Weight Maintenance: 5 + 1 Ways to Fail

It is the easiest thing in the world to fail at weight maintenance after having put in the hard yards to lose excess body weight. For most of us, dieting is a challenge to be overcome, a mountain to be climbed, a race to be won. But what happens after we clinch the prize and reach our target weight? In all too many cases, we take our eye off the ball and we’re soon on the back-foot again. This article is about the top 5 ways (plus 1 bonus way) to fumble at the finish line and fail to maintain a healthy weight.

So, you want to fail at weight maintenance? Here’s how:

One: Don’t Count Calories

Do Not Count Calories

After you reach your target weight, it is Happy Days! Phew, all that effort has paid off! All the food logging, calorie-counting, energy in/energy out calculations, all worth it! You look, feel, sleep, laugh, and move better. Fantastic. Celebration dinner tonight, anyone? Breakfast treat tomorrow, extra bacon and avocado. Toss the food diary out! You do not need to think about calorie counts, after all, you have a healthy weight and now you are one of the healthy people! Staying healthy is a breeze, keeping the same weight is a cinch, eating well is an effortless walk in the Calorie-free park.

Two: Always too Busy for Weight Maintenance

Too busy for weight maintenance

Never let a minute go to waste, always be doing something. Open your eyes in the morning and swipe your phone to check emails and headlines and messages and status updates. Go to work and work hard and eat whatever happens to be handy whenever you are hungry. Work late if you must and rush around in traffic for the kids or the site visit or that critical client meeting. No time to stop for lunch so just pull into the Drive-Thu and pick up an Extra Value Extra Cheese Extra Satisfying burger meal Extra Fast, or your money back. Finally, go home for some exhausted rest on a couch in front of a screen with some convenient moreish finger foods.

Three: Skip a Meal or Two

Skip a Meal

Wow, maybe I’m starting to gain some of the old weight back? These jeans seem a bit tighter. I’d better get back into calorie counting mode. But wait, I really don’t want to do that, its way too much effort and I’m not nearly as overweight as I used to be. I know, I will try this intermittent fasting thing everyone is talking about. Just skip a meal or two, that should do it. No, I don’t need a plan and there is no need to spend a few hours researching the science behind the idea, just skip breakfast and maybe lunch. True, I might be super-hungry by 3 o’clock but I’m sure that I will be strong enough to just eat a normal dinner and maybe a small snack. I won’t just make up for the missed meal with extra food later and my body’s metabolism will be fine.

Four: Forget where you put the Bathroom Scale

Do not weigh yourself

That scale was an unblinking, dispassionate tyrant for so long. When you were actively doing your weight-loss thing, the scale was the ultimate Judge. Every weigh-in, it dutifully racked up the numbers and displayed them for your fearful, then hopeful, then joyful eyes. It was along for the ride that time when you threw caution to the wind and ate big bowls of bread pudding every day over the long weekend. It stood as a silent witness to your Heroic Stretch when you ignored the sidelong glances in the work lunchroom to eat celery sticks and boiled chicken breast. That bathroom scale knows too much. It has an intimate association with who you were before your Target Weight became a reality. Lose it already. Let it gather a fine layer of dust where it lurks in wait under the vanity cabinet.

Five: Bask in the Glow of a Health Halo

Health Halo Food

You have done it! Everyone says you look great and you happen to agree with them. People ask you how you did it and you tell them all about how you made the switch to Eat Healthy, Eat Clean, and Eat Whole. No more regular doughnuts for you, now that you are a bona-fide Healthy Person you are going to eat nothing but Artisanal Organic Doughnuts. Forget about white bread ham sandwiches, you have swapped those for Chia Seed Loaf King Island Wild Boar Toasties with Smashed Avocado. Regular boring breakfast cereal is replaced by a Granola Strained Greek Yoghurt Bowl washed down with an Acai and Vanilla Bean Banana Smoothie. What’s that you say about their calorie count? I can’t hear over the crunch of my Crispy Manuka Almond Coconut Cluster Bliss Balls.

Bonus: Return to Eden

Return to Garden of Eden fail weight maintenance

Remember how good the inside of your house was before you started actively trying to lose weight? It was like the being in the Garden of Eden, a place of plenty, you could eat whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it. You used to load up on your favourite treats when you went to the supermarket, to ensure that you had cookies in the cupboard, custard in the fridge, and chocolate in the drawer. You could walk into any room, reach out your hand, and touch a treat. Bowls of many jellybeans on the desk, mugs of frothy hot chocolate on the counter, platterfuls of dainty little sausage rolls nestled on the coffee table. Well, now that you’ve hit your mark and achieved a Healthy Weight, you can Return to the Garden!

How to Not Fail at Weight Maintenance

So, you don’t want to fail at weight maintenance? You want to maintain the healthy weight you have worked so hard to achieve? Here’s the top 5 + 1 ways to not fail at weight maintenance (hint: do the opposite of what is written above):

  1. Be aware of your daily calorie intake. A good calorie calculator will show you your maintenance calories which you should try not to exceed on a daily basis.
  2. Take time out in your day to sit back and reflect on how things are going. Don’t always be in a rush. When you are relaxed and living in the moment you are less likely to consciously overeat.
  3. Do not skip meals unless you are following a carefully considered and well-researched fasting plan. Skipping meals erratically usually leads to caloric overcompensation and detrimental hormonal fluctuations.
  4. Weigh yourself regularly to monitor your weight and receive early warning of unwanted changes.
  5. Don’t fall for the false security of health foods. The extra calories in healthy foods will be converted into fat just as easily as the extra calories in unhealthy foods.
  6. Keep your good habits even after you come off your weight-loss plan. The bad habits which led to excess weight-gain in the first place will just do it again if you follow them again.

Weight Maintenance Conclusion

Succeeding at weight maintenance ultimately comes down to having the right mindset and keeping good HABITS. The key is to think about your ideal weight not as a goal, but as a state of being instead. Sure, it is okay to gamify the target initially but thereafter it is not something to hit and miss, instead it is simply the “real” you. Maintaining the “real you” takes effort, one meal at a time.

You can read our two-part post on habits and how to change them here and here.