Losing weight is hard but not as hard as keeping it off. Only about 20% of those who lose weight maintain it in the long term. But don’t despair! There are several proven ways you can keep the weight off, ranging from exercising to controlling stress. We will go over all of them in this article.
Why does weight tend to come back?
Losing weight has a big advantage compared to just maintaining it. You can measure and celebrate results. That keeps people motivated and focused. But as soon as you transition to maintenance, this source of positive feedback goes away. And that’s when two factors surface – unrealistic expectations and feelings of deprivation.
If you are to stand a chance at long-term success, you have to do three things.
- Find a diet that doesn’t feel too restrictive to you and works.
- Get into the right long-term oriented mindset.
- Build sustainable habits.
We talked a lot about the first one in our previous article. This time we will take a look at the mindset and also which habits you should work on and how.
Find your reason why
When you reach your ideal target weight, you should take a step back and answer one simple question. Why are you doing this? It can’t be for the numbers on the scale anymore, those can’t keep going down. So, why? You can try the ‘5-Why’ exercise to get to the bottom of what is truly motivating you. We wrote more about it in our previous article.
Get an accountability buddy
A great way to stick to your new diet and lifestyle is to have a buddy who can help keep you accountable. It sounds cliché but it works. A study examined the health behaviours of over 3,000 couples and found that when one person engaged in a healthy habit, the other was more likely to join in. And it doesn’t have to be your partner. You can find more advice in our previous article.
Introduce regularity into your eating
Your body and mind love a schedule. Eating at regular times will help you with planning and avoiding mistakes. And this has a direct effect on your results. One study found that 78% of nearly 3,000 people who maintained a 14-kg weight loss for at least 1 year reported eating breakfast every day.
And make sure that your routine applies to the weekend too. Research shows that those who follow a consistent eating pattern throughout the week including the weekend are more likely to sustain weight loss in the long term.
Establish a strong sleep routine
Another really important aspect of weight management is sleep. Studies show that sleep deprivation appears to be a major risk factor for weight gain in adults and may interfere with weight maintenance.
If you sleep less than you should, your levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, increase and levels of leptin, the satiety hormone, drop. This means you have a bigger appetite and food doesn’t make you that full when you don’t sleep well. And it’s also worth mentioning that when you sleep poorly, you’re more tired and less motivated to exercise and cook healthy food.
To make things better, try to do some of the following.
- Expose yourself to bright morning light. Go for a short walk in the morning.
- Go to bed earlier so you spend at least 8 hours in bed. Set a bedtime alarm if you need.
- Limit blue light exposure 2 hours before sleep. No bright screens and lights.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
- Create a bedtime ritual to get yourself calm and ready for sleep.
For more tips on how to improve your sleep, check out our sleep series.
Keep an eye on your stress levels
Stress is something we all experienced during the lockdowns. It’s great for weight gain as we described in the last article, so we have to make sure we manage chronic stress now that the lockdowns ended. Chronic stress can contribute to weight regain because it causes elevation of the hormone cortisol, which is linked to increased appetite and food intake. Stress is also a common trigger for impulsive eating.
There are many ways to deal with stress and we all have to find what works for us. Here are a few tips.
- Plan more fun stuff that brings you joy. Try new activities.
- Practice saying “no” to smaller things so you can use it when it matters.
- Don’t spend too much time watching the news.
- Spend more time outdoors in nature.
- Go for a massage, sauna or a cold plunge.
- Listen to music for pleasure.
Check out our stress management series for more tips.
Cycling enthusiasts don’t need much convincing to exercise regularly because it’s fun. But it can be motivating to know how it helps with weight management.
Studies show that just 30 minutes of physical activity per day can counteract a day of sitting, our big COVID-19 lockdown enemy. Also, people who do at least 200 minutes of moderate physical activity a week after losing weight are more likely to maintain their weight.
So, the instructions are clear. Keep cycling! We will talk more about how to get back into training in our next blog post of the series.
Learn to deal with setbacks
Setbacks are really dangerous, even a small one can feel so bad that it causes people to give up and continue with their bad habits. What’s worse, it’s almost guaranteed you will experience one. You have to prepare for it. If you go in with the mindset that setbacks are inevitable and you will get back on track immediately as one hits you, then you have a much higher chance of long-term success. Read more about this topic in our previous article.
Now you’re equipped with all you need to lose weight and maintain it. The next step is to fully get back into cycling. Our next article talks about what to avoid when getting back in shape and how to speed the process up.