Losing weight can be a massive challenge by itself, that’s no secret. Many of us across Michigan and the United States have tried to shed a few pounds at one time or another. Of those that have had success losing weight, however, a large percentage have encountered a different challenge, weight loss maintenance.
As many as 90 percent of people who lose a significant amount of weight end up gaining it back. Oftentimes people will blame themselves, citing lack of self-control as the main culprit. The fact of the matter is, however, that losing a significant amount of weight changes actually our psychology.
At Forum Health, we specialize in helping patients overcome the roadblocks that appear during a person’s weight loss journey. Our nutritional experts and weight loss maintenance coaches in West Bloomfield create personalized treatment plans that not only help you lose weight, but keep it off long term. In this blog, we’ll discuss the best methods for maintaining your weight loss results.
Why Do People Have Trouble Keeping Weight Off?
So, let’s say you’ve started your weight loss program. After a few months, you’ve lost a significant amount of weight and you look and feel better than you have in years. You’re getting a ton of compliments from friends, family, and coworkers; everything’s going great. Over time, however, you notice that your habits start to slip and before too long, you’re back at your original weight.
Unfortunately, that exact scenario has played out for thousands of people, perhaps even multiple times. Some may look at this as a lack of commitment or follow-through, believing that these people simply lack the self-control necessary to maintain their results. Though lack of self-control can certainly be a factor, the truth is that our body’s natural biology often makes it hard to achieve weight loss maintenance.
Fighting Against Biology
For starters, your body’s metabolism naturally slows as you lose a significant amount of weight. When you’re at a certain weight for a long period of time, your body becomes used to operating at that weight. And because your weight is higher, your body naturally burns more energy trying to move around and do basic daily functions. When you have a higher metabolism, it also means that your daily calorie requirements are higher.
When your body’s metabolism slows down, that means a person has to consume fewer calories in order to actually lose or maintain weight. The problem is, as you lose weight, your body and brain will do everything in their power to maintain the weight they are used to.
When you lose a significant amount of weight, your leptin levels will drop. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain when you’re full, basically letting it know to stop eating. When your leptin levels drop, it essentially puts your body into starvation mode and makes you hungry more often. This leads to people eating more calories than what their metabolism requires.
In some cases, people end up eating even more than before as a natural response to “make up” for the weight they lost. So, while a lack of self-control may be a factor, it’s important to understand the kind of battle that you’re fighting against your own body. Your natural biology makes weight loss maintenance a difficult challenge
So, How Do I Actually Maintain My Results?
Even though it can seem like your own body is actively sabotaging your weight loss results, it’s no reason to give up. With the help of an experienced team of nutritional experts and weight-loss coaches—like the ones at Forum Health— you can overcome your body’s natural impulses and achieve sustained success with your goals.
Working with our staff, we’ll help give you all the tools you need for long-term weight loss maintenance. With that being said, patient accountability is still key for a successful outcome. We use scientifically proven methods to deliver results, but it will ultimately be up to you, the patient, to properly follow the instructions given. These instructions will include the following:
Changing your daily lifestyle is, by far, the most crucial element of sustained weight loss maintenance. The most important part of this lifestyle change is healthier eating habits. As important as exercise is (and we’ll get to that importance shortly), the vast majority of your weight loss battle will be fought in the kitchen. There’s a reason that the saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet” exists!
Because your appetite will likely increase as a result of your weight loss, it’s all the more essential to make healthier choices when you do eat. Obviously, this will include subbing out things like processed foods, red meat, candy, junk food, and more with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and foods that are high in fiber.
That said, we find that the best results come from subbing out unhealthy foods with healthier options that you actually enjoy. Sure, in an ideal world, it would be great if you ate nothing but the recommended amount of fruits, veggies, and lean protein for every meal. But it doesn’t work like that. Many of us enjoy the occasional cheeseburger and fries, chocolate cake, or sugary drink (alcoholic or otherwise) on the weekend.
The key to weight loss maintenance isn’t to cut those things out completely, but to reduce how often you consume them. If you purposely deprive yourself of eating or drinking something you like, you’re all the more likely to crave these foods even more.
It’s Okay to Have An Occasional Cheat Day
This is where many people fall into a trap. They completely dedicate themselves to clean eating, have a few meals where they indulge (this is especially common during vacations or social settings), notice that they gain a few pounds, and then completely relapse and fall back into old habits.
The thing is, it’s completely okay to have a few meals where you indulge! In fact, there are legitimate health benefits to having a “cheat day” every now and again. The key is to not feel down about gaining a few pounds and turn a cheat day into multiple cheat days (or cheat weeks).
Generally, we recommend following an 80/20 rule when trying to achieve weight loss maintenance. That means that 80 percent of your meals should be healthy and stick to your eating plan, while the remaining 20 percent is reserved for eating the foods you love and crave.
Not only is this a healthy ratio from a physical standpoint, but giving yourself flexibility gives you something to look forward to throughout the week. It’s a lot easier to eat healthily and stick to your plan when you know you can reward yourself with an indulgent meal at the end of the week! Our weight loss specialists and nutritional coaches can help develop a plan that’s specifically tailored for your individual needs and goals.
However, Don’t Forget About Exercise
Though the vast majority of your weight loss maintenance results will come from what you consume, it’s still essential to add consistent physical activity as part of your lifestyle change. It is entirely possible to gain weight, despite eating healthy, if you live a completely sedentary lifestyle.
At the most fundamental level, weight loss can only occur when you’re in a caloric deficit (i.e. burning more calories than you consume). Regular exercise and burning a few hundred calories per day is a great way to achieve that deficit! Not to mention, there are benefits to regular exercise from a physiological and mental standpoint as well.
Like with healthy eating, the best way to get the benefits from regular exercise is to engage in activities that you genuinely enjoy. If you have a workout plan that you actually like, you’re far more likely to stick to it. Whether that’s walking around the block 30 minutes per day, strength training, or playing pickup basketball at the park, you should find something that works for you specifically.
What Types of Physical Activity Are There?
In terms of the recommended amount of exercise, the CDC recommends doing a moderate aerobic activity about 150 minutes per week (roughly 20 minutes per day). Moderate aerobic activities include things like walking, golfing, mowing the lawn, and more.
If you prefer running or don’t have that much time to devote, you can also get the same results from 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (about 10 minutes per day). Vigorous aerobic activity includes things like running, jogging, swimming fast, intense bike riding, and more.
Additionally, the CDC also recommends that people engage in strength training (such as weight lifting) to increase muscle strength. Ideally, patients should shoot for 40- to 60-minute sessions.
With that being said, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to exercising. Some people have certain physical limitations that prevent them from doing specific exercises. Other people are incredibly busy and don’t have a ton of time to devote to physical activity (especially in the case of people with families or high-pressure jobs).
At Forum Health, our specialists and weight loss coaches in West Bloomfield can help develop an exercise plan that’s crafted around your needs, goals, and limitations. We also offer frequent check-ins designed specifically to help with your weight loss maintenance efforts.
At the end of the day, the best exercise plan is the one that you stick to. If you have certain activities you enjoy and enough time to do them, that’s great! If you have certain challenges or limitations, we can work around them and find productive alternatives. Even if it’s as small as taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, or walking to the grocery store instead of driving.
Ready to Lose Weight and Keep it Off? Schedule Your Consultation with Forum Health!
When you work with a Forum Health location in Michigan, you’ll benefit from professional weight-loss support and a plan that’s personalized to your needs. Each aspect of your diet, lifestyle, activity level, travel plans, and more will be taken into account. In addition to helping you lose weight, we can help you maintain your results with personalized weight loss maintenance sessions.
Schedule a consultation today or start by receiving a free lifestyle analysis on our website. Before you know it, you’ll be taking the first step toward a happier, healthier lifestyle!