By Gigi Amurao
After weeks or months of dieting and putting in the work at the gym every day, you finally hit your goal weight. Congratulations, you did it!
You stayed committed, worked hard, sacrificed a lot, and here you are—a slimmer, sexier, lighter best version of yourself. Losing weight for a competition, an event, or for health reasons is no easy task, but after you’ve lost 20, 30 or even 40 pounds, your next question is going to be, “How do I keep looking this way?”
The scary truth is that most dieters eventually weigh more than they did before they started dieting. It’s quite common in the fitness industry as well as in “the real world” for people to go on a diet, achieve their goal—and then end up gaining back all the weight and more within a few months.
Why would anyone let that happened after working so hard to lose it? There are many reasons, and everyone has their own story, but in most cases it’s due more to a mental rather than a physical reason. At the end of the day, their journey to weight loss didn’t become a lifestyle; it was just a slight change in their lives—a quick fix to accomplish a goal.
In order to maintain weight loss, you have to take a different approach from what you did when your sole goal was to lose the weight. Now you must look at fitness and healthy eating as a way of life. You must accept the ups and downs of gaining and losing, the good and bad days, and become conscious always of the foods you eat, in addition to incorporating exercise into your routine.
The key to reaching your ideal weight and maintaining your new svelte image is to make long-term changes to your diet and lifestyle that you can stick with—indefinitely. Here are some tips that keep me in check after I step off the stage and hang up my heels for the off-season. I hope they can help you stay motivated and keep those pounds off for good.
- Know that you’re doing this for YOU! Take some time to think about what’s really important to you and how your weight ties into it. For example, maybe you want to grow old and see your grandkids grow up, or you want to feel healthier and finally be able to travel and do fun activities with your family. Whatever your reason, make sure that you’re doing it for you and that losing weight and keeping it off will add value and happiness to your life.
- Stay active and keep training. This is not the time to get lazy. Yes, you can lose weight just by changing your diet, but in order to maintain that weight loss, you must add physical activity. Exercise and diet go hand in hand; you can’t expect to maintain what you achieved by doing only half the work. Incorporating exercise into your schedule is a must, and it’s a habit that you’ll have to work at. Hitting the gym three to four times a week is ideal to keep you feeling good and hiding back the pounds. Make it a priority.
- Plan ahead. It’s likely you developed the habits of planning ahead, cooking your meals, and being prepared no matter what in order to reach your goal. To keep the pounds off, you have to hold your diet in check and be aware of your eating habits regardless of changes in your routine, such as eating out, weekend events, or holidays. Just as you were doing before, you should continue to plan ahead, prep your meals, and schedule cheat meals appropriately.
- Weigh yourself. This may be hard for some people, but order to keep things in check, you have to be accountable. Weigh yourself regularly every two weeks or monthly. That’s more than enough to see if you’re falling off track and need to pull in the reins.
- Check in. If you have a coach or trainer who helped you get to where you are, make sure you check in with him or her from time to time. Reach out regularly to all those who supported you on your journey, and let them know how you’re feeling. If you feel that you are slipping and need some motivation, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Your support system is there to help you, and they don’t want to see you go backward.
- Keep it interesting and set goals. We all need variety, especially when it comes to fitness. Hitting the gym day in and day out can be monotonous, so if you feel yourself bored and slipping into your old ways, mix things up. Go hiking, ride your bike on the trails, take a cardio class or boot camp. Exercise isn’t just all about the gym; you can get a great workout while doing something fun. In addition, always set new goals that help motivate you into keeping up with your new healthful diet and exercise regimen. It’s not easy to lose weight, especially if you have a lot to lose and you’re new to fitness and to the gym in general. So, when you do reach your goal, be proud of how far you have come, but don’t stop there. Maintaining your body is a lifelong task of changing bad habits and acquiring new ones. When you adopt fitness and a healthy diet as your new way of life, it makes maintaining your weight loss much easier.