Congratulations! Mission accomplished. You’ve achieved your weight loss goal, which is no easy feat. You have officially graduated to a new level of health and the rules of weight maintenance are a little different.
The bad news—the majority of people who lose a large volume of weight regain it two to three years later. One of the reasons for this disappointing statistic is that by decreasing the number of calories consumed to lose the weight, there is also a resulting decrease in the rate they burn calories. As a result, it can be somewhat more challenging to lose weight over a period of months and makes it easier to regain weight after a more normal diet is resumed. For these reasons, extremely low calorie diets and rapid weight loss are rarely recommended by health care professionals. Instead, weight loss in the range of 1/2 to 2 pounds per week is ideal.
Keeping extra weight off takes effort and commitment, just like losing weight. Weight loss goals are achieved by a combination of changes in diet, eating habits, and exercise. Some weight loss strategies that also play an important role in maintenance are participating in support programs, physical activity, and healthy dieting. Personal Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance Support programs used effectively during weight loss can also be valuable during successful weight maintenance. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 55 percent—more than half–of registry participants used some type of support program to achieve their weight loss. Physical activity also plays a vital role in maintaining weight loss. Studies show that even less vigorous exercise, such as walking and using stairs, can make an impact. Ideally, fitness activities that burn up to 1,500 to 2,000 calories per week are recommended for optimal weight maintenance. Overall, adults should try to get at least 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous level physical activity at least 3 to 4 times per week.
Of course, nutrition will continue to play a key role in keeping the scale from moving in the wrong direction. Ninety-four percent of registrants in the National Weight Control Registry boosted physical activity, partnered with following a protein-dense healthy diet. I encourage patients who have achieved their weight loss goals to meet with a nutritionist to determine a nutrition plan that will compliment their new weight and lifestyle, while keeping in mind how frequently they exercise. The more you work-out, the more calories you can enjoy!
Finally, don’t allow former bad eating habits to creep back into your life. I’ll be honest—they are going to try more than once to crash your weight loss success party. Be on guard, especially when times are tough and stressful. A temporary return to old habits once in a while is unavoidable—no one is perfect. Identifying stressors, such as a bad mood and interpersonal challenges, can help you put your protective shields up to prevent emotional eating and negative behavior.
Reaching a healthy body mass index (BMI) can promote limitless health benefits for you today, tomorrow and years down the road: increased energy, better opportunities in the work force, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, diabetes remission, lower blood pressure, less bone and joint stress, and less work for the heart. While you are enjoying the fruits of all your hard work, the real benefits await you down the road of life. Make sure you preserve your weight loss victory for many years to come.
Ayotunde Adeyeri, M.D., FASMBS, is a board certified and fellowship trained laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgeon and medical director of the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center. The Institute is accredited by the MBSAQIP as a Comprehensive Bariatric Center and provides individualized medical and surgical solutions and support for individuals seeking weight loss, including nutrition and lifestyle counseling. For more information or to attend a free bariatric surgery seminar, call 855-TIME-4-ME.
With locations in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, New Jersey, Raritan Bay Medical Center delivers critical world-class healthcare services care to Monmouth and Middlesex County residents. As providers of first-class healthcare in the areas of stroke, cardiology, cancer, physical rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, pediatric medicine, Raritan Bay Medical Center continues to stay on the forefront of medicine.
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