If you’re currently at a healthy weight, you’re already one step ahead of the game. To stay at a healthy weight, it’s worth doing a little planning now.
Or maybe you are overweight but aren’t ready to lose weight yet. If this is the case, preventing further weight gain is a worthy goal.
As people age, their body composition gradually shifts — the proportion of muscle decreases and the proportion of fat increases. This shift slows their metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. In addition, some people become less physically active as they get older, increasing the risk of weight gain.
The good news is that weight gain can be prevented by choosing a lifestyle that includes good eating habits and daily physical activity. By avoiding weight gain, you avoid higher risks of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and some forms of cancer.
Choosing an Eating Plan to Prevent Weight Gain
So, how do you choose a healthful eating plan that will enable you to maintain your current weight? The goal is to make a habit out of choosing foods that are nutritious and healthful.
If your goal is to prevent weight gain, then you’ll want to choose foods that supply you with the appropriate number of calories to maintain your weight. This number varies from person to person. It depends on many factors, including your height, weight, age, sex, and activity level. For more, see Balancing Calories.
In addition to a healthy eating plan, an active lifestyle will help you maintain your weight. By choosing to add more physical activity to your day, you’ll increase the amount of calories your body burns. This makes it more likely you’ll maintain your weight.
Although physical activity is an integral part of weight management, it’s also a vital part of health in general. Regular physical activity can reduce your risk for many chronic diseases and it can help keep your body healthy and strong. To learn more about how physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, visit Physical Activity for Healthy Weight.
You may also find it helpful to weigh yourself on a regular basis. If you see a few pounds creeping on, take the time to examine your lifestyle. With these strategies, you make it more likely that you’ll catch small weight gains more quickly.
- Has my activity level changed?
- Am I eating more than usual? You may find it helpful to keep a food diary for a few days to make you more aware of your eating choices.
If you ask yourself these questions and find that you’ve decreased your activity level or made some poor food choices, make a commitment to yourself to get back on track. Set some reasonable goals to help you get more physical activity and make better food choices.
Keeping It Off
If you’ve recently lost excess weight, congratulations! It’s an accomplishment that will likely benefit your health now and in the future. Now that you’ve lost weight, let’s talk about some ways to maintain that success.
The following tips are some of the common characteristics among people who have successfully lost weight and maintained that loss over time.
Watch Your Diet
- Follow a healthy and realistic eating pattern. You have embarked on a healthier lifestyle, now the challenge is maintaining the positive eating habits you’ve developed along the way. In studies of people who have lost weight and kept it off for at least a year, most continued to eat a diet lower in calories as compared to their pre-weight loss diet.
- Keep your eating patterns consistent. Follow a healthy eating pattern regardless of changes in your routine. Plan ahead for weekends, vacations, and special occasions. By making a plan, it is more likely you’ll have healthy foods on hand for when your routine changes.
- Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast is a common trait among people who have lost weight and kept it off. Eating a healthful breakfast may help you avoid getting “over-hungry” and then overeating later in the day.
- Get daily physical activity. People who have lost weight and kept it off typically engage in 60—90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week while not exceeding calorie needs. This doesn’t necessarily mean 60—90 minutes at one time. It might mean 20—30 minutes of physical activity three times a day. For example, a brisk walk in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening. Some people may need to talk to their healthcare provider before participating in this level of physical activity.
Stay on Course
- Monitor your diet and activity. Keeping a food and physical activity journal can help you track your progress and spot trends. For example, you might notice that your weight creeps up during periods when you have a lot of business travel or when you have to work overtime. Recognizing this tendency can be a signal to try different behaviors, such as packing your own healthful food for the plane and making time to use your hotel’s exercise facility when you are traveling. Or if working overtime, maybe you can use your breaks for quick walks around the building.
- Monitor your weight. Check your weight regularly. When managing your weight loss, it’s a good idea to keep track of your weight so you can plan accordingly and adjust your diet and exercise plan as necessary. If you have gained a few pounds, get back on track quickly.
- Get support from family, friends, and others. People who have successfully lost weight and kept it off often rely on support from others to help them stay on course and get over any “bumps.” Sometimes having a friend or partner who is also losing weight or maintaining a weight loss can help you stay motivated.
A good beginning makes a good end.