6 Tips for Long-Term Maintenance of Weight LossMay 6, 2016
You had weight loss surgery, cruised through the “honeymoon” phase of your weight loss journey in the first twelve to eighteen months after surgery, and now face the reality of maintaining and managing your weight loss amidst life’s constant stressors.
Your weight loss surgery has provided you with a tool to lose weight, however, the cultivation of healthy habits before and during the first 12 to 18 months after surgery proves to be the most crucial in building a strong foundation for long-term success and weight maintenance.
The Challenge of Long-Term Maintenance
Research establishes “long-term weight maintenance is even more challenging than following the initial weight loss…[and] many formal weight loss programs report that dieters frequently regain weight three to five years after they achieve their weight loss goals”.
Individuals who successfully maintain their weight loss state that “paying careful attention to all aspects of behavior modification is necessary for long-term weight management…[to] detect and correct small amounts of weight gain before weight escalates and becomes unmanageable”.
So when should you re-evaluate your habits? Though the scale proves helpful for monitoring weight loss, it only gives you limited information due to body fluctuations. Focus on how your clothes are fitting, how are your energy levels throughout the day, and how positive your mindset remains are healthier and more sustainable methods to maintain weight loss long-term.
When you experience external stressors and feel as though one (or more) of these internal components begins to disengage and get off-balance, take a moment to step back, re-evaluate daily habits, and get back to the basics. Another helpful strategy for long-term maintenance is to keep track of your food and fitness.
6 Tips for Long-Term Maintenance
PLAN AHEAD: Take control of what you do have control over and stay proactive. When unexpected events and scenarios bombard us, we continuously have the option to remain in charge of our health by committing a fraction of our time and energy to cultivate habits within our abilities.
1. Plan for your trip to the grocery store. Take 15 minutes before going to the grocery store to sit down and plan meals and snacks for the week. When making your grocery list, focus on the outer perimeters of the grocery store (fresh produce, lean meats, eggs, and low-fat dairy products). Research proves that grocery lists “may be effective interventions for facilitating healthier diets, and for promoting weight loss among overweight and obese individuals”.
2. Plan your fitness. Schedule exercise into your week. The general recommendation is “30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day to prevent weight gain and 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity to prevent weight regain”. Focus on more movement and more consistency not only for weight management but for improved mental clarity and outlook as well.
3. Plan for the surprises of life to stay in control. Regardless of our efforts, stressors will come and go with the natural ebb and flow of our private and professional lives. Whether our stressors currently reside in the ebb (“outgoing”) phase or the flow (“incoming”) phase of our life, persistence with efforts to plan ahead must remain consistent overall, not only to maintain weight loss but to also maintain our invaluable physical and mental health long-term.
GET MOVING: Now that we constructed a plan, move forward to act on it! Remain intentional not only by constructing a plan but with your follow through too. Forbid any disconnect between setting your plan and putting your plan into action. Focus on establishing your intentions each day and setting small priorities to allow consistency with dietary intake, physical activity, and mental clarity.
4. Get moving for your meals by food preparation. After unloading the groceries, take a moment to rinse and chop vegetables, cook a few lean proteins, and prepare the majority of fluids, meals, and snacks for the week. Spending a few extra moments once a week to prepare or freeze foods ahead of time will aid in minimal preparation throughout the week as well as accountability to make healthier choices.
5. Get moving by scheduling your fitness as a set appointment. Create a workout schedule around your work and home life schedules. Whether implementing movement first thing in the morning fits your schedule best, or having a family workout in the evening, incorporate what is most conducive to your schedule, and focus on activities you enjoy.
6. Get moving in your life by staying focused on overall health. Maintaining positive mental health is important for long-term weight loss success. Finding hobbies, or non-food alternatives, to aid in stress management and maintenance of a positive outlook remains important for optimal health overall.
The HAES (Health at Every Size) Approach focuses on healthful behaviors primarily, before weight loss, including “eating a healthful diet…physical activity, getting the proper amount of sleep, stress management, finding the joy in life, and intuitive eating”, all of which are vital components required together to maximize our overall health. These behaviors focus on lifestyle management as the ultimate goal. Several studies have recently shown how this approach “positively affects eating behaviors and appetite”. The HAES Approach should not be mistaken as an excuse to let loose with our habits, but rather offer a holistic approach regarding how to maintain optimal health, through maintaining weight loss long-term after bariatric surgery.
ABOUT THE AUTHORElise Hays, RD, LD, completed her undergraduate degree at Baylor University in 2014, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Science. She completed her Dietetic Internship at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Elise gained valuable experience during her Dietetic Internship working at two different bariatric programs with several different bariatric dietitians. Since completing her internship, Elise works with multiple bariatric programs and continues to further her education in nutrition and weight loss management.