Is it Possible to Sustain a Healthy Weight Long-Term?
The short answer is ‘yes’. The long answer is that it requires a lot of support, vigilance and effort but yes, it’s entirely possible. In fact, we see hundreds of clients in our clinics each week who are maintaining a new, healthier weight and they find it much easier than they ever did previously.
That’s because we offer a very specific ‘Maintenance Programme’ for our clients, where they attend regular, monthly appointments to keep a check on their weight. This is hugely successful, with research showing that almost 90 per cent of our clients on Maintenance manage to keep the weight off for many years following their initial weight loss. It simply works! We give our clients techniques to conquer habits that can slip. We help keep them motivated. We are with them, supporting them, all the way and, in some cases, for many years after the initial weight loss has been achieved.
The Science of Maintaining Weight Loss Long-Term
Traditionally, weight management was thought about in simple terms of calories in versus calories out. The thinking was that if we eat more than we burn off, we gain weight and vice-versa. While this is still true, the nature of weight management is now understood to be considerably more complex.
Accountability, for instance, is crucial for avoiding weight gain. All of our weight loss clients keep a daily journal of food intake, exercise and other factors. They bring it in to discuss with us at each meeting. For clients who are struggling, we can discuss together why that might be and what changes and tweaks that can be made in order to ‘catch’ it before it becomes a problem. This means that small weight gains during the Maintenance phase are less likely to become big ones that are hard to reverse.
6 Tips to Maintaining Weight Loss Long-Term
- Watch out for leptin! Fat cells are metabolically active and secrete a hormone called leptin. Leptin signals the brain that you have enough fat stores. This causes you to feel less hungry. When you lose weight, you lose fat cells and produce less leptin. As a result, you can feel hungrier than you did before. Leptin can be stimulated by eating certain foods, particularly those containing healthy fats. So do make sure that you are eating foods such as almonds, Greek yoghurt and foods high in fibre, such as vegetables and always wholegrain, complex carbs rather than white varieties. Also getting enough sleep and consuming Omega-3 supplements (or eating tons of oily fish) can help stimulate this crucial hormone.
- Eat a wholefoods diet: We are only now beginning to fully understand the damage that processed, high sugar foods have done to our bodies over the past two decades. Certain foods are made to be addictive, and the manufacturers know it all too well. Just take a look at your kids when they are eating junk foods. Can they stop after one jelly? For me, it’s salty carbs like Doritos or white baguettes – I can rarely have them in the house and, that way, I find it so much easier to maintain my weight and continue making good choices. I’m not perfect, and I don’t intend on being perfect, but I do know that some foods can trick my brain into eating more than I want, so I’m just aiming to be one step ahead. Read our blog ‘Unprocess your Diet’ here.
- Have ‘clever’ foods to hand: By this, I mean foods that ‘trick’ your brain into thinking you’ve eaten something sweet or something that makes you feel full. For me, a smoothie with some fruit, spinach, protein powder and a dash of agave works, or I make my own homemade ice-cream with a ripe banana blended with frozen raspberries and Greek Yoghurt – freeze and it’s a brilliant ‘pretend’ ice-cream. Similarly, if I’m craving something in the evening, I’ll have a Motivation protein bar or a large dessertspoonful of almond butter works a treat. If I’ve more time on my hands, some homemade protein balls made from cashews, dates, coconut oil, cacao powder and rolled in coconut, then refrigerated.
- Exercise the ‘right’ way: When you lose weight, your resting metabolism will probably slow down (it seems so unfair!). This is why it makes sense to exercise a bit more than you did before you lost weight to counteract that slowed metabolism. And while it’s great to do cardio – walking, cycling or swimming – nothing really beats the metabolic hike you get from resistance or weight training. You could start small with just four simple exercises – squats, lunges, push-ups and crunches and then build from there.
- Don’t be complacent: Most of us tend to relax when we’ve reached a weight loss goal. We naturally become less careful about what we eat are perhaps less motivated to exercise. But, although it’s great to relax, don’t become so complacent that you start to slip backwards. Remember all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle that go beyond just weight and how you look? Increased energy, confidence and positivity? Relish in them and keep setting yourself new health goals, whether that is to start meditating or to do hill walks more. Keep building on all you’ve learnt. Remember that the body actively tries to gain all the fat it once had back (fat cells don’t just magically disappear unfortunately) so the correct response is vigilance. The good news is that it does become easier, as things become second-nature, but keep working at it, particularly in that first year after losing weight.
- Try to minimise stress: For most of us, stress plays a role in binge eating or turning to foods to help numb or distract. This is where stress-busting techniques become crucial in helping to avoid weight regain. A strong social support network is very helpful in stress management, as is having effective strategies for managing stress. Managing stress can come in a variety of forms – a mind-body exercise, like yoga, meditation, listening to relaxing music, massage, time spent in nature, and others. Or learn some simple CBT psychology techniques that can help you gain a new perspective on things – read more about this here.
If you’d like to learn more about our Weight Maintenance Programmes, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. One of our trained advisors would be happy to talk to you and explain in more detail about maintaining your weight loss long-term.
Being able to keep weight off depends on a multitude of factors including the amount of support you get, the way you eat and the type of attitude you have. I used to struggle to lose weight, only to find it even harder to keep it off. I’d often be in a ‘yo-yo’ cycle of losing and then regaining. It was so demoralising. But now, having worked with Motivation for almost a decade, I’ve learnt so many brilliant techniques to stay at a healthier weight. I may gain a few pounds during the holidays, or at Christmas, but I always manage to pull it back, particularly because I know my triggers now, and I’m vigilant in keeping an eye on it. Thankfully, managing my weight has never been easier.