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Don’t diet... change your lifestyleRosemary Writes - Oct/Nov 2005

Losing weight is relatively straightforward but keeping it off is a greater challenge. Here’s how to do it

I have to admit I get frustrated when I read negative press about “diets failing” when people regain their lost weight. It gives the impression that you might as well not bother to try “because it will all go back anyway”.

Overweight is not a curable disease – but it is a manageable one. And, providing your method of dieting to achieve your weight loss incorporates lifestyle change and is not just a quick fix, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t maintain your weight loss long term.

When I first wrote my Hip & Thigh Diet, I ran a trial with around 100 dieters who followed the diet plan for eight weeks. We all know how successful that diet was and, because in the early Nineties the sceptics were still very vocal about weight maintenance, I contacted my trial team to see how they were faring five years on. I found that 71 per cent had kept within 25 per cent of the weight loss they achieved in 1986 when the trial was run.

Many had gone on to lose more weight and were very happy with their new bodies. Some of them send me Christmas cards to this day to tell me they’re still at their goal weight! The most common comment the team made was that low-fat eating was now a way of life. “It’s not a ‘diet’ – it’s just a way of eating.”

There have been features in newspapers and even television programmes about Slimmers of the Year who have regained their weight. And yes, some of them do – though it rarely happens to our winners and finalists. The key is that what we teach really is a lifestyle change – eating less fat all the time and taking regular exercise.

Without such permanent changes to our daily lives, we will find weight maintenance hard. So, if we do go back to the eating habits that made us overweight in the first place, and to being totally inactive, we WILL regain our weight. The diets don’t fail. It is OUR personal decision whether or not to stray from our new healthy eating habits that determines our long-term success.

In this issue of the magazine, we thought you’d be interested to see how some of our Slimmer of the Year finalists have managed to maintain their massive weight losses. Losing their weight, eating low fat and being very active have made all the difference to these inspirational people’s lives. They have CHOSEN to make these lifestyle changes and let’s hope they continue to do so. Every one of them has fallen in love with exercise.

It’s now a big part of their lives and it was incredible to see, when we all  met again at our photo session, how their figures had toned up even more and the extra inches that had melted away. They just looked better and better. So I hope that, if you are embarking on a weight-loss campaign and have maybe achieved enormous success already, you will see yourself beyond your goal weight.

As time passes, you will tone up even more, your energy levels will keep growing and your muscles will become stronger. Losing your weight and coming to terms with the new slim you takes time but the rewards are wonderful. Please don’t waste this opportunity.

Here are some tips to help you maintain your weight for ever!

  1. Weigh yourself no more than once a week. Try to relax about your weight and try to gauge more by the fit of your clothes how you are maintaining.
  2. Apart from your largest garment, which you should save as a reminder, discard all your old “big” clothes. You will enjoy buying new, smaller ones and you don’t want to have “big” clothes available should the new ones become a little tight. It makes it just too easy to slip into bad habits.
  3. Still eat low-fat foods (max 5% fat) as a matter of course but feel free to eat the occasional treat of a cream cake or your favourite chocolate. Just don’t do it every day or even every week. See these occasions as a real treat. When I look at chocolate, I tell myself that if I eat it, it will make me fat so I don’t eat it (well, not often anyway!).
    I don’t say to myself, “Ooh, I’d love to eat that chocolate but I mustn’t.” If I did, I would be feeling deprived. Instead, I make a positive statement that I want to be slim rather than eat the chocolate. It really is true that nothing tastes as good as being slim feels!
  4. Avoid eating anything other than fruit between meals when you have reached your goal. Snacking on high fat crisps or biscuits will cause a load of damage to your waistline and will just create a habit that you will need to break if you want to stay slim. Just don’t start the habit.
  5. Keep active. This really is the key to keeping your weight at bay and keeping your figure in great shape. Remember, walking one mile will burn around 100 calories and will take 20 minutes. If you can keep active for 30 minutes on five days a week and also do some toning exercises to keep your muscles strong and in good shape, you will almost certainly stay slim. Exercise needs to become part of your lifestyle, for you and the rest of your family.
  6. Still cook the low-fat way and avoid adding oil or butter to your food. You just don’t need it.
  7. Remember to eat oily fish at least once a week to stay heart-healthy and that other types of fish are a really good form of protein.
  8. Drink alcohol in moderation. The calories from alcohol do count and if you have too much too often, then you will find weight maintenance difficult. The problem with drink is that it weakens your will-power and increases your appetite so it causes a double-whammy!
  9. Be accountable to someone to help keep your weight in check. One way is to keep going to your class. Or maybe you have a partner or even a close friend who is very supportive of your weight-loss success. Use your classmates, partner or friend to help you stay on the straight and narrow. Only select someone who is positive and encouraging. Work as a team and maybe exercise together to make progress more enjoyable.
  10. Keep taking your photograph so you can see how slim you really are now. Lots of slimmers who lose loads of weight find it difficult to see themselves as slim and continue to venture over to the outsize departments in fashion stores. Learn to accept the new slim you and really enjoy it.
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