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Coach Nancy's 6 Keys to Weight Loss Maintenance

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I was one of those people who spent over half my life dieting. Depending on what was going on in my life I was either 'on' a diet or 'off' a diet. Sadly dieting was a way of life for me. But that all changed on February 9, 2005, the day I began my final journey to a healthier me. I was determined to make this a lifestyle and not just a quick means to get the weight off only to find myself back to square one in just a few short months.

I often said that losing weight was the easy part for me as I had done so a number of times in the past and had become quite the expert of famine, soon followed by feasting once I reached my weight loss destination. However when it came to keeping the weight off, that was the bigger of the two challenges and one that I failed at for well over 30 years. I used to tell my girlfriends that when it came to losing weight I was the Queen of Weight Loss, but the Joker in Weight Maintenance.

In the past once I reached my goal weight it did not take me long to return to my old ways. It was amazing how quickly I fell back so easily to my old ways. In my frustration I would throw in the towel only to vow to do it the 'right' way the next time. I may be a slow learner, but one thing I can say, I vowed to never give up my quest to conquer the diet beast. For me taking the focus off my weight and placing it on my health was the catalyst that changed my whole perspective. I had to realize that my weight alone did not determine my health or fitness, nor did it measure my self-worth. So by giving up the power the scale held over me for more than half my life I was finally able to break away from the constraints of living by a number.

It has been over 3 1/2 years since I reached my goal weight and if the statics from the National Weight Control Registry stand true, "individuals who had kept their weight off for 2 years or more had markedly increased odds of continuing to maintain their weight over the following year" I have hope that this is true for me as well.

So for those of you who have reached your weight loss goal, I hope you will share with others your success to keeping the weight off. In the mean time I have listed my six keys to helping me maintain my weight loss and I hope they will help you as well.
  • Have a goal weight range
This was a tip I received from renowned Sports Registered Dietitian Nancy Clark when I attended her workshop a few years ago. She stated that our body's weight will fluctuate throughout the day and week because of the natural shift  in fluid from so many different factors.
It isn't the single number that determines our weight success, but the trend of our weight over a period of time. If the number trends consistently high week after week then I may need to be a little more vigilant with my nutrition and workouts. Or if my clothes become a little more snug then it is time to go back to what I know works and that is tracking my nutrition and keeping my activity level high.
This daily swing was once a big source of my frustration and could make or break my mood by just a single action of stepping on the scale. If I had a great week working out and eating well and the number was up, it was devastating. However when I had a not so great week and the number was down I was left in a state of confusion. So having a range of 2-3 pounds either side of my goal weight has allowed me to deal with the daily fluctuation of my weight.
  • Track your nutrition a couple times  a week
As studies have shown, those who track their nutrition lose twice as much weight as those who don't, therefore, making this one of the most powerful tools in our weight maitenance arsenals. Three and a half years later I still track my nutrition a few times a week just to make sure I am consuming the proper nutrients, especially protein and healthy fats, which help facilitate muscle repair and recovery. By tracking my nutrition it also keeps me mindful as to my portion size and as well as allowing me to making minor adjustments in my calorie intake based on my current activity schedule.
  • Keep active
Committing myself to 45 minutes of activity at least 5 days a week has allowed me to keep the weight off, but it also helps me deal with the stress in my life which in the past would be the time I would turn to food for comfort. I also strive to be more active throughout the day. These small pockets of activity are a wonderful way to burn extra calories even when we don't track them. Activities such as taking the stairs, getting up and moving during commercials, even setting a timer by my computer forcing me to get up every hour can do wonders in keeping my weight down.
  • Keep drinking your water
On January 1st I will celebrate my three year anniversary of being Diet Coke free, a habit I never thought I would break. Even though it was quite difficult in the beginning to give up this habit, I now find water to be a perfect beverage for me.
  • Make others aware of your goals
One of the best ways to keep me accountable is making others aware of my goals. This way I have others to turn to when I find my passion for running or going to the gym fading.  It is amazing what a little outside motivation can do to keep you on track.
  • Join the National Weight Control Registry
By  joining the National Weight Control Registry in 2009, I knew that if  I was accepted I would have to be accountable to someone else besides  me.
To qualify you must have lost at least 30 pounds and maintained that loss for at least a year. If you meet the criteria and elect to join the NWCR, you will be sent a very extensive questionnaire regarding your weight loss history and measures you are taking to keep the weight off. Then periodically you are sent follow up surveys as to how well you are doing. It is a great tool for accountability.
A few weeks ago I heard a spokeswoman from the National Weight Control Registry being interviewed and when she was asked what the key to long-term weight loss success was, she stated that it was a "long-tem maintenance of behavior."  Hearing those words were precisely what has allowed me to be free from dieting. In order to achieve a healthy life, you have to LIVE a healthy lifestyle. This is something that takes time and perseverance, but something we can all achieve when we focus on the overall picture of health and fitness and not just a number on the scale. It's about changing the way we view our journey.

Have you met your goal weight and if so, what are some measures you have in place to maintain your weight loss? Have you joined the National Weight Control Registry and if not, would that be something you would consider doing?

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Absolutely awesome advice from an awesome person walking the walk!

Thanks Nancy! Report
I am just a week into maintenance, so this was a really useful. I know what strategies it took to get here, but am just starting to put together my maintenance strategies and tactics. I am still tracking and exercising daily, but am not sure to what level I will continue. My eating habits are so ingrained now (1 year and 3 months), that I do not see myself going back to my pre-Spark diet. Some things will have to change (I don't have any desire to loose more weight). I just want to be sure I change the right tactics to the correct degree. Like the weight-loss journey itself, I suppose everyone's strategies and tactics need to be adjusted to their own lifestyle and preferences. Report
Nancy, this was SO helpful! I have put that "National Weight Loss Registry" in my reminder appointments for April 8th--my one year anniversary for maintenance. I'm saving this blog! It was SO helpful on many levels for me! {{{hugs}}} Susan Report
I too joined the NWCR in 2009 after I lost 60 pounds and kept it off for a year. I know that every year I keep that weight off, the chances of it staying off forever increase. I agree with everything you say here. I do track my food pretty much every day still. I found when I get away from tracking, my weight starts to creep up. Report
Nice article. The things that have helped me with maintenance is the fact I realized that it's a life style change and not a diet. I make sure to keep up with my workouts. I have become a lover of working out. I also make sure that when I slip up and eat somethiing I shouldn't I look at it as a bump in the road and I do not tell myself that I am starting over. In the past when I told myself I was starting over I felt like such a faliure that it made me give up all together. When I decided it was my body and I got to decide how I take care of it that helped too. Report
I am very new to maintenance. Woo-Hoo! I am still trying to adjust my mindset to the reality of it.

I absolutely love the tips given, especially the NWCR. The only thing I plan to do differently is track every single day, which is what I've been doing all along. I can't imagine not tracking everyday. For me, it's the most important tool on SP and has significantly impacted my success.

One other thing I just started to do is to become very aware of what my pitfalls are do what I can to prevent them next time I encounter a similar situations. Report
I am now part of the National Weight Control Registry. It was empowering to say YES I have lost weight and kept it off. It seems like now since I lost the weight friends and family are wondering if I am going to keep it up. Darn tooting I will! Report
A "long-tem maintenance of behavior." Perfectly summed up and absolutely true! Coach Nancy, you hit every one of the requirements perfectly. Report
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