We all had moments during weight loss when we started to lose momentum. Sometimes it may seem that our target weight is far away, and we may be tempted to give up. If losing weight starts to seem like an endless process, maybe it’s time to include a few steps to maintain weight in your plan.

A support period is a period when you simply focus on maintaining your current weight and provide much-needed mental and bodily rest from the intensity and focus of a weight loss program.

THE NEED FOR A MAINTENANCE PHASE

“A lot of people make an effort every day, and they need time to not strain themselves,” says Chris Freitag, personal trainer, health coach and founder of Get Healthy U TV.

Think about it: following a new diet and developing new exercise habits is hard work, both bodily and emotional. Your muscles, connective tissues, and joints can wear out as a result of your new exercises, and if you cut down on certain foods (or completely eliminated them), your willpower is probably depleted.

Also, some seasons are usually busier than others (think: going back to school and vacations). Or a few weeks at work can become exceptionally stressful. If your hands are already busy, the simultaneous implementation of a weight loss plan may be too much. Naturally, many people freeze their weight loss goal and fall into old unhealthy habits.

THE WAY TO PLAN, TO KEEP

If you know that you are having trouble following a weight loss plan during one (or all) of these matters, try turning it into a supportive phase. This can prevent the inevitable burnout and feelings of failure that often lead people to completely leave the healthy habits they have worked so hard on, making it much harder to get back on the right track.

Freitag recommends looking at your year and identifying periods when you are very busy or know you want to take a break from the intensity of your weight loss program. For example, you can choose a program for the first months of the year (January-March) and use spring break as an opportunity to relax a little. Or, if you know that it will be too difficult to keep up during the holidays, plan it as a maintenance period.

Of course, all this is not set in stone, and sooner or after you may need a break.

“body fitness is a long-term thing,” Freitag says, “you don’t always have to be 12 weeks, 12 weeks of rest.”

MAINTENANCE IS NOT A PASSENGER

Do not confuse “maintenance” with “inactivity”. “(Hopefully) you will continue to adhere to healthy eating habits and exercise regularly during the maintenance period, just by reducing the intensity a little.

Freitag recommends setting a goal to follow the CDC’s recommendations on body activity. This means you should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio (like walking) or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio (like jogging or running) and two full-body strength workouts per week. Be sure to add variety to your workouts so that you don’t get bored.

Freytag also suggests including flexibility exercises, such as yoga or Pilates, in your daily routine for the maintenance period. “Many people, trying to lose weight, put a lot of effort into cardio and strength training,” she says. Classes like yoga and Pilates can help your tissues recover after all the hard work so that you can return to the weight loss phase and feel strong and rested.

When it comes to dieting, Freitag advises following the 80/20 rule: stick to your healthy eating habits 80% of the time and leave yourself some wiggle room 20% of the time. This could mean having dessert over dinner at the weekend or having a drink with friends, “but it has to happen gradually,” Freitag says. “The maintenance phase doesn’t mean they’re going off the rails.”

It’s also a good idea to find an element of responsibility, whether it’s communicating with someone else or finding an exercise class that you could participate in every week. If you surround yourself with like-minded people, you will be able to stay motivated and not lose your way.

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