The first most common concern I hear from women struggling to lose weight is will they ever be able to lose the weight now that they are over 40 years of age. Their second biggest concern is will they actually be able to maintain it. In particular, can they maintain it and still be able to have a lifestyle that is enjoyable or will they have to live a deprived lifestyle living on broccoli, chicken and salads for the rest of their life in order to maintain their weight.
The fear of not being able to maintain their weight loss is the thing that keeps them up at night especially for women who have a history of losing and gaining the weight back plus more….is history just going to repeat itself again?
For this reason truly successful weight loss needs to address the issues around maintaining weight as a sustainable lifestyle.
As one of my clients said to me years ago before she started working with me,
“Dr Sher I can do deprivation very well I just can’t do moderation”
So what is the secret to moderation where one can eat well majority of the time (80%) and still leave some wiggle room for indulgences once in a while (20%) and not feel that their food choices need to be very restricted for the rest of their lives.
Integrate Mind and Body
There are two elements that need to be considered which make a huge difference to whether you’re going to be able to maintain the weight after you lose it. These two elements are the state of the body and mindset. By mindset, I am including thoughts, beliefs, old habitual patterns, emotional relationship with food and mindfulness. People can white knuckle their way through a weight loss plan for a period of time, but where they really face reality is if they can keep it off afterwards? So keeping this in mind, how you go about losing weight in terms of the impact on your body AND the impact on your mindset ultimately is what’s going to set you up to be able to maintain your weight long term afterwards?
In this blog I am going to just focus on the body aspect of weight loss and maintenance. The future blogs over the next 3 weeks will focus on mindset.
How you go about losing weight is going to make a difference as to whether you are setting up your body to make it easier for you to maintain your weight afterwards or to make it much more difficult. You want your body to be working with you not against you when you are trying to maintain.
The 4 Pillars of Weight Loss that set up the Body for long term Maintenance:
- Use Real Food
Any time you’re trying to lose weight, you must use real food.
I know there’s a lot out there in the weight loss market that seems to provide fast weight loss and certainly seems to simplify the process by using bars, shakes, prepackaged foods, juices/cleanses and the list goes on and on. The challenge with all of those options is that even if they work for weight loss they are not real and not sustainable. Do you plan to live on those fake or packaged foods forever??? At some point you will likely want to go back to eating your own food but you likely have not learned how to eat properly in order to maintain your weight.
Quite frankly using real food is just healthier and your body needs to be healthy in order to maintain your weight. It needs the right micronutrients, enough fiber, the right balance of protein, fats and healthy carbs so that you have a healthy gut, healthy liver, healthy immune system. This supports digestion, detoxification, blood sugar transportation and minimizes inflammation. Weight maintenance is not just about what you eat it is also about what is happening in your body therefore, you must eat a nutrient rich real food food plan when you’re losing weight so your body is healthier and then it can maintain your weight more easily afterwards.
- Healthy weight loss targeting fat and keeping muscle
Healthy weight loss is not just about the number on the scale. That number is the tip of the iceberg. Healthy weight loss means the loss is coming from losing body fat, some water loss but keeping lean body mass or muscle. Unhealthy weight loss results in muscle loss and this is an issue because the metabolism slows down. You have likely heard the expression “starvation mode” which basically is another way of saying your metabolism has slowed down. When a metabolism slows down it means that the body is burning less calories to function. In my practise I would measure metabolism so I could always see what was happening. As you can imagine if you started a weight loss program and at the end of it your metabolism is burning 400 calories less per day than it did when you started, you would need to make sure you ate less food in maintenance otherwise you will put weight on. This is a big reason why some people start putting on weight because their body doesn’t need as much food but they don’t realize it. This happened to a lot of the contestants in the show The Biggest Loser.
In order to ensure that you can maintain your weight loss from a body perspective you want to make when you’re losing weight, it’s a healthy form of weight loss targeting fat AND keeping muscle.
How to target fat but keep muscle – 2 methods:
Method 1: So typically, if people are using a more traditional approach for weight loss where they’re using food/glucose for fuel, then weight loss needs to be slow and steady, usually about 1- 1.5 pounds per week. Generally the recommendations for women would be a target of 300-500 calorie deficit/day and for men it would be 500-700 caloric deficit/day. In order to burn 1 lb of fat/week you need a deficit of 3500 calories/week. If you decrease calories more than that, your body will lose muscle and go into starvation mode and metabolism will drop. That means you will have a harder time maintaining your weight afterwards.
Method 2: There is an alternative way to lose weight that will still target fat but you can burn more fat/week while keeping muscle. Rather than using glucose/food for fuel we get your body to use your own body fat for fuel, this is called nutritional ketosis. When done properly people can burn 2-5 lbs/week of FAT and keep their muscle. This is what I use in all my programs. Using this method of weight loss is faster but still targets fat and because muscle is maintained, metabolism stays the same making it much easier to maintain weight afterwards.
The point being that no matter which method you choose for fueling your body while losing weight, just do it properly so you target fat loss and keep your muscle. Then you are setting up your metabolism and body to support maintenance afterwards.
How you go about losing weight has an impact on the hormones including insulin, which manages your blood sugar, cortisol which is the stress hormone along with the appetite hormones, leptin and gherlin. All of these hormones from a body standpoint can contribute to weight gain. When losing weight you want to make sure that these hormones are under control so it is easier to lose weight but as well you will be able to maintain it more easily in the future.
- Transition Phase
Do you know what to do to transition from losing weight to maintaining and how to make the necessary changes and how to do it gradually? Often people may have a plan they are following while losing weight which gives them the structure and clarity but when they hit their goal and start maintenance they have no plan and it becomes a free for all. They don’t know how much to eat, how often or what they should be eating? They also introduce too much too soon into their weekly food plan and then they start putting on weight again.
For this reason in all my weight loss programs I have included a Locking In Phase which serves the purpose of helping people make this transition in their eating habits from losing weight to how to eat to maintenance. This allows for the gradual changes to their food plan over 4 weeks from how they ate to lose weight to how they can eat to maintain their weight. So at the end of that Locking In phase, clients enter maintenance meaning they can then follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time they eat well knowing what to eat and how much to eat so it is healthy and then there is room for less healthy options or indulgences if they like 20% of the time. Creating this structure at the end of losing weight will help you transition from losing to maintenance so take the time to still do some planning and then you will have the certainty you need so you can maintain your weight with ease.
I’m not going to address the mindset issue contributing to people going way off track with maintenance in terms of cravings and behaviors with unhealthy foods, but I will address that in my blogs over the next few weeks.
These are the 4 pillars that will affect your body in such a way that it will make a big difference to you being able to keep the weight off and maintain it long term. In one of my future blogs this month I will talk about another body focused strategy called course correction. Life can throw us some curveballs so even with our best efforts to maintain weight at times there can be an increase in weight. Having clear cut strategies to make a course correction as required if weight is creeping up will make a big difference in being able to manage weight in the long term? Making little corrections along the way means long term maintenance. Keep your eyes open for that blog along with the ones focused on mindset and how to create the mindset that will help you maintain your weight.
I hope you found this information helpful.If you want to learn more:
- You can book a complimentary call, and discuss your challenges, and obstacles, and together we can determine if my program is right for you.
- You can also go to my Facebook page, @DrSherBovay, where you can find and join my Private Facebook group, The FastLane Mind Body Reset Mastery Group. Here, I host Facebook lives and frequent posts where you can engage and learn more.