"How do I maintain my weight loss once I go off your program?" That is THE question we get asked every day in our clinic, by all our clients. Let me use my favorite format of top 3 things to remember:
1. Know thy metabolism - all theoretical things aside, you need to know what your average resting metabolic rate is (RMR) - i.e. how many calories your body burns on a daily basis at rest - to know where your target calorie intake should be. Knowing this number alleviates any sense of ambiguity and anxiety over the insidious and uncontrollable nature of gradual weight regain. To get an idea of this value go to http://www.shapeup.org/interactive/rmr1.php and plug in your height, weight and sex. By adding the amount of calories burned via physical activity to the RMR, you can easily decide how many calories you can safely consume daily without gaining weight.
2. Know thy cues - it is important to recognize all possible internal and external cues stimulating eating behavior. You need to know which ones are particularly troublesome for you, because that's where your locus of control will reside!
For example, one of the instances where i start seeking food is boredom. Whenever I have down time, my hand unconsciously reaches for that bag of popcorn or a cereal box. Am I hungry? You know the answer (1 hour after lunch!). Knowing this has taught me to keep more fresh fruits and veggies around and less of the stuff i can't resist; to arrange my leisure time to be spent in settings without easy access to food, such as libraries, parks and gyms.
3. Know thy muscle - Yes, get to know, love and "grow" your skeletal muscles. Consistent moderate resistance training will result in increased lean muscle mass, which burns more energy per unit time. In such a way, you essentially, increase the amount of calories burned per day even while at rest. This does not require a very strenuous work out routine putting your joints at rest - these simple exercises will do: push-ups while standing on your knees, gentle squatting (even without any weight), walking up hill for 15-30 min. Do 3-5 sets of 12-18 repetitions for each exercise 3-4 times per week. Engage in aerobic activity for 15-30 min/day 5-6 times a week. Be honest with yourself - if this activity is not "scheduled" or otherwise not incorporated into your daily routine, it is not going to happen! After a few weeks, you will be glad you did this and will not want to miss a session as it will make you feel more energetic, happier and relaxed.