You’ve worked tirelessly in the gym, expended real mental energy counting calories and have made big lifestyle changes to improve your fitness. You’ve lost weight, and you look… mwah.
Fast forward a couple months and can feel the kilos creeping back on, slowly but surely. You’ve become a bit more lax with the diet and exercise regime, and it’s starting to take its toll.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. It sounds counterintuitive, but going on a diet is actually the biggest predictor of future weight gain.
Here are 7 things you should consider keeping in mind if you wanna keep those cheeky kilos at bay.
(This goes without saying there’s naught a thing wrong with having a bit more cushion for the pushin’ – but if you’ve worked your toight ass off to get in shape, you’re only human for wanting to keep it like that.)
1. Move, in some way, every day
At the start of your weight loss journey, you might have been guns blazin’ going for it at a F45 class every single day.
Fact of the matter is, for the majority of us, doing hardcore taxing exercise every single day is not achievable. Plus, your body needs time to recover – pummeling it 7 days a week is borderline abuse.
Instead, keep your weight and health in check by aiming to move in some way every single day. Incidental exercise is low key legendary. Walking to work, moving around when you chat to a mate on the phone or taking little breaks during your work day to do a little walk around the block all adds up.
There’s a science behind that, too. Do you have a mate who eats like Bruce Bogtrotter but is still somehow slim as ferk? It’s cause they’re moving and fidgeting all day.
2. Change up your workouts
The more studious weight-losers among us sometimes have detailed exercise plans. Mondays are legs day, Tuesdays are for cardio, Wednesday looks like a morning run, and so on and so forth.
While this is a great way of getting a good mix of strength and cardio training, your body is clever and will adapt to this routine. It’s called plateauing.
How can you bounce up and out of a plateau? By shocking your body out of it via a new workout, that’s how!
Instead of doing the same thing at the gym week in, week out, throw in a pilates class, a yoga class, heck, maybe ever try an aerial silks class.
Your calories burned should increase, resulting in an easier time keeping any weight increases at bay.
3. Pay attention to what you’re shovelling into your gob
Food is a consistent joy in life. When shit’s going pear shaped, food comforts, soothes and excites.
Food is also that one thing that makes or breaks keeping your weight down. Spanner: mindlessly throwing Krispy Kremes down your chunthole at speed is an activity no amount of exercise can repair.
With this in mind, consider mindful eating.
Mindful eating is just a fancy way of saying: when you’re eating, focus on eating. Try to avoid multitasking when you eat. Of course, devoting 30 minutes to worshipping your morning’s muesli isn’t always feasible (I am guilty of devouring my chia pud while writing this very sentence).
If you find yourself on a lunch break, a sanga in hand and Instagram open in the other, put down the phone. Pay attention to every bite of that vegemite sanga. Notice how the cheese feels against your tongue. Take a big whiff of the salty goodness.
This simple, meditative technique not only encourages enjoyment of every morsel, but it’ll help you recognise when you’re actually full so you don’t overeat.
It takes practice but it’s worth the energy. This book’s real good if you wanna read more about the technique.
4. Do the dreaded daily weigh-in
This is a contentious point that is often advised against by dietitians, but research suggests weighing yourself on the daily and tracking the results is a helpful strategy in maintaining your weight.
A two-year Cornell Uni study, published in the Journal of Obesity, found that frequent self-weighing and tracking results on a chart were effective for both losing weight and keeping it off, especially for men.
The paper’s senior author, professor David Levitsky, says the method “forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight.”
5. Eat breakfast
There are two types of people in this world.
People who consider breakfast to be the greatest meal of the day and people who can’t think of anything worse than consuming food before 11:30pm.
If you’re the first kinda person, you’re in luck; enjoying the day’s first meal is a good idea if you want sustained energy and curbed cravings.
“People skip breakfast thinking they’re cutting calories, but by mid-morning and lunch, that person is starved,” says Milton Stokes, RD, MPH, chief dietitian for St. Barnabas Hospital in New York City.
“Breakfast skippers replace calories during the day with mindless nibbling, bingeing at lunch and dinner. They set themselves up for failure.”
We ain’t talking a bacon and egg McMuff every morning, but rather a meal that incorporates good fats (like avocado) fibre and some protein to keep you firing all day long.
6. Don’t neglect the boudoir
I’m including this point about sleep, even though it puts this list at risk of sounding like every other ‘health improving’ advice post ever written.
Sleep is integral to everything in life – cognitive function, emotional stability and you guessed it, weight loss.
If you’re exercising regularly, sleep is the time for your body to recuperate and your muscles to build. Getting in anything less than 7 hours a night is not ideal.
Also, think about this. When you’re tired, you’ll probably order a large coffee. You mightn’t have enough energy to fit in a workout after work. You might feel a little more emotionally unbalanced, leading to sad sack eating habits.
It’s all bad news. So get your sleep on. Read a bit more about good sleep habits here.
7. Partner up, partner
Keeping yourself honest can be hard at the best of times.
It’s very easy to skip that maintenance workout or choose the parmie over the salad when you’re only answering to one big man (yourself).
Find someone; a friend, your sexual partner, a colleague – and support each other. Having a solid accountability system and someone to cry with about the lack of cheeseburgers in your life is integral in keeping the pounds at bay.
More than anything, though; be kind to yourself. The fact that you’re even trying to make healthy changes and keep ’em is cause for celebration.