Maintaining healthy diet and exercise habits is harder than it seems. While losing the initial pounds is undoubtedly difficult, learning how to maintain those great results presents its own challenges. After the initial weight loss period, upkeeping healthy habits is called maintenance mode. Many body transformation stories go something like this:
ME: “I lost 20 pounds over 12 weeks!”
ME: “I did so well, I think I treat myself.”
ME: “All that ice cream yesterday was so good and there’s a little bit left in the fridge.”
ME: At the grocery store, “I want more ice cream. Just a few bites tonight won’t hurt. I’ve already had a pint anyway!”
ME: “I’ve eaten ice cream every day for the last 2 weeks…”
ME: “I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost.”
ALSO ME: “I feel like crap. How did I ever lose that 20 pounds?”
This is what is called the lapse and relapse cycle. Many maintainers experience lapse, but it takes willpower and diligence to not experience relapse. Lapse is a momentary break from your healthy habit routine that is not the norm. Examples of this could be skipping a workout while on vacation, eating a large piece of cake on your birthday. Lapses are ok. Everyone has momentary weakness and a one or two unhealthy choices won’t break you #cheatday. What you want to avoid however is relapse. Relapse happens when many lapses happen continually and build on one another. Relapse is a complete departure from the new norm (healthy diet and exercise habits) and a resurrection of past unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain. Both lapses and relapses are very common and often upsetting for individuals who have worked so hard to get to a healthy weight.
life events can pose challenges for maintaining healthy habits whether they are welcome or unexpected. The stress of a career, relationship or financial hardship can wreak havoc on the healthy modes of thinking that were put in place during the weight loss phase and that should carry through in maintenance mode. Knowing that stressors are constantly happening and preparing for them can help you avoid a relapse and maintain your fabulous results. Some other potential relapse triggers are:
The simple answer is the avoid the above triggers. Obviously, this is easier said than done, and lapses often remind us of why we started in the first place, giving us even more fuel to keep going! Here are a few mistakes that maintainers make causing relapse:
Choosing a Diet You Can’t Sustain
There are lots of different opinions out there on what kind of diet works for weight loss. The key to choosing the right diet is finding one (or modifying one) that you can maintain day in and day out while enjoying your life and your results. Diets that are hard to maintain are those that are too restrictive or too extreme. These can trigger binge eating because of their inherent difficulty.
Unrealistic Weight Loss Deadlines
Planning to lose 30 pounds in 4 weeks? Probably not going to happen… and if it does, it will be extremely difficult to maintain the healthy (if they even are) habits you’ve created. The goal should always be to lose enough weight so that you can look and feel confident while maintaining your results. To calculate a time frame that you can maintain, divide the amount of weight you want to lose by an ideal weekly weight loss of 2 pounds per week.
30 pounds / 2 pounds/week = 15 weeks
While you could lose more than 2 pounds per week if you factor in water weight loss or extreme measures to aid in weight loss like pills or supplements that were not prescribed, it’s not likely. Plus, there is a direct correlation speed of weight loss and relapse.
Suddenly Stopping a Diet or Exercise Program
This situation is easy to succumb to. Whether you’ve started a new diet, CrossFit program, or cleanse, many have fallen off the wagon after their “challenge” is over. The reason you feel so great after the challenge is because of all the hard work you’ve put in during it. Abruptly stopping your diet or exercise program will not only shock your system, it could even make losing the weight again harder. Plan for what happens after your challenge and what strategies you’ll incorporate into your daily life to maintain your results.
Not Adjusting Your Caloric Needs from Pre-weight Loss
When you’ve lost weight your caloric needs are less than they were before. You will need to calculate how many calories you need to maintain your goal weight now that you’ve achieved it. For example, if a person loses 50 pounds they need about 400 calories less than they did when they were heavier. Our bodies get used to being fed a certain number of calories. Continually adjusting that caloric intake for your new energy requirements is something that needs to be ongoing. There are two ways of doing this: 1) strictly limiting the number of calories you consume based on your decreasing weight or 2) increase the amount of calories you burn in a day during activity/exercise to meet your caloric needs. By combining both of these strategies, you can maintain long-term results.
Luckily, healthy diet and exercise habits are not a win/lose, pass/fail type of situation! We hope that the Central Wellness Health Challenge gives you all the tools you’ll need to look and feel amazing for years to come. The key to confidence is consistency.