October 4, 2010

The Secret to Weight Maintenance: Top Ten Tips

If you know please tell me! Honestly and seriously, if there is one thing I've learned in maintaining my weight loss for over 5 years is that there is still much to learn. This is an ongoing journey of trial and error, of committing every day to do the best that I can to maintain. I am far from perfect from it, but there are a few things I've learned along the way:
  1. This is a practice, there is no cure or "magic bullet" mistakes will be made, but most important is to forgive myself and get back on that healthy lifestyle train ride as soon as I can.
  2. And since there is no "magic bullet" there is no secret formula or combination of foods that yield easy weight loss or keep that weight off. It's hard work, I won't lie. It's not as hard as dieting, but it takes just about as much vigilance, perseverance and dedication. (It's just a heck of a lot more fun in a slimmer body). For me it boils down to simply calories in/calories out. There may be no easy answers, but there are things that can make it easier among them:
  3. Learn mindful eating. I will talk more about this in a future post, but what I mean is I learned to tune into the difference between physical eating and eating for other reasons, such as boredom, stress, fatigue, frustration, or any other myriad ways we can eat other than to meet our bodies need for fuel.  I also try to be mindful of my body's cues of hunger and fullness and eating just the right amount to feel satisfied, but not more than I need. 
  4. Manage eating triggers and crossed wires. I learned what my eating triggers are and how to manage them. I also learned to identify my crossed wires, those conditions of stress, fatigue, etc. that produce cravings to eat when I'm not hungry instead of taking care of my needs in more fitting ways. For this I use EBT training. 
  5. Monitor eating. When I first started loosing and maintaining I found it very useful to use a computer program to keep track of my calories (I used Fitday). Now I use that program mostly to figure out calories in recipes or new foods. What works best for me is eating similar types of foods and amounts daily. And that leads me to another tip--
  6. No one knows me better than myself. I tailor my eating and exercise plans in ways that suit me and my preferences. I know I would never be happy eating a diet that is high protein/low carb or that tells me what to eat, so I didn't follow that kind of diet. Instead, I eat as few processed foods as I can and lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with a bit of lean meat and healthy fats.
  7. Make every bite count. I know on average how many calories I need to maintain my weight and tailor my diet accordingly, packing as much nutrition as I can my daily calorie budget. Some people think that because I run I can eat whatever I what--oh how I wish!
  8. Exercise regularly for not only the calories it burns, but feeling the joy of a body that is vibrant, toned and full of energy. Feeling that motivates me to keep it feeling that way! I explore what works best for me. 
  9. I changed my lifestyle to support my new weight. That included making my workout time a priority. People who know me know that I exercise in the morning, go to dance club on Friday nights and do a long run on Saturdays, and know better than to expect me to do otherwise! I also make sure I try to get enough sleep and practice stress reduction techniques such as yoga and meditation.
  10. Create a supportive environment. I made friends with people who support my goals and inspire me. I also cleaned my family's diet preparing for them the same delicious foods I prepare for myself.
I'm sure I could think of 100 tips if I gave myself the time, but these are the core I strive for every day. I have been asked to to post more on this topic, weight loss, nutrition and exercising in general and my goal is to do so in a frequent and informative manner. Please send me your comments and suggestions!

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