You lose some weight – you celebrate. The weight creeps back on – you feel like a failure. You lose some weight again – you feel good. On-off-on-off – you’re sick of the yo-yoing.
How can you keep weight off for good? Ask those in the know – the people who have succeeded at long-term weight control. Obviously, healthy eating and regular exercise are key, but what more is there?
We’ve identified the vital elements needed for long-term weight control from people who’ve lost weight and kept it off long-term.
Be Physically Active Every Day
For long-term weight loss, 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week works. If you think, “Wow, that’s so much! I can’t do that!” (or perhaps a swear word or two!) – don’t fret. People have lost weight doing just 30 minutes a day too. Moderate exercise includes vacuuming, washing windows, fast walking, some types of gardening, moderate-level swimming and dancing. There are many added bonuses to being physically active, such as feeling happier, better quality sleep and more energy.
Add more physical activity into your day-to-day life:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift.
- Get up and talk to people face-to-face in the office instead of sending them emails.
- Get off the bus one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- Walk or cycle short distances instead of driving
- Wash your car at home rather than going to a car wash.
- Join in with your kids’ exercise in the park.
Adopt Consistent Healthy Eating Patterns
When it comes to healthy eating, remember the key points below:
- Adopt sustainable and enjoyable healthy eating patterns, don’t focus on “going on a diet.” “Going on a diet” implies that you’ll eat healthily temporarily, and then go back to your usual eating habits. If your eating patterns are sustainable and you enjoy the foods you’re eating, you’re more likely to continue your eating habits long-term.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, lean proteins, healthy fats and wholegrain breads, cereals, rice and pasta.
- Include moderate amounts of meat, meat alternatives, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds.
- Eat only small amounts of foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and/or salt, such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, cordial, pastries, butter, margarine, oils, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, fatty pizzas, hamburgers, fried chips and crisps.
- Limit alcohol. Don’t save up all your drinks for the week to binge drink on the weekend either!
- Control your portion sizes. Choose smaller sizes where possible.
- Control comfort eating, and over-eating when dining out.
- Choose healthy snacks, such as fruit and vegetables, instead of biscuits and fried crisps.
Healthy eating needn’t be “rabbit food”! Be adventurous, try exotic and exciting healthy dishes and experiment with herbs and spices to ramp up the flavour! Food can be delicious and nutritious!
Count Your Calories and Keep a Food and Exercise Diary
People who track their food intake and exercise level are more likely to succeed at long-term weight control than those who don’t. Diaries “open your eyes” to what might be helping, and hindering, your weight control efforts.
Try using Allan Borushek’s Calorie Fat and Carbohydrate Counter book to monitor your calories. Track your calorie intake and exercise levels with the pocket Food and Exercise Diary, or use the CalorieKing Australia diary online . Many people underestimate how many calories they’re actually eating, and are surprised when they find they consume far more than they originally thought.
Keep a food and mood diary too, to track how you feel when you eat different foods, and help control emotional and comfort eating.
Weigh Yourself Regularly
Weigh yourself at least once a week in the morning wearing no clothing or light clothing. Weighing yourself too much can trigger anxiety and obsession, however being a little obsessive is a good thing for some people – it can also be motivating. Avoiding weighing yourself regularly can mean any weight gain isn’t being detected early enough.
Some people enjoy the ritual of weighing themselves every day. It’s a gentle reminder to be sensible throughout the day’s eating and to be physically active.
Get Regular Support
You’re more likely to achieve long-term weight control if you have regular support. A friend, family member, partner or personal trainer are great options. You can also get support from our online forums and groups. Many of our members have said they’ve found help from others who are going through a similar journey and also want to control their weight.
Eat Regular Meals, Including Breakfast
Skipping meals means you’re more likely to overeat and choose unhealthy foods when you do eat. As a result, you ‘e more likely to consume too many calories and gain weight.
Plan regular, balanced meals throughout the day to help you feel fuller for longer, prevent hunger pangs and avoid low blood sugar levels. Low glycemic load meals are best.
Breakfast helps give you energy you for the day ahead. People who eat breakfast every day are more able to control their weight than those who often skip breakfast.
Use Positive Self-Talk
Winners use positive self-talk. They know the value of positive thinking in helping them achieve the results they want. Think thoughts that will support and encourage you, and challenge those that will sabotage you.
If you say positive things over and over again but you don’t really believe them, they’re just words and not beliefs. To really be effective, your positive thoughts need to become subconscious beliefs. Here are some examples of thoughts to plant in your subconscious mind:
- When you look at others who’ve achieved long-term weight loss, think: “If they can do it, I can do it.”
- “No matter how hard it gets I won’t give up. I can adjust my weight control plans, but I will not give up on my weight control goals.”
- After you get stuck into the biscuit tin: “This is a just minor setback. I’m going to get back on track now” rather than, “I’m a failure. I’m never going to achieve my goals. I give up.”
- “I can find – both within and outside myself – the resources I need to achieve my goal.”
Believe You Can Win at Weight Control
To achieve your goal, you need to truly believe that you can do it. Health professionals call this self-efficacy. It’s widely acknowledged in the health industry, and it works. Believe you will fail at weight control (or anything else in life) and you most likely will. Believe you can win at weight control, and you are already halfway there.
Use the Common Key Ingredients for Success
Like baking a loaf of bread requires some key ingredients, certain ingredients are needed to succeed at anything in life. Here are some key ingredients for success:
- Time and effort. You didn’t gain all the weight overnight, so you won’t lose it overnight either. Accept that it will take time and effort to lose the extra kilos. Be patient and don’t give up.
- Willpower. This will give you a boost at first, but you need more than willpower alone to sustain your energy. Having strong willpower is important for many reasons, such as helping you resist eating lots of unhealthy foods at parties. However having a plan for how to cope in these situations – and using this plan – is even better.
- Persistence. There will be tough times. Maintain the killer attitude: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”
- Acceptance. Accept that there will be obstacles, tough times, setbacks and so on. You can get angry, or you can accept these as part of life. Plan in advance for how you will cope with problems when they arise.
Accept yourself as you are right now, whatever shape or size you are. Is this hard for you? If so, there are lots of self-help books and websites that can help you achieve self acceptance. Self acceptance is vital for your health, happiness and wellbeing.
There’s no magic pill for long-term weight control. Those who have lost weight and kept it off understand that it takes time, effort, healthy eating, regular exercise and more. Use as many of the above weight control ideas as you can, and check out our forums and groups for ideas and support along the way.