If you think losing those extra pounds is hard, some recent findings suggest that might not be the tough part after all. It seems that losing weight and weight loss maintenance require very different skill sets. The work finds that once you succeed in losing weight, there's a need to stop and switch gears to sustain the weight loss over the long term.
The researchers questioned over 1,100 adult subjects on 36 unique practices to see which of the behaviors was tied to weight loss and maintenance. To be considered weight loss, the amount must be 10% of body mass (or more) that's kept off for the past year. Maintenance was determined as losing that same 10% but keeping the weight off for 12 months or longer.
What they saw was that different skills are needed for losing weight and to keep the pounds from creeping back.
Taking part in a recognized weight loss program, restricting sugar intake, not skipping meals and choosing healthy snacks are all things known to help with weight loss. Yet these practices don't seem to have much of an influence on keeping the weight off once you lose it.
Weight loss, despite what we might think actually is easier that weight maintenance. The research team are keeping an eye on those who are able to keep the weight at bay. They see the loss/maintenance process as having three steps.
1. Losing the weight itself,
2. Making the transition to eating healthy and then
3. Keeping the weight off over the long term.
Once you lose the weight you have to make the change in lifelong habits that makes healthy eating and living a more permanent part of your life.
Weight maintenance calls for different skills. Just think about how many big names have lost weight on a "program" only to go on to regain it. Maintenance isn't easy.
Subjects identified practices like eating plenty of low fat protein sources, following a regular exercise program and treating yourself for all your good choices, while bearing in mind why you wish to keep the pounds off are all associated with keeping the weight from coming back, but not for the success of the initial loss itself.
Clearly being more physically active is an essential part of keeping weight off. So you'll need to ramp up the activity in a big way. And keep reaching for the support system that helped you lose weight in the first place, this will reinforce the good habits you've used to get you this far. It all boils down to changing the way in which you eat, and live. You need to redefine your relationship with food, and exercise, forever.
So, if you want to keep the weight off for good it's important to recognize the different skills you'll need for weight loss maintenance. No one will point them out to you, but once you reach your weight loss goal, make a conscious effort to recognize where you are and put the effort into making the changes that got you there stick, for good.