (consuming less energy than you use) which helped you lose weight, it means you can eat a bit more.
That doesn’t mean you can go absolutely crazy and eat whatever you want as you’ll end up reversing the great progress you have made.
What should I do?
Well what you should do to maintain your weight loss depends on how you lost the weight in the first place.
What did you do differently? Were you eating smaller portions, counting calories, on a slimming world/ weight watchers diet or something just s simple as eating more vegetables and less snacks?
Whatever you did, it must have worked to get you to this point. Now you can slowly increase what you eat, but do this gradually so you can see what effect it has on your body.
You could just start having slightly bigger portion sizes again or having the odd snack now and then.
Do this for a week and see how it affects your weight.
If you maintain your weight then this is how you can continue to eat. However if you have gained weight, you have made too bigger change and need to either eat less again or exercise more.
The most important thing is to not go back to how you ate when before you started losing weight. If you ate the same way you used to, guess what? You’ll end up back where you started.
Don’t go overboard
It may be tempting to think you can eat so much more now because you are no longer wanting to lose weight. However, since you weigh less, your body now burns less calories than it did before you lost any weight. Although if you are more active and exercise regularly this means your body will burn more calories.
If you have been on a strict diet, suddenly changing to eating chips, cake and fatty foods will be a huge change for your body. If you don’t track your calories you might not know how much you were eating during the diet which makes it difficult to know how much extra you can eat now to maintain weight.
This is the problem with being on a “diet”. If you are eating specific foods with no room for enjoyment it can make it very difficult to maintain the weight once you stop (and it is hard to stick to the diet in the first place). Yes they may help you lose weight but could you eat the foods it recommends for the rest of your life? A lot of the time, strict diets don’t allow for parties or nights out and so don’t really allow for life getting in the way. This means you couldn’t keep the diet up forever, so it’s difficult to maintain the weight loss through them.
Groups such as slimming world and weight watchers offer a better alternative, since you have some freedom on these diets. You can still enjoy your favourite foods but understand you can’t have too much of them. If you are on one of these diets and you want to maintain your weight loss this usually means you can eat more of the foods you enjoy, but generally keep what you eat most of the time the same.
If you have been counting calories you can now increase the number of calories you are consuming since you are no longer trying to lose weight. You can either use a calorie calculator to see what your daily recommended number of calories is or just slowly increase the number of calories you are eating and make sure you are not gaining weight. If you start gaining weight just drop the calories back down a little bit and you should be able to maintain your weight eating around this much.
How long should I do this for?
This may be a scary answer but you need to be able to do it forever.
If you want to maintain your ideal weight you can’t just eat healthily for 3 months and then stop. You need to find a way in which you can eat well and maintain your weight, which you can keep up for the rest of your life.
You can’t go on a “diet” as these are usually only for a certain length of time whereas we need to keep it up forever.
Through losing weight in the first place, we will have a good idea of what we changed in our own diets that has had a big impact. Eating more vegetables, more lean protein and less high calorie foods (crisps, chocolate, cake etc.) are the starting points which will lead you to losing weight. And now you’ve lost the weight, you still have to keep these things up. However you do have more room to manoeuvre so you can enjoy chocolate a little more often or have a packet of crisps some days. But there is no diet or pill in the world good enough to help you lose or maintain weight while eating as much as you want of whatever you want.
Which is the best way to start my weight loss?
There is no single best diet or way of losing weight to choose.
It all depends on your personal preference.
If you have time and want to be accurate in knowing exactly what you are eating and how it affects you, calorie counting could be a good way to go. It takes time to enter what you have eaten but will breakdown what you are eating and shows the calories contained. This will help show you which foods are perfect on your diet and which are causing you to struggle to lose weight. Once you have learnt this you may not need to count calories so religiously since you’ll have an idea of the nutritional values of most foods.
However, calorie counting is not a good option for those who don’t want a big commitment. It can be time consuming and tedious entering exactly what you have eaten and how much it weighed etc. So instead you could try a group such as Slimming World or Weight Watchers. These groups give you guidelines on what to eat and what to avoid. Also, you can still enjoy your favourite foods but must understand that you must limit them. This is great for anyone and doesn’t take up much time however does cost. The groups do then provide motivation and support for your weight loss journey.
My advice for losing weight is very simple. Try eating more vegetables and more protein. Try eating less unhealthy, snacky foods and drink more water. If you put these things into practice I can almost guarantee you will lose weight. These points are the basis of almost every diet going.
Just know that the simpler the changes you make, the more likely you are to stick to them.