You’ve set your weight goal, you’ve planned out your exercise regime and you’ve become a member at your local gym – now, you just have to maintain that level of enthusiasm to reach those numbers! While losing weight may seem a daunting task, a few simple techniques can keep you motivated for the long haul, and allow you to have fun in the process.
Maintaining Your Diet
Avoid fad or crash diets
When you put yourself on a diet of maple syrup and chili powder, it’s pretty obvious that you’re not going to stick with it. Even diets that are carb-free or all-protein are recipes for non-committal. When something isn’t natural and do-able, it’s bound to be short-lived. There’s no quick fix for long-term weight loss.
- If your diet involves severe calorie limitations, self-induced vomiting, cutting entire categories of foods (or only consuming one category), using laxatives or weight-loss medications or products, it’s not healthy. You’ll be better off (and more motivated) with a diet that makes you look good and feel good – for a long, long time.
Never set foods off-limits
The older we get, the more we think we’re not like children, but we still are. If you set three toys in front of a child and tell them they can’t have the third one, which one will they want to play with? The same goes with your food. If you can’t have dessert, you’ll want it all the more. So instead of eliminating it, just limit it. Let yourself have a bite. Otherwise you’ll just eat everything else!
- Telling yourself you can’t have something just feels terrible. It’s a punishment and it starts the negative thinking train rolling down the tracks. The truth is a bite of that cake won’t make you gain weight – but three pieces will.
Find alternative ways to cope with emotions
When friends gather, be it in celebration, commiseration, or just to kill time, what do they do? They eat (or drink). When we’re happy, we eat. When we’re sad, we eat. When we have nothing better to do, we eat. Unfortunately, that’s good for no dieter. Alternative methods of feeling must be had!
- Start thinking about when and why you eat, not just what. Maybe you always eat mindlessly when you’re watching television, or maybe you go straight to the fridge when you’re stressed. When you become aware of your patterns, it becomes easier to determine the cause. Start by keeping your hands busy – reading, or doing a word puzzle can keep you from grabbing the popcorn.
Ask for support
Everything is easier to do when you’re not doing it alone. Even if all your family/friends/roommates/strangers you live with couldn’t care less about their own health or weight loss, they can make your path to success a bit easier. If they know what your plan is, they’ll be less likely to tempt you to the dark side with cookies.
- A super easy way to find support from like-minded people is to join a group like Weight Watchers. If your own social network isn’t fighting the weight battle (which would be hard to believe since practically everyone is), joining a group like this can be infinitely beneficial in staying on track.
Write your food journal
Those who write down everything they eat are often more successful at losing weight than those who don’t. Concretely facing what you’re eating puts it in a new light – you’ll notice patterns and be forced to look at your bad habits.
- Get a food journaling partner if at all possible. Eating 4 Snickers bars is a lot more embarrassing when you have to tell someone else of the dirty deed. The more responsible you have to be, the more likely you’ll stick to it.
Reassess your diet plan
As you diet and lose weight, your body gets used to your new habits and needs fewer calories with each pound you lose. You’ll notice that that 1700-calorie diet you’re on just isn’t giving you the results you once had. Bummer. If it’s not working, why stick with it, right? Because of this, you’ll need to reassess and adjust your diet plan.
- The skinnier you are, the fewer calories you need to intake. At a point, this becomes quite difficult. You could cut back the calories a bit, but the easier way would be to add on more physical activity.