The key to losing weight and keeping it off is to understand what really motivates you. Once you’ve felt the initial excitement of losing the first few pounds, you must find a way to turn that enthusiasm into the willpower to stick with your eating plan. You will encounter both ups and downs as you learn to maintain your weight. To help you through the downs, you need coping strategies. Think about what you really want to achieve. That desire will help you turn your eating and exercise strategies into a healthy lifestyle that leads to lifelong weight control.
- Ask Questions. What gives you the strength to resist temptation? Can you form new habits that you can live with forever? What are the rewards of weight loss for you? How much do you want those rewards?
- Get Real. Losing 1 to 2 pounds a week is a realistic goal. Don’t burden yourself with unrealistic expectations. Talk with your healthcare professional to determine a healthy goal weight.
- Stay Balanced. To maintain your weight, you must balance your intake of calories with the energy you burn. Just the difference of one 12-ounce soda (150 calories) versus at least 30 minutes of brisk walking on most days can add or subtract about 10 pounds to your weight each year!
- Step Up to the Challenge. Strap on a pedometer and find out how many steps you take each day. Gradually add just 250 steps per day averaged out over the week. That will give you a good start on a healthy routine of physical activity. Most sedentary adults take only 2,500 to 3,500 steps a day. Aim to add between 4,000 to 6,000 to whatever you are doing now, for a total of 10,000 or more each day. The more steps you take, the better.
- Shop Smart. Start your food control at the grocery store. Shop on a full stomach, use a list, read the labels on every food you buy, and skip any food that is not part of your chosen eating plan.
- Take Notes. As you plan your eating and activity strategies, keep records. What types of foods are you eating? How do the calories add up? How much are you moving? As you lose weight, record what works for you and what doesn’t. Review your notes so you can change strategies if needed.
- Weigh Less. Don’t get on the scales every day. Once a week is fine. Try measuring inches lost instead of pounds.
- Plan Ahead. Plan your meals, plan for ups and downs, plan for holidays and plan to feel great when you’ve made health a daily habit. If you can do what’s right 75 percent of the time, you’re going to succeed in the long run!