Congratulations. You’ve done it! With exercise and a healthy diet, you’ve finally got yourself down to the weight you want to be.
Now comes the hard part – keeping it off. Relatively speaking, losing weight is easy. It’s just a matter of taking in less calories than you expend.
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Over a short time, you can lose weight with just about any diet, whether it’s a healthy diet consisting of clean, nutrient-rich foods, or a fad diet that’s low in nutrients and full of processed foods with unhealthy additives. Just eat less – it doesn’t matter what you eat – and move more; you’ll get thinner.
Maintaining a healthy weight, however, is much harder. Research shows that only 20 percent of overweight dieters are able to maintain a loss of at least 10 percent of their original body weight for more than a year. The other 80 percent gain the weight back.
Staying at your target weight involves much more than cutting calories. To keep from putting the pounds back on, you need to implement lifestyle changes you can maintain forever. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Focus on clean eating
When you eat foods that are toxin-free and rich in nutrients and antioxidants, you feel good. On the other hand, eating foods that are low in nutrients and full of toxins will make you feel tired and low on energy. When you feel this way, your body’s natural response is to tell you that you’re hungry. After all, the only way you can get the nutrients you need is by eating.
This leads to a vicious cycle. You eat non-nutritious food, and you feel hungry and tired because your body isn’t getting the minerals and vitamins it needs. You eat more non-nutritious food, and you’re even more tired and more hungry. So you keep eating. You probably crave sweets, as eating sugary foods is the quickest way to obtain energy. This can lead to sugar addiction.
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Soon, you’ll find you’re back to your old weight, or even heavier than you were before.
With a clean diet, you’ll feel nourished and won’t take in more calories than your body needs.
2. Stock up on healthy foods
You can promise yourself that you’ll only eat clean, but if you’re hungry and all you can find in your cabinets are some boxes of children’s cereal and macaroni and cheese, you’re more likely to eat them than to take a trip to the greengrocer for some fruit.
If it’s been a long day and your fridge is empty, you’re more likely to order Chinese food or a pizza for dinner than go shopping for healthy ingredients so you can cook something at home.
Keep clean foods on hand, and you won’t be tempted to eat toxic foods.
3. Plan your meals and snacks
If you aren’t careful, you can easily run out of nutritious food. Get in the habit of planning your meals and snacks.
Before you shop, make a list that contains all the items you need. This way, you’ll always have enough clean foods to satisfy you until your next shopping trip.
Sticking to a shopping list will also help you avoid the unhealthy temptations that store owners place in almost every aisle.
4. Prepare for special occasions
You can’t spend your whole life avoiding going to parties or dining out. Before you go, think about how you can enjoy yourself and still eat healthily.
5. Set up an exercise schedule
When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, exercise is as important as diet. Unfortunately, for many people, exercise is something to do when they aren’t too busy doing anything else.
If you’re going to keep excess weight off, exercise has to be a priority.
Make it a regular part of your life. Set up an exercise schedule and stick to it. Get up early and exercise before work, visit the gym during your lunch break or go for a run after dinner. Choose whatever time is right for you.
6. Go for variety
Human beings are natural omnivores, and we need to eat a wide variety of foods in order to obtain all our essential nutrients. We’re programmed to seek variety in our diets. If you eat the same foods again and again, you’ll soon be craving change.
Experiment with different types of healthy foods. Visit different stores. Try foods associated with different ethnic backgrounds. Use different cooking methods and different spices.
Shake up your exercise routine occasionally, too. If you perform the same exercises repeatedly, your body will get used to them. It will take you less energy to perform them, and you’ll burn fewer calories. Changing your exercise routine will help you keep the weight off and keep you from getting bored with your workouts.
7. Be kind to yourself
If you succumb to a craving for a bag of processed, salty potato chips, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just try to eat healthier foods from then on.
One indiscretion won’t undo all your weight loss efforts. However, telling yourself that you’ve failed can. Stay positive, and the pounds will stay off.