Would it surprise you to know that 13 out of 14 Biggest Loser contestants weigh more today than when the competition wrapped? If you’ve ever been on a weight loss plan, maybe not. Many people who lose drastic amounts of weight struggle tremendously in the aftermath to keep it off . . . without success.
This is largely due to the fact that severely restricting caloric intake – which is one of the hallmarks of any weight loss plan – leads to a drop in metabolism. Once someone begins eating normally again, his or her metabolism goes haywire, can’t deal with the increased calories, and immediately stores them as body fat.
So how can you avoid this phenomenon and kick the weight to the curb once and for all? Here are 4 strategies for ensuring that your weight loss journey doesn’t go backwards:
1. Be a Long-Term Thinker.
The vast majority of people think of weight loss plans as short-term sprints and immediately take their feet off the gas when they reach whatever finish line they’ve set for themselves. Rather than thinking of your diet and training routine as a short-term measure, focus on making more permanent lifestyle changes that will become part of your identity and be palatable over the long run.
True, you may lose weight more slowly by not slashing your calories and running for hours every day on the treadmill. But what you lose in speed you’ll make up for in sustainability. On average, a 1 to 2 pound per week weight loss is around what you should be aiming for. Anything faster than that and you’re liable to put it all right back on once your lifestyle returns to “normal.”
2. Have Fun and Don’t Punish Yourself.
By that same token, the more enjoyable you’re able to make your training routine, the more likely you are to make it a permanent fixture in your life. Whether it’s swimming, yoga, weight lifting, running, or your childhood sport, find some type of physical activity you love and build it into your repertoire. When exercise stops being a chore and starts being second nature, you’ll be far more successful in hitting your goals than the person who hits it hard for two months, burns out, and quits.
3. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail.
As I’ve drilled into my clients many a time, there’s nothing that will set you back more than failing to prepare your meals. When you have a balanced lunch at the ready, you’re significantly less likely to swing by the drive-thru or grab that candy bar from the vending machine. Set aside a few hours over the weekend to pre-cook and package wholesome meals with lean meats, veggies, and complex carbs that can be taken with you during the week. This will save a significant amount of time, energy, and aggravation over the long run, while setting you up to stay on your clean eating game.
4. Enlist Support.
It’s much easier to stay consistent and avoid temptation when you have a support system in place that knows about, respects, and wants to further your goals. Whether it’s your family, your gym partner, or a work colleague, we all need someone to give us a little pick-me-up from time to time. You shouldn’t see asking for help as a sign of weakness, but rather as a positive investment in your fitness goals. Having that special someone in your life to motivate and keep you honest will give you a significant leg up in avoiding a relapse into past bad habits.