Updated: Jan 1
No one starts a weight loss journey by saying, “I’m going to lose the weight and then gain it back again!” This is what usually happens to many of us. The 1970’s were about eating low-calorie; the 1980’s were about eating low fat foods. The 1990’s were about low card diets. There are so many plans that a person can choose from today. We are successful at losing it, but what about keeping it off? The great thing today is more people are talking about weight maintenance. So why are we still failing at keeping the weight off? Keep reading to find out…
1. Thinking when you lose the weight, the work is done. The hard work begins when you hit your goal weight. After you have lost the weight, then you need to figure out what food intake will help you maintain the loss. How much exercise do you need to keep your body at the weight you have achieved. I always say the goal is weight maintenance. Whatever you do to lose the weight is what you will have to do to maintain it. Make sure it is a plan you can do for the rest of your life.
2. Thinking there is a magic food plan. If you want to lose weight, you do need to control your food intake. Many of us are looking for someone to tell us what to eat so the excess weight will go away. What if you don’t like the food that is included in the plan? What if the portion sizes are not enough to satisfy you? You may lose weight, but will you be ab le to continue eating this way for the rest of your life? The magic food plan that will help you lose the weight and keep it off is one that includes foods you enjoy in portion sizes that aren’t out of control.
3. Not dealing with the reasons you use food to self medicate. Let’s face it, we like to eat foods that taste really good. Foods that have a lot of fat and a lot of sugar. The problem is, these foods don’t have much nutritional value and we eat too much of them. Food can be used as a drug to make you forget your problems while you eat. When you eat your feelings, you aren’t dealing with the reasons you use food as a drug. It will be hard to deal with the things that are bothering you, but your waistline will thank you taking care of your problems without using food.
4. Making weight loss your only goal. When you lose the weight, then what? When you get to the magic number on the scale, what’s next? I went through this several years ago when I lost 100 pounds. Seconds after getting off the scale, I thought, now what? I had spent so much energy focusing on losing the weight, I really hadn’t done much else. While you are working on losing weight, don’t forget to enhance other parts of your life. Take a painting class, try a new sport, or learn to cook different foods. When you have other goals besides weight loss, it won’t make the process seem so boring and long. Don’t forget to add non-scale victories to your list.
5. Not listening to your body. Your body likes to talk to you. It tells you when you are tired, it tells you when you need to take a vacation. The problem many of us have is we don’t listen to our bodies. We push our bodies until we must stop because of burnout or sickness. Now that I have lupus, I have to listen to my body very carefully. I should have been doing this since I was a young adult, but my idea was to push until I couldn’t go anymore. Listen to your body when it tells you it needs sleep or just time to relax. You may find this will help keep the scale moving in the downward motion.
6. Changing the way you eat abruptly. Have you ever decided you’re going to start a new diet tomorrow? The day you start, you try to eat all the right foods and tell yourself you won’t eat anything that’s not on your eating plan for the day. What usually happens on Day 1? You wake up late and didn’t have your healthy food to eat for the day prepared. You go to work, eat the doughnuts for breakfast, the pizza for lunch and then go to the drive-thru for dinner. Instead of trying to change your eating habits in one day, why not gradually make the changes. Choose one goal for the week that you would like to accomplish. A goal could be adding a vegetable to your lunch for the week. Another goal could be drinking 4 cups a water a day for the next week. Changes you make in your eating habits will last longer if you add them a little at a time.
7. Beginning an aggressive exercise program on Day 1. This goes along with #6 above. If you haven’t exercised for a few months or years, hitting the gym for three hours on Day 1 will probably not end well. What will also happen is you will get burned out very quickly. When January 1st rolls around every year, the gym is packed with people. Usually by March, the January 1st people are gone. Why are they gone? Life gets in the way. If you have three hours to spend in the gym working out, that’s great. For some people, they will not be able to do this. If you work long hours, have children or parents to take care of, you may not have hours in the day to spend exercising. (you also may not want to exercise for hours a day). I always recommend, starting at 20 to 30 minutes three days a week. I have found most of us can find at least three days in our week to contribute to exercise. Will you lose the weight fast doing this? No, you probably won’t, but you will learn to be consistent with exercise and eventually see results. Again, the goal is to be able to do something that you can continue the rest of your life.
8. Trying to hurry up and lose the weight. We love to hear stories of people who lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. What is the first question you ask them, what did you eat? What if I told you, you could lose 10 pounds in four months and the way you lose will help you keep it off for years? Some people would say no thank you. Most of us want to be told how to lose 10 pounds in three weeks or less. It could be done but remember the way you lose it is what you must continue for life to keep it off. It’s your choice.
9. Being addicted to losing the weight. We all like compliments. When are losing weight and people notice, they tell you how good you look. Eventually, the compliments slow down or go away. Why does this happen? The new you becomes what people are used to seeing. That should be a good thing but for some people this isn’t. They miss being told how great they look and may stop doing the things that helped them lose the weight. Before you realize it, you have gained the weight and start the process again of losing it. You aren’t addicted to losing weight; you are addicted to the feeling of being recognized for accomplishing something. This goes along with #4, don’t make weight loss your only goal.
10. Don’t have a plan that changes with your life. Life changes. The way my life was a year changed a lot. The way my life was ten years ago has changed. Can your food and exercise plan change with your life? What happens if you go from being single to married or from married to divorced? What happens if you have children? What happens if you start a new job with longer hours? You may not be able to have as much time to cook or a lot of time to exercise. Does that mean you give up? No, this means you must take time to look at where your life is right now and make changes. This doesn’t mean the changes will be forever. You’ll have to take time every few months to see if there anything that needs to be done to help you reach your weight loss and life goals.
One way to be successful is to learn from times you failed at something. Failing doesn't mean you can't accomplish the goal you have. It's a time to evaluate what didn't work and make the changes necessary to be successful.
About Gwen Alexander
I am a Speaker, Author and host of the podcast, Losing Weight to Gain Control . I help individuals create a plan to lose weight and create a life they don't use food to escape from.