Maintenance and Relapse Prevention
Sometimes, the action of losing the weight or making the changes is the ‘easier’ part, but it is often difficult to maintain the weight loss and motivation in the long-term. And this is they key to health improvements. Remember back to ‘The cycle of change’ and you will recall that maintenance follows action, but that relapse is also quite a normal part of the cycle. We all have ‘good and bad’ days, but the key is to avoid ‘all or nothing’ thinking and continue with your healthy ways the next day. Remember it takes an extra 500kcal per day for a whole week to intake to gain a pound/0.5kg in weight.
It is all too easy to slip back into old habits and so the important factor is being aware if this starts to happen. Self-monitoring will help you to identify this, for example keeping a food or activity diary for a few days. When people repeatedly lose weight and then regain it, they tend to end up heavier than they started. Hence you should always see lifestyle changes as for the long-term and avoid quick fixes.
The following have proven to be key factors in those who are successful at maintaining weight loss:
- Eating breakfast everyday
- Checking your weight once a week
- Maintaining a low fat diet
- Regular physical activity
- Developing, strengthening and maintaining coping skills, continuing goal setting and learning to problem solve.
If you find that you are struggling to maintain your lifestyle changes think about or write down all the benefits that you have already gained and the benefits that you stand to gain from keeping up all the positive changes you have made. Also, think back to what was different when you were consistently losing weight-have your portion sizes slipped, or have you been eating out more often, or perhaps you are not as active?
Weight loss and dietary changes have to be long-term changes. Learn from any triggers to overeating, so that next time you are able to make healthier choices, but most of enjoy your food and activity, and everything in moderation!