Healthy Weight Maintenance for Life!

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Striving to lose excess weight should be a goal for everyone, as this can not only help you to look and feel better, but it can also help to lessen your chances that you will have to deal with such deadly diseases as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes in the future.

However, once you have lost that excess weight, your next goal will be to maintain your new weight and keep that lost weight from coming back.  Oftentimes, this can be just as challenging, maybe even more so, than losing excess weight.  But, it can be done if you’re motivated enough and are willing to do what is needed to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Short-Term Diets Don’t Work But Lifestyle Changes Do

One of the most significant keys to losing weight AND keeping it off during your life is to see weight loss as not a “short-term fix,” but rather as a lifestyle change.

Many people trying to lose weight have the following mindsets:

  • “I’ll go on a diet for a week to get into those skinny jeans.”
  • “I’ll only have to diet for a month or two to lose the 10-20 pounds I want, then I’ll be free.”
  • “Once I get off of this diet, I’ll be able to enjoy food again and do less exercise.”

What people need to stop and realize is that, if the activities you do, including what you eat and how much or how little physical activity you get, is what led to you gaining excess weight in the first place, going back to those same eating and sedentary activities later are just going to lead to the same results, namely, gaining weight again.

Successfully keeping weight off for the duration of your life is going to involve moderation and not going overboard with eating unhealthy foods or with lying around and watching television or surfing the Internet.  Certainly, you don’t have to always be exercising or depriving yourself of a sweet treat all of the time, but you can’t go back and make the habits that led to your weight gain the primary way you live your life, not if you want to maintain a healthy weight throughout your life.  You have to install new eating and exercise habits to lose excess weight and maintain that new weight.

The Equation You Need to Keep in Mind to Lose Weight

There is a relatively simple formula you need to keep in mind when you are attempting to lose weight and keep it off:

By eating fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight.

A calorie is the amount of heat that is needed to raise the temperature of 1 liter of water by 1 degree.1  Essentially, calories are a way to measure energy.

Think of calories as the fuel for your body as fuel is for your car.  Without fuel, your car cannot go where you want it to go.  Without calories, your body cannot do what it needs to do.

The Importance of Physical Activity When It Comes to Weight Management

This is why it is so important for you to get enough physical activity in your life so that you burn the calories you consume.  If you don’t get enough physical activity to burn off the calories you intake in your food and drink, you will gain weight. You don’t have to be a fanatic either. Many people who have lost excess weight and maintained their ideal weight exercise around 5 hours per week on average.

A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.  Therefore, you need to have a 3,500 calorie deficit (intake minus amount burned) to lose a pound of fat.2  The normal recommended amount of calories for most people per day is between 2,000 to 2,500 calories.  As a result, it is unlikely you can lose a pound a day safely, as you would essentially be eating nothing, and still not cut enough calories from your diet.

Instead, as most medical experts suggest, you should attempt to lose 1-2 pounds per week. An easy way to lose a pound per week is to cut your calorie intake by 500 calories a day.  By doing this over a period of 7 days, 1 week, you will cut your calorie intake by 3,500 calories, 1 pound of fat.

What to Do If You Fall Off the Healthy Weight Regimen

We are all human and we all deal with adversity and stress in our lives.  We all deal with temptation that is hard to resist.  Sometimes, we will not stick to the healthy weight regimen we’ve set for ourselves, whether we can’t resist a big piece of chocolate cake or we skip exercising for a few days to meet up with some friends for a few nights on the town.

The first thing to do if you happen to do this is, don’t beat yourself up over it.  You’re not expected to be perfect all of the time.  In fact, one thing that can cause problems is setting goals to high. Unrealistic goals or overestimating future goal progress can actually lead to inconsistent actions or decisions in terms of weight loss.3 In other words, you can become a self-fulfilling prophecy! Deviations happen, but it’s important to keep in mind that all of your hard work is not gone just because you splurged on eating more unhealthy food or cut back on exercise for a short period of time.

You just need to resume the healthy weight lifestyle you’ve adopted to lose any weight you may have gained and to keep the healthy weight you’ve had.  Try eating some healthier meals if you splurged on some unhealthy foods. For instance, add more baked fish and chicken, as well as more vegetables, to your following week’s meals.

If you ate an extra 500 calories beyond your usual daily calorie intake one day during the past week, try eating 500 fewer calories than your usual daily calorie intake one day during the upcoming week. Similarly, If you missed out on 60 minutes of exercise twice during the past week, a total of 120 minutes, try adding 10 to 20 extra minutes to your regular routine during the next few weeks.  You’ll quickly regain that lost exercise time in no time flat!

By compensating for falling off of the healthy weight lifestyle, you’ll quickly reverse any “damage” you may have done and have more momentum to live that healthy lifestyle again.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight is Not a Short-Term Fix But a Long-Term Commitment

Many people make the mistake that you only have to commit for a short time in order to maintain a healthy weight.  Maintaining a healthy weight throughout your life takes a long-term commitment to eating healthier and to exercising on a regular basis.  It can be challenging at first, but once you see the results of your hard work, you’ll be even more committed to sticking with your new lifestyle routine and reaping the rewards you get from it.


1 A Healthier You – Chapter 5, A Calorie Is a Calorie, or Is It? (2011). From Department of Health & Human Services – USA: www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/healthieryou/html/chapter5.html

2 Tips for losing weight. (2011)

3 Fishbach, Ayelet and Ravi Dhar. (2006) Goals as Excuses or Guides: The Liberating Effect of Perceived Goal Progress on Choice. Journal of Consumer Research, pp. 370-377.


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