You are probably all too familiar with the drill – you lose weight and feel good but when life throws you a curveball, you stop doing the healthy lifestyle behaviors that kept your weight under control.
Though the specific life challenge can vary from person to person (examples may include a new illness or injury, marital problems, taking care of a sick child or ill parent, heightened job stress or losing a job, financial worries, moving to a new home), the common theme is that weight regain and frustration can result.
I actually tell all of my patients that in times of stress, they can expect less healthful patterns of behavior to start creeping back into their lives.
The goal is to be ready for it and weather the storm by holding on to core strategies that are most meaningful and beneficial until the temporary stressful event resolves or a new norm emerges.
Core strategies are the central or most important habits that you put into place and rely on throughout your weight loss journey – especially during the most difficult times.
A good exercise I recommend is to list your core strategies on an index card or store them in your smartphone as a reminder of what works for you in your effort to maintain long-term success.
Here are some examples from patients over the years that I divide into 3 categories:
1 – Healthful Eating Strategies
-Having a daily plan of what you’re going to eat during the day
-Starting each day with a healthy breakfast meal
-Keeping trigger foods out of the home
-Not skipping meals
-Bringing lunch to work
2 – Physical Activity Strategies
-Wearing an activity tracker and working toward getting 8000-10,000 steps per day on most days of the week
-Taking your dog on 2 walks per day
-Taking breaks from sitting every hour to walk around and stretch
-Combining your home exercise bike and band workout with watching TV
-Holding walking meetings when possible
3 – Self-Helping Mindset Strategies
-Following a healthy sleep routine such as limiting screen time, not doing work and not discussing anxiety-producing topics before bed
-Using a meditation app, even for 5 minutes, when stressed
-Being more forgiving of yourself if you overeat or eat less healthful foods
-Asking for help or delegating more when you get swamped at work
-Weighing yourself on a regular basis
-Tracking your diet at least 1 day per week to stay on track
I encourage you to think about and write down your key strategies in each of these categories that can help you feel grounded even when the going gets tough.
Think of these strategies as anchor steps – they serve as the foundation for making further changes in each of the 3 categories.
The information in this blog regarding keeping weight off using core strategies has been adapted from my self-help book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You!
To learn more about my book and program that encompasses what’ I’ve learned helping thousands of patients manage weight over an almost 4-decade career, you can watch my Six Factors to Fit video here.
Robert Kushner, MD