How to lose weight and keep it off

After / Before

For many people there comes a time when you say enough is enough and you decide to lose some weight. Your decision may come about from a visit to your doctor, or you received a not so subtle comment from a partner or friend, you may have tight fitting cloths or too many cloths you cannot wear any more, fed up with being overlooked for a work promotion, or being judged for your weight rather than your abilities and who you are, or finding your mobility difficult, and can’t tie your shoe laces.

When you looked in the mirror and said to yourself this is not the person I want to be, did you stop and think about how you got where you are with weight?

For successful weight loss and weight maintenance, it’s important you understand and address your reasons for your weight gain. The amount of weight to lose, your weight history (any weight cycling, dieting), your current health conditions and mobility and physical fitness must all be considered when deciding on a weight loss program for you.

Understand causes of excess weight

It is vital to understand why and how you put the weight on. Once you have a conscious understanding of the drivers of your weight gain you can get started on developing a plan and some strategies to lose the weight. Having a plan and strategies that are right for you will not only get the weight off but also keep it off.

For example, if you gained weight because you eat excess biscuits and other snacks as a way to cope with work stress or boredom or emotions, simply taking the biscuits away will most likely lead you to replace them with some other food. Whereas if you have some strategies to help you cope with stress or boredom, or other emotional eating(due to anxiety, sadness, happiness, loneliness) and some alternative better foods to eat in place of the biscuits you are more likely to lose weight, and more importantly to keep it off because you are addressing the causes of the weight gain.

The next step is to decide on the amount of weight you want to lose because you will need a different plan and different strategies depending on the amount of weight you have accumulated. Losing between 5 and 10 kg is different to losing 15 to 30kg, and different again to losing over 30 plus kg.

A plan for you to lose around 5 to 10 kg will require you to reduce your calories, and/or increase your physical activity, balance your nutrition for your age and current health conditions.
To achieve this, you may need to increase your nutrition knowledge, gain meal planning skills and look at your work life balance and coping skills. Then decide on some strategies that will address the areas you have identified.

How much weight to lose

When you have around the 10 to 20 kg to lose you really need to take a deeper look at why you gained the weight and why you want to reduce it. Digging deep into the causes of your weight gain will then determine the best strategies for you. The causes of the extra weight may be relatively simple such as a lack of physical activity combined with a few unhealthy daily dietary habits over a long period. Alternatively, and less straight forward the weight gain could be from a lot of fad dieting, confusion about what is a healthy diet, low self-esteem, using food to cope with life stressors and emotions. In this case you would require quite a different set of strategies.

For weight loss of 20 to 40 plus kg not only is it vital to understand the drivers of the weight gain you also need to understand how the excess weight has impacted your relationship with food, your self-esteem, self-efficacy, your body image and the effects of weight stigmatism.

Post weight loss

In this situation strategies that empower and increase your self-confidence are vital, as are strategies to increase mindfulness, awareness of body cues and signals of hunger and fullness. You will also need to look at your knowledge of food and nutrition, and skills in meal planning, and budgeting along with adjustments in levels of physical activity.

As you can see losing weight and keeping it off can vary from being relatively easy for some people to being very complicated and confusing for others.

Weight-loss is therefore multifaceted,and often difficult to achieve and maintain, which explains why over 80 %of dieters regain lost weight.

Weight loss can be complicated and confusing

Below is a 10-step process to help you get started.

  1. Try to understand why you want to lose weight. This will help you with your motivated. This is a process of digging deep into your emotions, of letting go of false stores you tell yourself, of the being honest with yourself.
  2. Try to understand what caused your weight gain. Ask yourself is food and nutrition knowledge, work life balance, low coping skills, or lack of physical activity.
  3. Decide how much weight you want to lose and set your weight goal. Set a specific, measurable, achievable realistic goal.
  4. Plan your strategies to address the driver of weight gain. Decide which areas you need to work on first and try not to overwhelm yourself.
  5. Create an energy deficit by using a combination of strategies, reduces calories intakes, increase physical activity, changes the types of food you eat.
  6. Improve your knowledge of food and nutrition, and skills in meal planning, recipe modification.
  7. Increase your physical activity levels and/ or types of physical activity.
  8. Monitor and track your progress and revise your plan as needed.
  9. Start small and be consistent with your strategies.
  10. Reward your success.

Successful weight loss and Maintenance occurs when you can modify your lifestyles to achieve early successes, when you can remodel your new lifestyle behaviours over time; when you have enough social support and you attend to anything that threatens your weight status. Importantly, successful weight loss is viewed as a lifelong commitment.

Seek professional help if you need it. We are here to understand and help you get started.