One of the most difficult things to do when you lose weight is maintaining that weight lost. You are looking forward to finally going back to your regular diet but Wait! wasn’t that the reason you were overweight to begin with. You want to enjoy eating again but you don’t want to regain the weight you worked so hard to get off. Only half of the battle is won when you reach your target weight. You look good and feel good but now you switch from a short term activity to a long term one. In some ways it is more difficult to maintain your ideal weight over a long period of time then it was to initially lose weight because of the time factor. I didn’t want to go off my diet after losing 45 pounds because I didn’t want to regain the weight I had worked so hard to get off. I actually lost an additional 10 pounds then I needed to because I was reluctant to stop dieting.
What got me back to my ideal weight and maintaining that weight was the realization that I could enjoy eating and not gain weight. The whole key to maintain an ideal weight and enjoying life is substitution rather than sacrifice. You need to make long term lifestyle changes and be OK with those changes. There is nothing more difficult than trying to maintain a diet that consists of foods that you aren’t thrilled with. Eventually, you will just get tired of sacrificing which is why you need to focus on foods that are healthy and that you enjoy. There are plenty of foods that are healthy and will maintain your weight loss including eggs, low fat yogurt, grilled meat or seafood, beans, most vegetables, nuts, and dark chocolate to just mention a few. In a lot of cases, what makes a certain food unhealthy is the way it is prepared so by making a few adjustments you can enjoy the foods you like and still maintain your weight loss. Instead of enjoying fried chicken try grilled chicken or try grilled vegetables rather than soaking them in butter.
I also can not stress enough how important it is to evaluate what you eat and why you eat. There are lots of reasons people eat with hunger being only one reason. If you eat ice cream every time you get depressed try eating something you like that is healthy or maybe go for a walk. If you have a pet take them for a walk. My dog just lives to go for a walk and I can’t think of anything that makes me feel better than playing with her so I concentrate on that activity rather than seeing how much I can eat.
I also have tried to substitute all the things I enjoyed with more healthy alternatives. I substitute whole grain bread for white bread, Canadian bacon for American bacon, nuts for chips, wine for beer etc. It is OK to go off your diet occasionally as long as you compensate for it and you keep close tabs on what your weight is so you don’t gain back most of the weight you have lost. When I first switched from losing weight to maintaining the weight loss I gained weight every time I traveled and then I would resort to an extremely restricted diet for a week after I returned to get back to my ideal weight. It worked but after doing this a few times it got old and I really evaluated everything I ate when I was on travel. Is it really worth it to have desert every time I go out to eat when I know what I will have to go through when I get back? You begin to make choices. You learn pretty quickly which foods are worth the sacrifice you will have to make by eating them. I now no longer have those delicious rolls they serve at restaurants before they serve the meal because it just isn’t worth the weight gain.