How To Maintain Weight Loss Long Term

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So you’ve lost weight.

Now here comes the tricky part: keeping it off.

Hi, it’s Ivana, helping you get fit healthy and strong at any age.

In this video, I’m going to show you how to maintain your weight loss long-term. And at the end, I’m going to share the three things that they found that people who were unsuccessful with weight loss had in common.

Research On How To Maintain Weight Loss

A lot of the suggestions that I’m going to share are directly from a study that was released in early 2021, and looked at people who were successful and people who are not successful at long-term weight loss. Many people are successful at losing weight in the short term, but of people who successfully lose weight after one year 80% will have gained it back after two years, 85%. And after three years, 95% of people will have regained the weight that they lost. In most cases, people will gain back more than they started with.
And I don’t want you to be one of those people.

Pick A Sustainable Weight Loss Plan

Make sure that your plan is sustainable for you. The important thing is adherence. Whether you’re able to stick to that particular nutrition plan. If you lost weight through a fad diet, that was a real challenge for you to stick to like Keto for someone like me, who loves their carbs. It’s probably not going to work for you term.

If, on the other hand, you’re someone who loves their fat, then you’re probably going to be okay with keto. And it may be an effective strategy for you. Despite what you might hear from people who advocate for different diets. It doesn’t really matter what diet you’re on. The evidence shows that as long as the calories are equated, then you’re likely to be successful. So the important thing, when you’re choosing a way of eating is that incorporates all the things that you want to eat.

You have your favourite foods in there. You incorporate the healthy foods that you really enjoy. So you have something that’s pleasurable for you, but also allows you to get into a calorie deficit.


Another thing that’s been shown to be successful for long-term weight loss is self-monitoring. So that can be recording your eating.

Calorie tracking can be quite effective for a lot of people. Portion control, which can mean either using smaller plates and then just eating what’s on that plate.
Or you can actually be measuring or weighing your food.

I like measuring cups for particular foods like nuts, because then I know I’m not overeating that particularly calorie dense food weighing yourself can also be a part of self-monitoring. I know that some people get down on that and you don’t want to be too focused on your weight from day to day. However, people that do weigh themselves consistently do tend to be more successful with weight loss long-term.

I’ve seen this in clients over the years, the ones who always wanted to avoid being weighed the reason was because they knew that they weren’t adhering to the plan and they knew that their weight was going up or it was staying the same. So they wanted to avoid the scale. If you’re afraid of the scale for that reason, then it’s probably important for you to track and monitor your weight with the scale. But that’s not for everybody. Some people can become too obsessive with that. You need to know yourself in that respect.
Not for everybody, but helpful for many.

Meal Planning

For long-term weight loss meal planning can be a real benefit. So that means that you probably know what you’re having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Maybe you’re packing snacks when you go. It doesn’t mean that you’re packing everything all the time, but you want to plan for social events.

So if you know that if you’re going out, you might have a snack beforehand so that you’re not too hungry. Or you might even check in and see what the restaurant has. If you’re going out to a restaurant and look at your better options and then make that decision beforehand.

Although it seems great to just be relaxed and go with the flow. It’s not a very good strategy for weight loss. In fact, it’s not a strategy at all. And in the longterm people who do plan ahead and have an idea of what they’re going to be eating in future meals, future days. They’re the ones who are more successful.

Exercise To Maintain Weight Loss

Exercise is important for long-term weight loss. In the short term, we often say that it’s actually not that effective for weight loss. It’s not a ton of calorie burn. And if you actually try to lose weight with just exercise alone, it’s very challenging, but it has been shown that people who exercise and are more active are more likely to stick to the other part of their plan, the nutrition side, and exercise and neat non-exercise activity thermogenesis can make a difference over time.

Many times as people get older, they start to reduce the amount of activity that they do, and they slowly but surely find themselves putting on weight, staying active and exercising regularly can help you stick to your plan and can help you lose weight in the long term.

Have A Structured Plan

What’s also interesting is that it’s been found that a structured plan is more likely to be successful. So if you go to the gym, you know exactly. If you’re doing a body part plan, what body part you’re doing. Ahat type of training you’re doing that day. Or if you’re aiming for cardio, then you have a routine.
Because if people have a plan, then they’re less likely to go off of it. If you just have a vague notion that you need to exercise a bit more, you’re not going to stick to that because it’s not really a commitment to anything.

Starting A Weight Loss Journey

A structured plan makes you feel like you’re on more of a journey and it helps you enjoy the process rather than focusing on the result. And it really is important to enjoy the journey because it is a lifestyle change that you need to make in order to stay at the weight that you’re at. If you’ve made drastic changes, but you don’t feel like you can keep them up. That’s obviously not going to allow you to sustain your weight loss.

Maybe you start off by working out twice a week, and then you’re reducing your treats to just on the weekend. And then you might incorporate more vegetables and gradually you change your lifestyle to something that is healthier, produces a calorie deficit makes you feel better.
Before you know it, you’re so much further than you were a year ago. But it doesn’t feel like it’s been all that drastic.
And you’re not just going to slip right back there because you’ve made a gradual and change.

I recommend to my clients that they track and monitor their weights that they’re doing over time so that they can see the progress because that reinforces this habit that they’re starting to build. And it makes you feel good about the process. Again, rather than just focusing on the result of weight loss, you’re actually acquiring some other benefits as well. You’re getting stronger, you’re feeling better. All those things can be monitored.

Have The Right Motivation To Maintain Weight Loss

Another important key to long-term weight loss is having the right motivation. So if you have a strong reason for why you want to lose weight, then it’s likely to pull you through the tough spots. A lot of people who were successful in this study, they really felt the drive to improve their health.

Change How You See Yourself

Basically, as you go through your weight loss plan, you’re reinventing yourself through this new lifestyle.

So maybe you thought of yourself as the person on the couch, eating a bag of chips. And now you’re the person who goes to the gym regularly.

You’re changing the type of person that you are through this lifestyle. And if you do that successfully in a gradual sustainable way, you’re going to be successful with the long-term weight loss, because a diet is not something that has an end point, because once you end, you’re going to stop getting those results. You need to do the same things you did to lose weight. If you want to continue to lose weight. It does get easier because obviously you’ve adapted to being able to do those things, but you really have to keep doing those things. If you want to keep seeing those results goal setting has been shown to be effective for long-term weight loss. So it doesn’t have to be just the weight.

Tracking Your Improvements

Although of course, we’ve shown that monitoring your weight can be helpful, but you can also do things like tracking your improvements. In particular lifts, say, you can squat a bit more or you can shoulder press a bit more, or you might increase the duration that you’re doing cardio or the speed that you’re running.
And you can set particular goals for your diet as well. You can add a couple of vegetables to each day, or you can decide to have a smaller treat. The next time you go out, or you can plan to do meal prep on a Sunday so that you have food ready for the week.

Setting Goals

Setting those goals can make you more likely to stick to the process. Long-term weight loss is more likely to be successful.

Social Support

If you have social support, ideally this would be your partner, whoever you live with who is supporting your journey and perhaps on the same journey as well.
So if there’s healthy eating at home, it’s a lot easier to stick to. Then if your partner’s constantly buying chocolate and chips and keeping it around you.
But it can also be part of sticking to an exercise routine. If you have a coach at the gym, or if you have a friend that you work out with regularly, or at least someone that you check in with this can all be helpful for maintaining your weight loss.

Being Able To Endure Challenges

Being able to endure challenges is a really important part of weight loss. There are always things that come up during a weight loss journey. You might have an illness. You might have a death in your family. A life keeps going on. Even as you try to have this perfect nutrition plan and this ideal workout routine.

The Role Of Emotional Eating In Weight Loss Maintenance

Emotional eating can be a big factor in driving people back to old behaviour. So if you go through those situations and you’re able to cope with them successfully without using food, then you’re more likely to be successful. And it’s often about finding different ways of dealing with your stresses.

So I often work with clients just in healing their relationship with food, because if you are constantly using food, when you’re in a stressful situation, then you’re always going to have the ups and downs of your weight. The weight fluctuations will always happen as long as food is what you turn to in situations of stress and sadness.

One of the things that I think is a real key for successful weight loss is not feeling guilty. If something goes off track and incorporating your favorite foods. So if you have a plan that doesn’t include, let’s say in my case chocolate, if I had a plan like that, I wouldn’t be able to stick to it for a long period of time.

Why People Fail To Maintain Weight Loss

I’m going directly back to the study now for the three things that they found in the people who were not able to sustain long-term weight loss.

Lack Of Planning

And the first one was lack of planning, but we’ve talked about that one a little bit. When it comes to your nutrition, when it comes to your workouts, things do have to be planned out. You can’t just hope for the best. You need to have a plan and work out a way to stick to the plan.

Social Pressure

Which kind of brings me to the second thing, which was social pressure.
The people who were unable to fight back against the negative social pressures that they were receiving were the ones that weren’t successful. Sometimes when you have a goal in mind, you just need to keep focused on that goal and shut the other things out. There are always going to be people talking in your ear, no matter what you’re trying to achieve.
You need to believe in your own process and you need to believe in yourself.

Excessive Dietary Restriction

And the third thing that made people unsuccessful with long-term weight loss was excessive dietary restriction. So that means that people just felt deprived and they couldn’t continue with that.

Anyone can stick it out and have motivation and be super excited about their goal for a short period of time. But what happens a year down the road two years or three years, if you feel deprived because the plan you’re following is just too strict or it doesn’t make sense for you. And I’ve talked about a couple of examples, then it’s not the right plan for you. So hopefully what’s gotten you to weight loss up until this point is sustainable for you. And if not, you might need to change your plan a little bit so that long-term, you won’t feel deprived. It’s just going to feel part of your normal lifestyle. And you’re going to feel like that person who’s healthy and lean and active.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 8-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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