Food For Thought

Weight loss concept with a scale on a wood floor

Maintaining Weight Loss Takes Work

Coach Caroline, 05/18/2016

Every few months or so, I need to tighten up my gustatory reins. Yes, even I, health coach and nutrition consultant, periodically let my guard down and begin descending the slow but slippery slope into old eating patterns. In fact, I did it just now by drizzling an extra dab of tahini butter on my breakfast!

An extra dab? What can that matter, a few measly grams—maybe 20 calories’ worth—of tahini butter?

True, one little drizzle doesn’t mean much—but neither does one cigarette. The problem is that one cigarette usually turns into two, then three, then a half-pack a day. That innocent drizzle at breakfast can turn into a couple of extra walnuts here, a spoonful of almond butter there. Luckily, sooner or later, the bathroom scale will alert me to the consequences of my little “cheats,” and I recommit to sticking to my healthy eating plan and weighing or measuring every stray morsel (and drizzle) that I put in my mouth.

Maintenance is hard

Losing weight is itself a grand undertaking, but maintaining that weight loss is, in some ways, even harder.

You see, during the weight loss phase, you get the reinforcing pleasures of watching the scale go down, buying a new wardrobe, and reveling in all those wonderful compliments about how good you look. Weight maintenance brings an anticlimactic end to all that.

Now it’s just the daily grind, only in a thinner body. But what hasn’t changed is the overabundance of highly refined and addictive food out there, which you still have to resist consistently in order to retain your newly whittled down personage.

Plan and talk back

This is why I’m such a huge advocate for planning your meals ahead of time (at least the day before, because an hour before won’t do). Making decisions in the heat of the moment, while in the throes of a mad craving or even just regular old hunger, rarely works because willpower is low at those times. Once you enter maintenance, your mind can easily rationalize, “Well, I can’t be perfect all the time!” as you reach for the foil-encrusted Lindt truffle on your secretary’s desk. With a food plan, you aren’t at the mercy of hunger or craving. If you’ve already decided what to eat and have it available, there’s no need to decide whether perfection is necessary or not. Instead, you can remind yourself, “I can always plan to have pizza for lunch tomorrow, if I want. That way, I know I’m in charge and not my cravings.”

Be one of the few

Only a small percentage of folks (somewhere between five and twenty, depending on how you count them) actually reach and maintain a healthy weight. All those happy carnivore-turned-health-nut-and-lost-100-pounds success stories you read? Well, most of their 5-year follow-ups would make for an epic tragedy. As you reach the maintenance phase of your weight loss program, don’t stop whatever you’ve been doing to help you lose weight. Keep up with the healthy habits that helped you trim down and you’ll continue reaping all the health-promoting benefits of a nutrient-dense diet style.


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