First of all, if you've slimmed down to your target weight, congratulations! Dieting is tough, and if you've struggled to get there, it would be a real shame to see the kilos creep back on again. Most of us who fight against overweight are familiar with the yoyo effect: we diet and lose weight, but the moment we stop dieting, the pounds pile back on again. So how can you break out of this cycle?
The golden rule is don't let your guard down just because you've reached your target. What happens next is every bit as important as the diet itself.
- Change your habits
If you want the weight to stay away, you can't simply go back to your old eating habits. You need to make radical changes and adopt a sensible eating plan, low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates.
- Healthy eating
Maintaining weight is a long-distance race, not a hundred-metres sprint. Weight that comes off on a crash diet is liable to go back on even more quickly. But that doesn't mean you should spend your whole life on a diet; if you do, your body will learn to compensate and activate its defence mechanisms, you'll find you have health problems, and the dieting won't be as effective. Try and follow a normal, healthy eating programme, and don't beat yourself up if you stray a little occasionally.
- Not just food
Of course, food is only one side of the weight loss coin. The other is exercise. But going to the gym isn't the only way to stay in shape and it doesn't suit everyone. Look around and experiment until you find the type of physical activity that suits your lifestyle and preferences. Try and find something that you can fit into your daily routine, whether it's dancing, taking the dog for a walk, using the stairs rather than the lift, getting off the bus a stop or two early... The important thing is to move your body and burn those calories.
- Find a support network
Just about everything is easier when it's done with the encouragement of other people. Ask your family, friends, partner or children to help you stick to your resolutions. You'll find that the right word at that low-ebb point can really help you persevere.
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