Huh? What kind of thing is that coming from a nutritionist who has helped thousands of people lose weight and many of them to maintain what they lost? Is that even a grammatically correct sentence?
I’m not sure but it’s certainly accurate.
According to a Livestrong article, 95 percent of people who lose weight in a drastic way, gain the weight back plus some. While that’s not surprising when you hear of an extreme diet tactic, what about gaining weight even after a healthy and seemingly sustainable diet?
Yes, that can happen too.
If I had to sum up the main reason people gain weight, I would say it’s because they think their work is over once the scale shows the number they were waiting to see, or the simchah is over, or the dress fits, or they got enough compliments, etc.
No one gets to keep anything in life (or at least not keep it going well) without constant effort. Constant means constant. Not occasional, not periodical, mood-depending or convenience-depending effort, but constant.
I know this is a hard pill to swallow (pun intended) since most people tend to think that the work is over once the weight loss is over. So, let me explain it in my favorite way, through analogies:
If you think of anything in your life, your marriage, your home, your sheitel, your business, etc., none of those stay in amazing condition or even in good condition without effort.
Would you blame your sheitel macher if the curls on your sheitel went limp even though you didn’t follow her instructions and put them in rollers after every wear?
Remember how in kallah classes you were taught how important it is for husband and wife to make a set time every week to spend together? It seemed silly then, but then came real life and kids and you realized how right she was.
What about a job or a career? Don’t you need to keep learning new things? Attend workshops? Connect with your mentor? Even my client who is very respected in the chinuch world tells me that she has a mentor whom she consults with regularly.
Even those who have had weight loss surgery can and do gain weight. Why? Because keeping it off requires constant effort.
Most of our clients that keep the weight off do so because we still have a relationship.
They no longer need to come in weekly or text questions constantly, but they need to maintain a connection with us in some form.
Your nutritionist is like your mentor or life coach or manicurist. She is there to help you upkeep the work you have done, hold you accountable, teach you new information, and help you get back on track when you’re off.
Social or familial pressure can also affect your weight maintenance. Often friends or family tell you that you shouldn’t be losing more weight or they pressure you to join them and eat with them.
Gaining back the weight you lost can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. All those comments telling you you’ll gain back the weight or you yourself thinking that, can lead you to subconsciously sabotage your hard work.
Just like white walls can’t stay perfectly white when you have small kids and a facial can’t make you look 30 years younger, extreme plans are NOT maintainable. What IS?
A sustainable plan is one that allows you to eat all foods in moderation, and also teaches you skills for healthy eating versus just dictating to you what to eat. You need to understand the how and when and why of eating so you can make good food choices on your own. You also need to pre-empt the scenarios that can come up which will challenge your healthy eating plan such as life events, Yomim Tovim, simchos, etc., and come up with a plan to combat the temptations you’ll face on those occasions. Because no two plans are alike, we figure out what works for each person.
What DOES maintenance look like?
Maintenance doesn’t mean you’re always the same weight. Numbers can and do fluctuate, especially for women. What you want to look for is a two-pound range. As long as once a week or so (not more often) when you weigh yourself, you’re within a two-pound range of your ideal weight, then you’re still maintaining your weight-loss goals. We usually add to the plan either a certain number of extra calories or specific foods the person wants. We then monitor it to see how that’s going. As an extreme example, I once had a male client that no matter how much extra I added, he kept losing! I even had him do blood work to see if something was wrong. We finally found the magic number of extra calories he needed so that he wasn’t losing or gaining. I had a different male client who had no issue staying the same on track on weekdays but for Shabbos, we added a lot more. It’s a very individual process and is ever-changing and must be monitored.
Here are some practical tools to help you maintain your ideal weight:
Track what you eat:
It’s the number one behavior cited as keeping people on track for the long term. I personally have been tracking what I eat for the last 14 years.
Life is busy, so failing to plan is planning to fail, as they say. Planning can mean preparing ahead or just writing out what you’re planning to eat.
Don’t look at healthy eating as a diet or deprivation, look at it as your lifestyle. Touch base frequently with your nutritionist, your diet group, or your weight-loss partner. This is for accountability and inspiration/chizuk.
Remember that weight loss technically isn’t complicated. It’s logical and fixable. Unless you have a medical condition (and even then you can be helped), no weight gain happens “just because.” Out of all the possible issues or challenges there can be in life, this one is the most in your control to fix.
So is keeping weight off hard? Yes.
Is it realistic and doable? Also yes!
The next time you hear of people gaining their weight back or predicting YOU will remember that it doesn’t have to be that way. By having a realistic plan to stick to, maintaining accountability, and implementing the healthy eating skills you learned, you CAN do it!