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Staying slim is a fine balancing act

Losing your excess weight is exciting and rewarding, but keeping the weight off can be even more of a challenge.

If you reduce your calorie intake and increase your activity levels, you lose weight. You get on the scales at the end of each week and see the results right in front of you. You measure yourself and find that some more inches have disappeared. If you go to a class, your weight-loss achievement is recognised by a round of applause and you feel all your efforts have been worthwhile. But what happens when you have reached your goal weight and you just want to stay there? How do you swing the balance so that you don’t lose any more weight but you don’t gain any either?

Healthy habits

Hopefully, during your weight-loss journey you will have made some permanent lifestyle changes. Perhaps your taste buds have changed and you now find the taste of fatty food abhorrent. Maybe the habit of eating chocolate mid-morning is long gone and fresh fruit is now a regular part of your diet. Take a moment to realise the positive changes you have made and which have been a major contributor to your success so far.

If you can keep up these healthier habits in the long term you will greatly enhance your chances of maintaining your new, slimmer figure. But if you are tempted to fall back into your old habits, just remember that those were the habits that caused you to become overweight in the first place – so don’t even start to go back there!

Here are my top 10 tips to help you STAY slim:

  1. Keep eating low-fat foods – with a maximum of 5 per cent fat – as a matter of course, and only eat higher-fat foods very occasionally.
  2. Limit snacks between meals to fruit. It provides important nutrients and aids good health.
  3. Continue cooking without adding fat. You really don’t need it and you will be saving yourself unnecessary calories and fat.
  4. Stay active! Don’t let your new activity habits fall by the wayside. Work out at your class and/or to a DVD two or three times a week, walk the dog further and faster, do the gardening and housework with greater vigour and play physical games with the children. You are now in much better physical shape, with increased fitness levels – so keep it up and enjoy the feeling!
  5. Only weigh yourself once a week – ideally at a class. Because we teach exercise at our classes, there is a real incentive to continue attending. I recently did some research to analyse the long-term success of dieters who have appeared in this magazine. The vast majority had managed to maintain a healthy weight, but those who had continued to attend classes were much more successful at weight maintenance than those who had left to go it alone. The camaraderie and support, as well as the weigh-in and exercise, played an important part in keeping them on track.
  6. You don’t have to weigh out every portion of food or count every calorie. In achieving your goal weight, you will have got used to weighing foods and learned about portion control. Just continue with the same basic principles and you won’t go far wrong.
  7. So that you don’t continue to lose weight when you don’t need to, try having some extra fruit or an extra yogurt at mealtimes, or increasing your rice or pasta portion. Have occasional treats without going mad and enjoy the the odd meal out without feeling guilty. Just be sensible about what you choose.
  8. Wear a pedometer to check your daily steps. It encourages greater activity and gives you a good idea of how active you’ve been. If you haven’t done many steps one day, don’t overindulge on the food front. If, on the other hand, you have had a very energetic day and achieved 20,000 steps, enjoy a treat without worrying about it. Think about the balance of energy-out (activity) and energy-in (food). This is how I stay slim.
  9. Use your clothes as your weight status guide. When your favourite pair of jeans becomes a bit tight, or your skirt won’t button up, it’s time to take action. Whatever you do, don’t panic. Just go easy on the portion sizes, cut out the treats for a few days, and you’ll soon drop back to your lower weight.
  10. Stay in touch with your class. At those times when you don’t feel like attending, make sure you do go. That’s when you are at most risk of seriously going off track, so being in a positive group atmosphere is inspiring. And if you’ve gained quite a chunk of weight, perhaps while on holiday, don’t try to lose it on your own first before going back to class. It is much better to go back immediately, face the scales and get on with shedding those excesses before they get out of hand.

Weight Concern is a national charity trying to find out more about what works and what doesn’t for dieters. They would love to hear from you. To become part of their BIG PANEL, just log on to www.weightconcern.co.uk and click on Research.

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