Three Lessons from the “Too Thin” Biggest Loser Winner

Biggest Loser feb 2014While The Biggest Loser inspires many viewers, I don’t watch it because there is so much focus on quick-weight loss and not enough on what it takes, psychologically and emotionally as well as with exercise and nutrition, for long-term wellness. Have to admit that even I was shocked when all of the articles ran yesterday, like this one in Entertainment Weekly, that showed the season’s winner, Rachel Frederickson, losing 155 lbs. to land at 105 lbs., which on her 5-foot 4-inches frame is well below the body mass index of a healthy range.  Her emaciated arms contrasted greatly with the joyous smile on her face and it broke my heart. That’s why I wanted to share three lessons we can learn from Rachel’s experience:

  1. Look for encouragement in other ways. When I slowly but surely took off 50 pounds over 20 years ago, getting compliments from people helped fuel that journey. I hadn’t gotten much positive attention for my appearance before and it was thrilling. After that 15-month process though, others got used to the new healthier, fit version of me and compliments slowed down to a trickle. So if you’ve come to rely on the lovely feeling of being cheered on and then it dissipates, that can be hard. Finding encouragement from other means, including yourself, is essential in maintaining a healthy balance with your weight and overall wellness.
  2. There can be too much of a good thing.  Losing pounds at some point should stop when you reach a healthy weight with strong muscle mass. Rather than continuing with behaviors that focus just on shedding pounds, consider consulting certified nutrition and exercise professionals or a physician to find the right balance for your individual body. Weight loss maintenance actually takes a different set of skills to thrive in the long-term. Many successful weight losers deal with “course corrections” along the way, in the form of gaining back a few pounds to reach a healthier, more maintainable place or having to shed extra weight that might return as habits shift in life.
  3. Get realistic role models. Rachel is a voice-over actress in Los Angeles, where many women in the entertainment industry are encouraged to be as thin as possible. If she has been working in an environment where trying to emulate runway model skinny is seen as success, then the weight she landed probably seems delightful to her.  And I know there’s a whole argument out there that Rachel could be absolutely healthy and is beaming in the media interviews when describing her experience. But given the importance of emphasizing being fit over being skinny to others looking at Biggest Loser winners as their role models, I wonder about the negative impact this could potentially have.

What are your thoughts? Does she look too skinny or should we all shut up and let her be thin in peace? Have you ever had to consciously regain a few pounds for better health?

 

Photo Image Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

 

Want real change? Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions and focus on supported goals instead

Ditch the New Year's Resolutions According to a recent Marist Poll, 44% of Americans are planning to make a change in the New Year. Many of the survey respondents are making New Year’s resolutions for better health or a happier life, with the largest amount aiming to lose pounds, exercise more or eat better. However – no surprise here – only 8% of people actually keep those resolutions according to a University of Scranton study.  Bummer, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Here are a few steps you can take to create real, positive change in 2014:

  • Set realistic, clear goals. Let’s say that you vow to be happier in 2014. What does that actually mean? Do you crave more alone time, want less stress, desire a new job or a better relationship? Break down that big desire into a clear goal in order to make it actionable and obtainable. For example. if decreasing stress is your objective, then your action steps could include installing a smart phone app that takes you through a guided meditation three times a week and stop checking emails at least two hours before bedtime to give your mind time to rest.
  • Plan ahead. Haven’t tried to exercise since George W was in the White House but now understand that moving more will give you more energy? Awesome goal. But don’t just try to jog on the treadmill wearing flip-flops and street clothes (no lie, saw a dude in just that garb at our hotel gym in the Bahamas last week). Do some research and create your fitness plans in advance to ensure better results and minimize injuries. Many gyms offer a complimentary session with a personal trainer who can teach you the most effective ways to exercise. Search online for “how to” videos and content on running, Yoga, swimming better or just about any other activity. Tell the  Zumba instructor this is your first time in class so he/she can give you pointers and keep an eye out for you. And dress for exercise success to maximize your performance and comfort.
  • Make it real. The more you can bring a goal to life increases your chances of long-term success.  One of my big goals for 2014 is to finish writing and publish my book, which focuses on helping people get unstuck and have the life of their dreams.  I’m visual, so making this goal a reality for me includes journaling about it, having it become one of the cornerstones of the vision board I’m creating this weekend with friends, posting positive messages about it on the edge of my computer screen and more. Pick one of your goals for a moment and think about how you can bring it to life. Since weight loss tops the list of so many people, could it be motivating to take photos of your progress each month to share via social media, pick out clothes you plan to buy in advance when certain milestones are met, put a photo of yourself at your hottest on the front of the fridge as a motivator to make healthier food selections?
  • Get support. Sharing a goal with like-minded, positive souls can increase your chances of success. My husband, who is already fit as an Ironman triathlete, is about to start a 30-day Paleo eating program to clean up his nutrition. His triathlon coach is doing the same, which creates a direct connection of support, while I’m reinforcing my own clean eating habits by ensuring we won’t have any processed foods, sweets, items with gluten or dairy around that don’t meet his goals or mine either. Even this little circle of support will help us all succeed in our healthier eating objectives. Whatever you are focusing on, talking about your goals and sharing milestones, challenges and tips with others can really make a difference.

What are some of your goals for 2014? Do you set New Year’s Resolutions and if so, what makes or breaks them?

Five Things I’d Like to Tell My “Heavier” Self

Call me sentimental, but this time of year always prompts me to reflect on my wellness journey. After all, I consider September 4, 1992 as the start date of the healthy habits that have also provided me with a happier, more fulfilling life.  In lieu of an official time machine, I’m going to close my eyes, click my ruby slippers – okay, cute blue flats – and turn back the hands of time to tell my heavier self, circa 1992, a few things:

  1. Just because you heard “but you have such a pretty face…” with the implied disappointment at the rest of your size for many years, it doesn’t mean that the rest of you can’t match.
  2. Eating better and exercising is a beautiful way to show how much you love yourself, even during the most difficult of times.
  3. Aim to feel better in body and spirit. Don’t give a damn about changing to make yourself more appealing to others.
  4. Thank you for slathering on the sun screen and accepting the Casper the Friendly Ghost jokes with ease. Your 46-year-old skin is very appreciative!
  5. Sure it’s 1992 and fashion sucks. But do you really have to wear shoulder pads like a linebacker while making your hair as tall as a lamppost?

And to mark this occasion, here are some before shots and an after from now, 20 years later. Yes, I finally dropped the shoulder pads and excessively big hair along the way!

What messages would you like to go back in the past and tell yourself at an earlier time? Do you have any special milestones or achievements you are currently celebrating?

Scaling back on self-judgment

So I have scaled mountains (the smallish-kind that don’t require oxygen tanks or Sherpa assistance) and as a Libra, regard the Scales of Justice as a pretty cool concept. But there’s one scale that has proven not to be my friend over time – the kind that measures your weight. During this summer of really clean eating, I’ve avoided calibrating my self-esteem by the number on a scale, getting in better physical shape in the process.

Like many health conscious women, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the scale since my teenage years. When I lost 50 pounds over 20 years ago, an important part of that was only weighing myself every two weeks or so to prevent any fixation with numbers.  But then I hit my forties and stuff slowed down a bit. Concerned with the regain of eight to ten pounds, I started relying on the scale more for measurement. After all, the National Weight Control Registry reported that 44% of their successful weight loss maintainers weighed themselves daily. So I tried that tactic…and it drove me batsh*t crazy. Didn’t lose any extra pounds, and gained a boatload of self-judgment.

Back in June, I told you about trying a 21 day “cleanse” created by Certified Health & Nutrition Coach Linda Citron. The title itself is misleading, as it was really a clean eating plan for embracing real foods and identifying items that weren’t so great for my body.  You weren’t allowed to weigh yourself during that time and in adopting many of the cleaner habits as my daily routine now, I wasn’t in any hurry to get back to it. The results included:

  • I dropped a clothing size and can now easily fit in those designer jeans that used to taunt me from the back of my closet.
  • As pictured below, this process helped me rock a form-fitting dress for my wedding celebration – without Spanx!
  • My energy, clarity and balance have significantly increased and stayed that way.
  • Eating clean diminished or completely eliminated mood swings, even during PMS.
  • It broke my sugar addiction. After years of all or (rather unsuccessfully) nothing, I lost the taste for it. I can eat one bite of chocolate and be done. In my world, this is a huge development on par with the discovery of electricity and indoor plumbing.

And even now, on this clean-eating journey for the long-term because it makes me feel so much better, I still don’t want to weigh myself and bring back tying my self-esteem to a number.

Clean eating helped me wear this dress without an assist from Spanx, after it had been too tight for months! And yeah, that’s my foxy new husband Justin in the shot too!

 

“It is important not to give your power to a number that is so arbitrary,” notes Success and Happiness Coach Michelle Goss, CPSC. “Moving away from the scale creates the opportunity to claim new measures of health and fitness.”

Moving forward, I’m going to stick with clothing fit to calibrate how I’m doing. How do you monitor your wellness? Addicted to the scale, or use other measurement?

Four Ways to Keep It (Your Diet) Real

From professional athletes with seven figure contracts to musical prodigies topping the charts, just about every celebrity talks about how they like to “keep it real.” You know, the same people who order custom-Gulfstream jets and rack up $200,000 shopping sprees at Barney’s before lunch.  It makes me laugh, much in the way that MC Hammer ironically bragged about his staying power in 1991’s “Too Legit to Quit” only to fizzle out a few years later.

However, one place where keeping it real truly pays off is your diet. Specifically, in the kinds of foods you eat. Consuming lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, veggies and other wholesome items will do your body a whole lot more good that relying on processed stuff whose nutrition label ingredients read like a chemistry experiment.

“Many people successfully lose weight on diet programs that substitute packaged meals, shakes and bars, all full of fake ingredients, for properly-prepared, whole foods,” says Certified Nutritional Therapist Joanna Brown. “Once they try to re-enter the real world, they have not learned how to cook real food for themselves or gained any knowledge about portion sizes.  Before they know it, the weight comes right back on.”

“After this yo-yoing, so many of us develop an all-or-nothing mentality, where we’re either binging or dieting but don’t know how to maintain a healthy weight and enjoy food in moderation,” continues Brown.  “I really love the diet programs out there that use real food, with no artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, chemicals and preservatives.  When we lose weight with whole foods, we’re not just getting skinnier, but nourishing our bodies so we can live longer, have plenty of energy and be less susceptible to disease.  We have to remember that there is a big difference between being skinny and being truly healthy.”

Well, I couldn’t agree with Joanna more. That’s why I’ve compiled these four tips to help keep your diet real:

1)      Develop your own Food Rules

Rules are an interesting thing. Some people live to break them. A series of hypocritical books about dating rules taught women how to play games to land the guy – only to have the co-author get divorced. When it comes to food, the rules can be downright confusing. That’s why I really liked Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Filled with wry humor, this little book features practical advice for making daily decisions about what to eat. Like the debate between Chicken McNuggets and free-range bird, or a Big Mac versus a Banana. Wisdom includes things like “Avoid food products containing ingredients a third-grader can’t pronounce” and “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.” Today, my personal nutrition “rules” include avoiding processed foods, using sugar sparingly and treating fruits and veggies like best friends.

 

2)      Eat Your Colors

Eating something fresh and colorful at every meal does your body good.  That is because the colors of many veggies and fruits reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain, which protects against chronic diseases.   Most people have heard the guideline of eating five fruits or vegetables a day, but feel free to consume more. In January 2011, a study conducted by the University of Oxford found that people who ate eight or more servings a day of fruit or veggies were 22% less likely to die from heart disease. But you don’t have to go that far to lower your health risk. For every serving of nature’s goodness eaten above two per day, these super-smart scientists observed a 4% decrease in the rate of heart disease deaths. And we’re not talking about a small, skewed study conducted at someone’s family reunion. The largest of its type, this research featured over 300,000 participants.

 

3)      Make processed the last priority

It’s probably no surprise that an apple is better for you than an apple-flavored pop tart. Now apply that same thinking to other food groups too. For example, fresh ground almond butter is a beautiful thing, while highly processed peanut butter with hydrogenated oils and sugars aren’t doing your body any favors. A lean cut of beef from the grocery store – bonus points for grass-fed, by the way – will always triumph the meat entrée in a frozen dinner. Less is more when it comes to processing foods. Opt for the whole, fresh versions whenever possible.

 

4)  Pay Attention to Beverages.

Before you think this whole discourse is just about food, the same thinking applies to beverages too. Sticking to unprocessed drinks helps your wellness and waistline. Feeling angelic because you avoid regular sodas and only stick to the diet stuff? Unfortunately, that may be part of the problem too. In July 2011, the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions featured data with a potentially ominous message – diet sodas could contribute to weight gain and those artificial sweeteners they contain might put you on the road to Type 2 diabetes.

One study cited from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio tracked any association between consuming diet drinks and body fat over time. Monitoring a sample of nearly 475 participants, they found that people who reported drinking diet sodas had 70% greater increases in waistline growth than non-drinkers over a period of three and a half years.  Even worse, people who guzzled at least two or more diet sodas each day experienced waistline growth that was 500% more than that of non-drinkers. Yikes! No wonder water is always my first beverage of choice.

Want more info on keeping your diet real? Check out some of the helpful links below.

How important is making healthy food choices in your diet? What changes have you made to keep it more real in your diet?

Great Resources:

Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source – http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/

American Dietetic Association’s Public Information Center – www.eatright.org

U.S. Government Collaborative Resources – www.nutrition.gov

WebMD’s Healthy Eating and Diet Center – www.webmd.com/diet

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov

Eat Well (sustainable food) – http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home

Michael Pollan’s Website (great articles, resources and links) – www.michaelpollan.com

 

When saying “no” too often triggers overindulgence

A few years back, Jim Carrey starred in a movie called “Yes Man” about a negative kind of guy who changed his life by saying yes to everything that came his way. Hadn’t thought much about it until now, when I realized that my constant efforts to say no to “treats” were causing me to crave them even more.   It made me wonder if carving out some room for regular indulgences can help maintain overall healthy living practices.

One of my goals this year is to embrace the best health and wellness of my life. I’m talking about the whole ball of wax here, with regular sleep and journaling for clarity getting as much attention as good nutrition and exercise. So at first, the food part of it sounded pretty simple. I would try to eat 100 grams of protein or more each day while keeping an eye on the overall calorie count. Avoid sweets like it is fashion advice from Christina Aguilera’s stylist.  Aim for five daily servings of fruits and vegetables while chugging down about 12 glasses of water during my waking hours.  While it appeared to be a sound plan, I forgot one very important aspect – the human factor. Trying to be “perfect” day in and out was causing me to crave some form of relief, usually in the form of sweets.

As nationally recognized Life Coach Michelle Goss explains, “The act of demonizing sugar or any particular food just gives it attention. Pressuring yourself to constantly say no can backfire, causing you to crave that item even more.”

So I chilled out a bit. Focused mostly on healthy choices while leaving the door open for measured indulgences – things like a quarter cup of trail mix with chocolate or a couple of chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. And when I did that, things have slowly gotten easier. Most days I don’t eat those item. But having the option there quells the rebellion before it takes place.

What is your current nutrition philosophy?  How do you balance healthy eating with indulgences?

Can Partnerships Help Reduce Childhood Obesity?

Partnerships can be a beautiful thing – just ask anyone whose buddy from that third grade field trip who kept them from being left behind, or check out how Thomas Edison’s collaboration with J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt’s brought his invention to a mass market. The same could now be true when it comes to tackling childhood obesity.  According to a September report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, some states are seeing declines in youth obesity from partnerships between schools and communities that focus on long-term education, better access to healthier foods and increasing activity levels.

After reading non-stop headlines on the growing childhood obesity crisis for the past few years, I was surprised and excited by these signs of progress. As noted in this Time Magazine story, places like New York, Philadelphia and cities in Mississippi and California are leading the downward trend. Okay, we already knew that the Big Apple is trying to take a more proactive stance and California has long been considered more innovative when it comes to healthy living. But who could have anticipated that Mississippi, one of the heaviest places in the U.S., or the home of cheesesteak sandwiches would make the list?

But there it was, news that Mississippi reported a 13.3% drop in childhood obesity and Philly saw the rates decrease by 4.7%.  Curious how this was achieved? Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Jim Marks, senior vice president and director of the RWJF Health Group says there is a pattern among the cities with the most significant declines. Most are implementing multiple, comprehensive programs that target both schools and communities by upping the availability of healthier foods and encouraging more physical activity and educational opportunities. “From this aggregation, it is clear now that any community that makes these kind of changes over a few years will see their children get healthier,” says Marks. “We have now enough places that have done this that we can confidently say to communities that if they make these changes, they will see these improvements and more we hope over time.”

That includes tapping into as many different venues where people eat and buy food as possible. For instance, since 1992 Philadelphia has worked with The Food Trust to help corner stores fill their shelves with fresher foods, bring better food to under-served markets, connect schools and farms and require acceptance of food stamps at farmer’s markets. Similarly, on the state level, the RWJF report credits Mississippi and California’s success to adopting nutritional standards in schools by offering healthier food, drink and snack choices as well as increasing physical activity requirements.

What role do you think partnerships will make in encouraging kids and people of all ages to improve their wellness? Have you participated in or created any in your community?

Lance Armstrong: Bemoaning the Fall of a Fitness Legend

Say it isn’t so, my heart cried out in protest, when I absorbed the recent headlines about Lance Armstrong’s decision to stop fighting allegations of doping.  You see, I never really believed the rumors before. It seemed impossible that a man who has inspired millions of people to push past their limits and raised over $300 million to fight cancer could be guilty of those charges.  Then I kept on reading and found the penalties he could receive – the loss of all seven tour de France titles and a lifetime ban on competing – to be equally shocking.

I know Armstrong said he felt the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s process was unfair and that it was time to drop the fight and focus on his family. But here’s the conundrum…how could a man who never gave up in competition or while challenged with cancer at a young age stop trying to clear his name?  I’ve handled a lot of crisis situations for clients over the past 20 years in my “day job” as a strategic communications consultant. And if you’re not guilty, it’s better to keep protesting until you’re blue in the face rather than give up.

Even the most talented people can make bad decisions. Like Elton John, who has no problem slamming Madonna, Bill Joel or any other celeb who has pissed him off in whatever public forum he can muster. Oprah was thought to be invincible in business before she launched her network, which has low ratings and is hemorrhaging cash. The respective decisions of those aforementioned, gifted individuals don’t chip away at their core talents. When it comes to Lance Armstrong though, I expected great sportsmanship to be at his core. Now I’m left wondering if he became so focused on winning that Armstrong forgot how you play the game is even more important.

What are your thoughts on this situation? Do you feel his punishment was too harsh or completely justified? How will this impact the legacy of Lance Armstrong moving forward?

Losing Those Post-Pregnancy Pounds

To borrow a line from Gone with the Wind, I don’t know much about birthing babies. But with numerous blog followers and friends asking for more insight on losing post-pregnancy pounds, I’m taking a step past my self-proclaimed “beloved aunt” comfort zone to address the topic.

Let’s digress for a moment. My favorite part of getting a manicure isn’t the nail treatment itself. I really enjoy digging into the latest issue of People Magazine for red carpet gown photos, heartwarming stories about everyday heroes (you know, in case I find myself in either situation) and making fun of the latest Kardashian coverage. However, one item between its pages never fails to irk me – stories about starlets who lost all of their baby weight in about 6 days and claim it was a breeze. Because after you’ve delivered that bundle of joy, it can be a struggle to lose post pregnancy pounds. Even for those who have never been overweight before.

So I turned to Tamara Grand, PhD, BCRPA Advanced Fitness Leader and Personal Trainer at the terrific FitKnitChick blog for her thoughts. Tamara, herself the mother of three and a perennial “A student,” provided enough great insight to merit its own Q&A session:

Q: Why can it be hard to lose post-pregnancy pounds?

A: Number one, new moms often have very little time or energy to devote to their own care. Sleepless nights make it hard to get back into a regular exercise routine post-delivery. Feeding the baby becomes more important than feeding themselves. Even when women have sufficient help and support to allow them to focus on themselves, many don’t, feeling guilty if they let others care for their baby while they care for themselves. Women need to realize that there’s no place for ‘mommy guilt’ and that they’ll likely become even better mothers when they satisfy their own needs for exercise and healthy eating.

Q: How about new moms who do make time for exercise and mindful eating, but still aren’t seeing the results they seek?

A:  Many women find the last 10 pounds are often difficult to shed despite their best efforts in the gym and the kitchen. Biology is the culprit! Women’s reproduction depends on fat stores. In order to conceive, maintain a pregnancy and lactate, a woman must have an adequate supply of adipose tissue. Hormones secreted during pregnancy and beyond aim to maintain those fat stores for breastfeeding and future reproduction. That doesn’t mean those 10 pounds can’t be lost, it just means that it make take longer than expected and require making additional changes to exercise and diet. Pregnancy can also lead to a variety of muscular weaknesses and injuries that may postpone a woman’s return to regular exercise.

Q. Can practicing healthy habits prior to or during pregnancy make a difference?

A. In my experience as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, women who enter pregnancy at a healthy weight and gain only moderately during gestation have an easier time dropping the baby weight.  Perhaps it’s because they have fewer pounds to lose and have a recent memory of being at a healthy weight. Possibly it’s because it’s easier for them to exercise at an appropriate intensity to generate weight loss than their heavier counterparts. Certainly, women who exercise regularly prior to pregnancy find it easier to slip back into the habit of working out than those who’ve been sedentary for most of their lives.

Q. What advice do you have to help women regain their figure after the baby is born?

A. Make it a priority! Find or take time for yourself. Ditch the ‘mommy guilt’ and recognize that your needs are just as important as your family’s. Realize that you don’t need an hour at the gym in order to get in a workout; 10 minutes of movement, three times a day is a fantastic start. Let dad, grandma or a friend watch the baby while you take a power walk. Exercise not only has the ability to help with weight loss, it’s also a great way to release stress and re-energize.”

“Be patient. Most women find that it takes about a year to return to their pre-pregnancy weight,” concludes Tamara. “Think of fitness and weight loss as a journey. Each day, do a little more than the day before.”

Have you or someone you care about ever struggled to lose post-pregnancy pounds? What ended
up ultimately working…and what backfires would you urge others to avoid?

Three Tips for Successfully Shifting from Weight Loss into Maintenance

You’ve counted calories, exercised diligently, got support from others looking to shed pounds and now vaguely resemble that bikini-clad picture of yourself from Spring Break ’94 posted to the fridge – congratulations! Now the big question arises… after working so hard to lose weight, how do you keep it off for good? Here are three tips to help shift from a weight loss mentality into successful maintenance.

There’s a whole world of difference between the process of losing it and keeping the pounds from boomeranging back like an unwanted houseguest. After all, weight loss has a time-limit while maintenance is a life-long process. Just ask Dr. Holly Wyatt, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado and Associate Director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.

“Strategies that work for weight loss may be different from those that produce maintenance,” notes Dr. Wyatt.  “Losing weight requires a negative energy balance from consuming less calories than you are burning; it’s a short-term process.  Since maintenance is about energy balance at a reduced body weight, those strategies need to be something you can do long-term.”

 

1)      Pump up the exercise

Three super-smart groups of experts, the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, collaborated on the Practical Guide to the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults.  According to that piece, while exercise produces minimal weight loss in the absence of caloric restriction, its greatest benefit is in weight loss maintenance.

I’m going to share a few facts from the National Weight Control Registry so you better get used to seeing their acronym (NWCR) throughout this post.  As the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance, they’ve tracked the habits of over 10,000 “successful losers” who have kept the pounds off for more than a year. They have found that most participants engage in moderate physical activity at least one hour a day, with the greatest number (75%) reporting walking as their exercise of choice.  As Dr. Wyatt says, “participating in high levels of physical activity is the number one attribute in not regaining the weight.”

 

2)      Pay even closer attention to nutrition

What you eat becomes even more important after weight loss. Ideally, the road to shedding pounds is paved with fruits, vegetables, plenty of lean proteins and whole grains. However, many people are so focused on cutting calories that they turn to processed, convenience foods to obtain their goals. But maintaining that newly minted size six, ten or whatever floats your boat is going to take more diligence and healthy choices than ever before. Per the NWCR, the eating habits of successful maintainers include:

  • Low caloric intake, with a low percentage of calories from fat
  • Eat regularly, close to five smaller meals a day
  • Always eat breakfast
  • Prepare most meals at home
  • Rarely eat fast food (sorry Golden Arches)

 

3)      Practice self-monitoring

Keeping tabs on your daily food intake probably helped you lose weight in the first place. In fact, a study released by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle a few weeks ago found that writing down everything you eat or drink in a food journal helped women consistently lose about six pounds more than those who did not.  But don’t stop this helpful practice just because you’ve reached your goal. Between smart phones, new apps, websites and old-fashioned note books, it’s pretty easy to keep on recording what you’re eating and its nutritional value. Sometimes the thought of having to report another fudge brownie is the perfect deterrent to walk away from those extra calories.

At the same time, continue to monitor your size. About 75% of NWCR participants weight themselves more than once per week while other people rely on clothing size, a tape measure, calipers for measuring muscle mass and other techniques. Right now, I’ve got a sexy little black dress hanging in a prominent spot in my closet as an incentive to eat healthy most days and have come to rely on my scale as a source of feedback instead of a back-stabbing frenemy.

Have you ever successfully shifted from weight loss into maintenance? What  practices and habits worked for you or others you might know?