If you want to maintain your weight naturally, you have to think about weight loss differently. In our society, there is too much emphasis on deprivation as the cornerstone of healthy weight loss. ("No pain, no gain.") But as we all know, these sorts of strategies don't work. To break the cycle, you need to change your thinking to always ask "how can I maintain these changes for life?"

These tips can help you embrace a natural, healthy approach weight loss. 

1. Understand what successful weight loss really means. 

Most people who are trying to lose weight fixate on the wrong thing. How often have you heard someone emphasize the success of their weight loss by telling you how quickly they did it? (As in: "I lost 10 pounds in 10 days!")  

But what's the point of losing 10 pounds and then gaining it back a few days later? Your measure of successful weight loss should be losing it and keeping it off. And that means the next step is to accept that, when it comes to weight loss, deadlines are like poison.

We're often told that setting a deadline is a good idea for any goal. It forces you to focus and take action. But with weight loss, it has a very negative effect. When weight loss doesn't follow the schedule that you've set for yourself (and most people set very unrealistic schedules) then it makes you stressed and to turn to short-term strategies like starving yourself.

A deadline creates stress, and what you want to encourage is relaxed long-term focus. So instead of a deadline, set two goals: (1) your eventual goal, and (2) your short-term goal.

An example of an eventual goal might be to lose 30 pounds. In that case, a good short-term goal is 10 pounds because it's still a significant amount. You really feel like you're making progress, and you are. 

2. Losing weight should fit around your lifestyle. 

Instead of overturning your life to cater to the next fad diet, think in the opposite way, as in: "How do I make this weight loss program fit in with my life?" Always ask "Would I be willing to keep doing this in two years?"

So for instance, some people have a love-hate relationship with the gym. It's all fine when they're going, but then they get busy, they don't go, and it can sometimes be months before they get back. This means it's unreliable. So keep the gym as your "icing on the cake" exercise, but try and invest more effort in increasing your daily activity. Some ideas: 

  • Park further away from where you're going, so you can get some extra walking to the car.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Play with your kids or grandkids.
Can you see how these thing are less likely to fall by the wayside because they can be interwoven into your general lifestyle?

3. Don't do anything drastic. 

It might seem like a good idea to drastically cut the amount of food you eat overnight. But it's not sustainable. And it's unpleasant! A much better strategy is to stick to small, gradual changes. Some good examples are:

  • Cutting down portion sizes by 5 to 10%
  • Picking a high calorie snack you often eat, and cutting back on how much you eat
  • Stopping second servings

These don't seem like big changes, but if you incorporate lots of little ones, then it certainly adds up.

4. Don't expect perfection. 

If a child is learning to read, do we expect perfection asap? Of course not. Because the child is learning a totally new skill and it takes time and lots of mistakes. 

We need to extend the same level of compassion to ourselves when we're trying to learn a new way of managing our weight. Learn to be patient with mistakes; learn what you did wrong, and make a plan to avoid it in future. 

And then keep going! 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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