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Jan 24 / Jeremy

How to Maintain Weight Loss

I recently read an article titled, The Fat Trap, in the New York Times.  Anyone that follows us on Facebook knows that I am not a big fan of most of what I read on the New York Times when it comes to fat loss, and this article is really no exception.  The biggest reason I am not a fan of the article is because there is a defeatist attitude about maintaining weight loss that is pervasive throughout the entire article.  Even when the author discusses people who have successfully maintained their weight loss for years, the explanation of all they have to go through to achieve this end leaves you feeling exhausted.  Sure, the author tries to put a positive bent in certain places, but overall, most people will walk away from this article feeling like their dream of losing weight and keeping it off will never happen.  Way to go New York Times.  Once again you have undercut the potential of humanity by planting seeds of defeatism into the noble goal of losing weight and regaining one’s health.

Surprisingly, this article is full of extremely useful information and with an adjustment of attitude this article could have been a great source of information on how to maintain weight loss. Since the New York Times has failed to give you this more helpful perspective, I thought it appropriate for the Self Health Atlas to give you some advice on how best to maintain your weight loss.Here is what you need to know about how your body reacts to weight loss and here is how you can use this information to help you be successful in maintaining the weight loss you have worked so hard to achieve.

Weight Loss is Never Permanent

This is a hard, cold fact that no one really wants to hear but the sooner you accept this truth the better off you will be.  It will always take some work to ensure that you do not gain back the weight that you have lost.  Maintaining weight loss requires exactly that, maintenance. However, unlike the efforts portrayed in the Fat Trap, it does not need to be an extremely time consuming and painful experience.   If you have been successful in losing weight then hopefully you were able to learn a lot about your body at the same time.  You should have learned what types of food support weight loss and how many cups of fruit are contained in a banana.  You should have discovered what types of exercise you enjoy the most.  You should have found an exercise routine that fits into your schedule.  Hopefully, you have seen that it is your lifestyle choices that will determine if you gain weight or maintain weight, and that the best way to maintain your new weight is to maintain the new lifestyle habits that helped you lose all of that weight in the first place. If you have not found exercise that you enjoy, or you still do not know how many cups are in a banana, or if you lost all that weight because you ate nothing but grapefruits for two months, then weight maintenance will be more difficult for you, but not impossible.  Learn these things.  Learn to make lifestyle changes that you can enjoy and that will benefit your long-term health.  Then it maintaining your weight will not feel like such a chore. The real key here is that weight loss in not permanent, but the lifestyle choices and the healthy habits you develop can allow you to keep the weight off for good.

When you weigh less you need less

Quite a lot of biological changes take place in your body when you lose weight.  When your body changes, your biology changes.  For one, your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is reduced.  This means that your body will burn fewer calories throughout the day since it requires less energy to move and carry out your regular bodily functions.  You will burn fewer calories jogging a mile and you will burn fewer calories pumping blood throughout your system.  This is just one of the advantages of being lighter, you are healthier and your body does not need to work as hard to get the job done. The implication for maintaining weight loss here is that you actually require fewer calories in a day. If you go back to eating like you did when you were overweight and not dieting then you will gain all of that weight back.  If you lost weight by limiting your caloric intake to an average of 1,500 calories per day, then there is a real possibility that to maintain that weight loss you need to stick to a net of 1,800 calories per day.  Some people make this out to be your body acting as your worst enemy since you have to work harder to lose weight.  Well, that is that attitude that will make you give up and get fat again.  If you have established sound healthy eating habits and if you have a good understanding of how many calories are in the foods you regularly consume then this really should not be too difficult.  Below I will discuss a neat trick I use to help me keep my calories around 1,800 per day.

[TIP – My “neat trick” is discussed in this video]

Exercise is not enough

A common mistake people make when faced with the reality of a lower BMR is to make up for over eating by committing themselves to more hours at the gym or more miles on the treadmill.  Let me tell you right now this is a trap and it will fail every time.  Exercise can never undo the damage done by a bad diet.   Yes, exercise is important when it comes to weight loss and weight maintenance, but the real key to your successful weight loss was reducing the number of calories you ate.  Exercise will never make up for the added calories you treat yourself with after achieving your goal weight.  Do not trick yourself into believing that you can exercise off an extra 600 calories a day.  Even if you could, it is not worth the time and energy it will take.  Know your BMR and use healthy habits and strategies to ensure that you stay within your average daily caloric range. Here is what you need to keep in mind.  Your caloric intake was the number one factor in your weight loss; caloric intake will be the number one factor in your weight maintenance.

Do not stop exercising

Just because caloric intake is the most important factor when it comes to weight maintenance does not mean you can do away with exercise and expect to maintain your weight.  You must find a type of exercise that you enjoy and you must do it regularly which mean you also must find a type of exercise that fits into your weekly schedule.   Your goal should be to exercise for at least 30 minutes three times per week and you should try to take long walks (more than 60 minutes) at least once per week.

How to Maintain a Low Caloric Intake without “Dieting”

Here is the neat trick I wanted to tell you about that helps me maintain my 1,800 average daily caloric intake.  I use intermittent fasting following the guidance laid out in the book Eat Stop Eat.  This means that I fast for 24 hours once per week.  Simply by completing one 24 hour fast I am able to ensure that my average daily caloric intake does not exceed 1,800 calories in any given week.  If there is a big holiday coming up or a weekend social event that I want to enjoy then I will do what I like to call bookend fasting around the event.  If there is a big outdoor barbeque on Saturday that promises to have lots of beer, sweets, and tons of food, then I will fast on Friday and then I will fast again on Sunday.  Knowing that I am going to do this means I am free to fully enjoy the barbeque. Fasting works great for me. I have trouble denying food when I am surrounded by it, but I also have no problem not eating food when I know I have committed to a 24-hour fast.  It really is the easiest method I have found and probably the single biggest factor in my ability to maintain my weight loss.  I couldn’t recommend it more strongly. What has helped you most in maintaining your weight loss? Share your success in the comments below.

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  1. Robert / Feb 13 2012

    In my opinion, there isn’t a better diet tool or “hack” out there than fasting. Not only will it help you lose weight or keep the weight off, but it will also give your digestive system a break. Great article, Jeremy.

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