It’s Love Your Body Monday, and as promised, today I’m going to talk about how to maintain weight loss once you’ve achieved your desired weight. I’ve pointed out in past posts that weight loss isn’t the goal, maintaining a healthy weight for life is the goal.
In August, I wrote Love Your Body, Weight Loss Is Not the Goal. If you haven’t read that post yet, I would highly encourage you to go there now and read it. Thanksgiving week, I received an email from Cathy McIntosh who read that blog post and sent me the following email of how it changed her life. She also wrote a post you might want to read:
Hi, Janet. Your post “It’s Not About Weight Loss” really touched my life and I wanted to let you know I wrote about it on my own blog. Thanks so much for your post. I have new freedom. The Lord certainly used your words!
Blessings, Cathy McIntosh
In previous blogs, I’ve pointed out the reason weight loss is not the goal: if you haven’t learned how to change your eating habits, any weight loss is likely to be temporary. That’s why as a former Registered Dietitian, I don’t advocate shakes, shots, starvation diets, eliminating major food groups, packaged meals, quick gimmicks, or anything that deviates from simply eating a well-balanced, portion-controlled diet. Why? Because any of the other ways are temporary: you aren’t going to drink shakes, get shots, stay on drastically reduced calorie diets, go without a food group, afford packaged foods, or stay on any of the quick-fix “regimes” for life.
So you might reach a desired weight loss, but then what? If you haven’t learned how to replace destructive eating habits/patterns with constructive long-term eating habits, you’ll revert to the way you ate before. And with that, the weight quickly returns, often with extra pounds. Sound familiar?
Here is a fact you can count on: Once you achieve your desired weight, the minute you start eating more calories then you’re currently taking in … you’re going to start gaining weight back. Maybe you eliminated bread and now you’re so excited to have a sandwich … extra pound on the scales. You didn’t have sugar, but now you’re going to reward yourself with the ice cream you’ve been craving. Another pound. And so it goes. At first, it’s just a pound or two and you’re sure you can handle it. Well then, it’s only five pounds. Uh oh…it’s only been a few weeks and you’re watching the scales creep back up. You panic and try to go back on the shakes, shots, gimmick diets, or maybe just give up and bring out the next size up of clothes.
Achieving and Maintaining Long-term Weight Loss Means Making Wise Choices Daily.
I heard a commercial on TV for a hypnosis weight loss program and one of the things they said which is true, maintained weight loss requires a mind change. But you don’t need to be hypnotized to change your attitude and mind about eating. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13). And He wants to renew your mind.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Ways to Maintain Weight Loss
- Pray. The first thing in maintaining weight loss is to seek God’s help. He has a greater purpose for you, but you can’t achieve all that He has planned if your focus is on food or your eating is contributing to bad health. One of the things I love about First Place 4 Health, the ministry for which I wrote God’s Best for Your Life, is that they look at all aspects of maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle that includes the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects of our life.
- Don’t Eliminate Food Groups. God made your body to function best by eating all the basic food groups. Eliminating any of them means you deprive your body of necessary minerals and vitamins. For example, your body needs some carbohydrates for energy. If it doesn’t receive what it needs, it starts storing other foods as fat. God designed your body to prevent you from starving to death, and it has no idea when you plan to feed it again. So just in case, it keeps a reserve in the form of fat.
Maybe you were eating more carbs than you needed, or eating the wrong kind, but eventually you’re going to want some carbs. If you’ve been denying yourself, there’s a good chance you’re going to eat the wrong kind when you add them back into your diet. You need grains. I’ve recommended before Choose My Plate to help you understand the foods your body needs every day. BTW sugar and alcohol are not food groups; they’re wasted calories.
- Portion Control. Again, Choose My Plate can help you determine appropriate portion size. Eat on a small plate and only eat what fits on that plate . . . one time. Don’t put food on the table to make it too easy to take second helpings or nibble. Weigh out 3 ounces of meat to see what that looks like. Measure out a ½ cup of rice or oatmeal or a teaspoon of butter. Remember what you eat while cooking or cleaning up after meals…or off your kids’ plates… are all calories. If possible, have someone else put away leftovers.
- Eat Out Wisely. In another blog post, Love Your Body–On Vacation, I talk about how to eat out. You can still enjoy eating out, but choose wisely off the menu. Only read descriptions of foods you know are healthy. Don’t let yourself be tempted by fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy, “Just this once because you’re celebrating.” Portions are always too large in restaurants. Ask for a to-go box when your food arrives and put half of it in the box. You won’t feel like you’re wasting money if you can enjoy it at another meal.
- Celebrate But Don’t Deviate. We just finished Thanksgiving and now we’re headed into one of the most challenging times of the year to eat wisely, but you can do it. I talk about how to do that in Love Your Body–During the Holidays.
- Weigh Daily. Purchase a good set of scales that also measures body fat. Weigh at the same time every morning without clothes, before you eat or drink anything. Then you can’t blame any gain on your slippers or the glass of water you just drank. If the scale goes up a pound, don’t panic, but don’t ignore it. You either ate too much the day before or didn’t exercise enough. We all vacillate a pound or two naturally, but you’ll learn what that range is for you, and let it be a red flag the minute you go over it. Don’t wait until it’s five pounds; cut back on calories right away and add to your exercise regime. You’ll soon learn the caloric intake and exercise output that keeps you at your ideal weight.
- Keep a Food Journal. In Love Your Body—Use Technology to Lose Weight, my daughter Kim talked about how she lost weight by keeping track of her calories on her phone. You can do the same to maintain your weight. It’s easy to fool yourself that you haven’t been eating much, or “I never eat _____.” But if you’re gaining weight, there’s no fooling your body. Yes, you are eating more and recording every bite will show you where you’ve added extra food intake.
As you read this blog, you should be noticing that if you’ve been following the Love Your Body series the past couple of years, I’ve been giving you tools all along to maintain your weight loss and stay at a healthy weight for your individual body. The key that everyone needs to learn, understand, and accept is that healthy eating is for a lifetime! Your body is always going to operate on a balance of calories in, calories out. That’s never going to change no matter how you try to circumvent it. But what can change is your mindset toward food and your body.
When you became a Christian, you put away the sinful way of thinking and the old self to become a new creation in Christ, so you can do this with food too.
When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:21-24
Don’t let Satan fool you that it’s impossible for you. You can put on the new way of thinking about food and a healthy lifestyle and put off all the chains that have bound you over the years and have stopped you from enjoying the body that God created you to take care of and cherish—His temple.
I would love to hear what’s helped you to maintain your weight loss.
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