Is It Possible to Maintain a Healthy Weight Long Term?
The short answer is "yes". The long answer is that it takes a lot of support, vigilance, and effort, but yes, it is perfectly possible. In fact, we see hundreds of customers in our clinics every week holding a new, healthier weight and finding it a lot easier than ever before.
This is because we offer our customers a very specific “maintenance program” in which they take part in regular monthly appointments to check their weight. This is extremely successful. Research has shown that nearly 90 percent of our maintenance customers manage to lose weight over many years after their initial weight loss. It just works! We give our clients techniques to overcome habits that can slip. We help you stay motivated. We are with them and support them all the way and in some cases for many years after the initial weight loss is achieved.
The science of long-term weight loss maintenance
Traditionally, weight management was thought in simple terms of calories in versus calories out. The thought was that if we eat more than we burn, we gain weight, and vice versa. While this is still true, the nature of weight management is now understood to be far more complex.
Accountability, for example, is critical to avoiding weight gain. All of our weight loss customers keep a daily diary of food intake, exercise and other factors. You bring it with you to discuss with us at every meeting. For customers who have problems, we can discuss together why this might be the case and what changes and optimizations can be made to "catch" it before it becomes a problem. This means that small weight gains during the maintenance phase are less likely to become large ones that are difficult to reverse.
6 tips for maintaining weight loss in the long term
- Watch out for leptin! Fat cells are metabolically active and secrete a hormone called leptin. Leptin signals to the brain that you have enough fat reserves. This will make you feel less hungry. When you lose weight, you lose fat cells and produce less leptin. As a result, you may feel hungrier than before. Leptin can be stimulated by eating certain foods, especially those that contain healthy fats. So make sure you eat foods like almonds, Greek yogurt, and high fiber foods like vegetables and always whole grains, complex carbohydrates, and no white varieties. Getting enough sleep and consuming omega-3 supplements (or eating tons of oily fish) can also help stimulate this crucial hormone.
- Eat a whole food 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 addicting and manufacturers know this all too well. Look at your kids eating junk food. Can you stop after a jelly? For me, it's salty carbohydrates like Doritos or white baguettes – I rarely have them around the house and that way I find it a lot easier to maintain my weight and keep making good choices. I'm not perfect and I have no intention of being perfect, but I know that some foods can make my brain eat more than I want. That's why I just want to be one step ahead. Read our blog "Unprocess your Diet" here.
- Have "clever" groceries ready: By that I mean foods that make your brain believe you have eaten something sweet or something that makes you feel full. For me, a smoothie with some fruit, spinach, protein powder and a pinch of agave works, or I make my own homemade ice cream with a ripe banana mixed with frozen raspberries and Greek yogurt – freeze and it's a brilliant ice cream. When I feel like something in the evening, I also have a motivational protein bar or a large tablespoon of almond butter. When I have more time, some homemade protein balls made from cashews, dates, coconut oil, cocoa powder, and coconut are rolled and then chilled.
- Practice the "right" way: If you lose weight, your resting metabolism is likely to slow down (it seems so unfair!). For this reason, it makes sense to do a little more sport than before losing weight to counteract the slowed metabolism. And while cardio is great to do – hiking, biking, or swimming – nothing beats the metabolic hike you get from resistance or weight training. You could start small with just four simple exercises – squats, lunges, pushups, and crunches – and then build from there.
- Don't be complacent: Most of us tend to relax when we reach a weight loss goal. We naturally become less cautious about what we eat and may be less motivated to exercise. But while relaxing is great, you don't get so complacent that you start sliding backwards. Do you remember all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle beyond weight and what you look like? Increased Energy, Confidence, and Positivity? Enjoy them and keep setting yourself new health goals, whether you meditate or do more mountain hikes. Keep building on everything you've learned. Remember, the body is actively trying to regain all of the fat it once had back (unfortunately, fat cells don't just magically go away) so the correct response is vigilance. The good news is that it gets easier when things take for granted, but keep working on it, especially this first year after losing weight.
- Try to minimize stress: For most of us, stress plays a role in binge eating or handling food to numb or distract. This is where stress-relieving techniques become critical to avoiding weight gain. A strong social support network is very helpful in stress management, as are effective stress management strategies. Dealing with stress can take several forms – a mind-body exercise such as yoga, meditation, listening to relaxing music, massage, spending time in nature, and others. Or learn some simple CBT psychology techniques that can help you get a new perspective on things – read more about them here.
If you would like to learn more about our weight maintenance programs, please do not hesitate to contact us. One of our trained advisors would be happy to speak to you and explain in more detail how you can maintain your weight loss over the long term.
Being able to save weight will depend on a variety of factors, including the amount of support, the way you eat, and the nature of your attitude. I used to struggle to lose weight only to find it even harder to keep it off. I often find myself in a yo-yo cycle in which I lose and then regain. It was so demoralizing. But now, after working with motivation for nearly a decade, I've learned so many brilliant techniques to stay at a healthier weight. I can put on a few pounds over the holidays or Christmas, but I always manage to pull it back, especially knowing my triggers now and being vigilant when keeping an eye on them. Thankfully, controlling my weight has never been easier.