I had my annual exam recently, and when the doctor’s assistant asked my weight, I dismissively replied, “I’m not sure, probably like 160 something.” She directed me to the scale, and matter-of-factly informed me I weigh 173 pounds (she then proceeded to measure my height, and claimed I’m 5-foot-6-and-a-half). Clearly she knows nothing, because I still wear size 6/8 and I’m comfortable with my body. Perhaps too comfortable? Whether we admit it or not, we all have an ideal weight, or some other indicator we’ve achieved weight loss success. There’s this idea once we reach a certain point, all the hard work we put in to get there can slowly ease into what is called ” weight loss maintenance.” It’s all a big lie.
While I’ve been paying more attention to the quality of food I’m consuming, I haven’t been nearly as diligent with weight training and the intensity/variety of workouts leading to my 30 pound weight loss in the first place. I’m realizing more and more, weight loss maintenance is a myth. The reality is, sustainable health and weight loss doesn’t end when you reach your goal weight, any more than Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after.
Here are a few tips for avoiding the maintenance myth:
1. Maintain Habits, Not Weight Loss
If anything requires maintenance, it’s your new healthy habits. The old “21 days to build a habit,” business is out the window. New habits require attention if you want them to stick, and depending on the person and the habit, can take nearly a year of practice to become automatic. Likewise, living a healthy lifestyle requires attention as it is the culmination of many habits. Depending on how many habits you have to break or build to get to where you want to be, it’s going to take a lot of work. Don’t throw all your hard work away once you reach “Destination Size X,” because you’ll find yourself right back where you started in no time.
2. Switch Up Your Workout Routine
Your body, and your brain, will adjust to the same old workouts, and constantly crave new challenges. Need inspiration? Search Groupon for a new fitness class, or look to your friends for support. My sorority sister convinced a bunch of us to embark on a 4 week Nike Training Club program, and I’m being pushed with new routines on a daily basis.
3. Have a Support Group
We’re social beings, and tend to mimic the habits of those closest to us. If you want don’t want your hard work to dwindle, surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Whether it’s an online community like Whole9 or a local running group, healthy living doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. Your chances of maintaining habits increase drastically when you have a support group. I don’t have fancy statistics to back that claim up, but it just makes sense.
4. Plan Both Short AND Long-Term
When you’re setting goals, you have to look at the big picture AND the details. I use backwards planning for pretty much everything I do from lesson planning to my life plan. Plan with the end in mind. What does that look like? Feel like? What are you able to do? Make it action oriented and you’ll be able to come up with clear steps to reaching your goal. Saying “I will be a runner” isn’t nearly as impactful as, “By this time next year I will be able to run 3 miles without stopping.” The latter allows you to create a clear map and set interim goals. Once you reach your long-term goal, you should already have an idea what you want to conquer next.
5. Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop
Even if you just want to “maintain” your level of fitness or ideal weight, you have to keep it moving. Although, I encourage you to think past maintenance and push yourself beyond your own limits. Evolve. Grow. Be whole!