I like to think of losing weight as bringing your weight to a healthy level and then maintaining it. It’s not how much weight you lose, but where you ultimately want your weight to be. To be successful, you must know your final destination. You also need a map of how to get there. Regardless of the weight loss regimen you’ve decided to implement, here are some frame of mind approaches that will help you sustain your weight loss and maintain your target weight.
#1 – Define and Redefine Your Weight Management Goals, and Develop Healthy Routines Along with a Healthy Attitude
Encourage yourself to establish and stick with a weight-management routine. After I lost 40 pounds, I went on a cruise. Although all of my friends and relatives warned me that I’d better be prepared to gain 10 to 12 pounds during the trip, I focused on keeping my weight the same…and I did! How? I stuck to as much of my routine as much as possible. I drank green tea. I ate smaller portions at mealtimes and healthy snacks, like fruit between meals. I also maintained most of my exercise routine and quickly discovered that one lap around the main deck was equal to a quarter mile on land. I began each day in the ship’s well-equipped gym and worked with fitness balls and work-out machines, plus walking and jogging afterwards.
#2 – Affirmations/Self-Reflections
I find it helpful to write short affirmations in bold marker on large Post-It notes and then to stick them in places where I’ll see them every day, like on the bathroom mirror, on kitchen cupboard doors, and near my computer. These positive messages can be as simple as your target weight. Yours could be something like “”200 pounds-you can do it!”.
When I get discouraged with slow progress, I always ask myself, “What got me this far?” Answering this question helps me to refocus my energies in a positive manner. What has worked so far? Maybe I’m forgetting some key parts of my routine. Once I realize what’s gotten me off my routine, it’s much easier for me to get back on track. Remember that growth is incremental. Even the longest journey begins with one small step.
#3 – Learn to Control Cravings, Eat Healthier, and Nurture Positive Attitudes toward Weight Management
As you mentally prepare yourself to lose weight, send positive messages to your brain. This positive “self-talk” may help you stop eating unhealthy, calorie-laden foods. For me, the true test came when I was able to resist unhealthy foods while I was in the supermarket. I might pick up a container of rich, gourmet ice cream, but I could then put it back in the freezer and walk away. During such moments, I sometimes find using imagery is especially useful in getting me back on track. I’ll picture a bright red stop sign right in front of the rich, gourmet ice cream. This helps me focus on making the right choices. There’s something enormously empowering about being able to look temptation in the eye and resist it.
#4 – Create a Personal Mantra
While I am walking or jogging, I like to repeat a positive chant in my head. As corny as it may seem, I believe this practice has helped me stay focused on my weight goal during the most difficult moments. Some examples are the following:
One, two, three, four,
I’m gonna lose some weight some more,
Five, six, seven, eight,
It sure will be great to lose that weight!
200, 200, that’s where I want to be,
200, 200, that’s the number calling me.
I set these rhythmic chants to a tune and play them over and over in my head.
This positive imagery helps me concentrate on my weight-management goals. You can remind yourself of where you’ve been…and where you want to be. I’ve said to myself, “I’ve been way too heavy before, and I’m not going there again!” Then I picture myself thin. In fact, I saved one pair of my size-44 pants to remind me of the progress I’ve made. When I feel discouraged, I put these pants on and watch them fall down around my ankles. This is a vivid image of my new, healthier, fitter self. Except for maybe one pair of big pants, however, I recommend that you get rid of all of your big, heavy clothing. I donated the rest of my oversized wardrobe to the Salvation Army and clothing drives. You have to be willing to let go of your old self. If you’re thinking about keeping your former clothes in storage “just in case,” then you’re making a self-fulfilling prophecy. You probably will regain that weight.
I also use what I call a “portable motivator.” This is a wallet-size photo of me at my heaviest 277 pounds. If my resolve starts to slip, I pull out the photo to remind myself of how I used to look, how tired I always felt, how unhappy I was. If you don’t want a “fat photo,” you might want to carry a photo of yourself at your lightest weight and most physically fit. Use the portable motivator that works best for you.
Weight management is not easy. Every single day presents challenges. Those ever-present culinary temptations that lurk in holiday buffets and at parties need to be recognized and met head-on. Maintaining your target weight is ultimately learning to balance exercise and food intake. By sticking to a routine or regimen that works for you, and monitoring how you’re doing, you can carefully control your weight. Then your weight will no longer control you!
This article is an adapted excerpt from the book, How I Won the Battle of the Bulge; Weight Loss through Food Synergy, published by Bookstand Publishing, 2010. Ron Theel, Ed.D. holds the copyright to this book and has granted permission for use of the above material.