OK . . . it’s February, and you have been good with your diet and exercise routines for the last five weeks. You figure that all that ‘huffing and puffing’ should give you a good boost for the rest of the year. Over the holidays you probably gained a few pounds. But, based on the advice of friends or the latest soundbite floating in the air, you figure that hitting the gym for a few weeks should get you back on track.
This is where many people begin their weight-loss and weight maintenance back-slide. To remain at a consistent weight and fitness level requires a year-round effort.
Even if those five weeks were to be spread over the year it’s not enough to stay in shape.
To maintain a consistent fitness level requires that we continue our healthful routines regularly throughout the year – not just for five or six weeks. By doing this you will look and feel great when others are struggling to keep up . . . even when you back-slide occasionally.
What is weight maintenance?
Defining weight maintenance takes many things into consideration – age, sex, body structure (ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph), height, fitness level and even ethnicity and fluid balance (our bodies are made up of 60% water).
Women can experience weight fluctuations during their menstrual cycle.
Based on the above, a goal can be set to reach a specific weight and remain within a narrow percentage of that weight going forward.
I would define weight maintenance, therefore, as a personal goal you set . . . based on your body type and the effort it takes to reach and stay at that pre-determined goal. You should not vary more than three (3) percent up or down from this number.
How to set a specific goal-weight
To set your goal weight you must first visit with your doctor who can better assess your body type and the range of ideal weights within that body type.
For example if you are a woman weighing 170 pounds at an average height of 5’5” and you have ectomorph body shape your goal would be to lose between 30 and 40 pounds. Conversely, if you are an endomorph of average height, your ideal weight should be in the range of 140 to 170. These numbers are not medically determined and a physical exam by a medical doctor will better inform you as to your ideal weight.
Things to do to maintain a proper body weight
After you have set and reach your goal now comes the fun part – maintaining that weight. Proper weight maintenance requires a commitment to fueling your body correctly and keeping a consistent exercise routine . . . one that you can follow indefinitely.
The key word here is indefinitely. It makes no sense to exercise for a few weeks a year or play a round of golf on the weekends and expect to be fit. Being fit and healthy means sticking to a lifestyle of eating correctly and being active. Sure there will be lapses here and there because we are not perfect. But over time we will get better at dealing with them.
A fact to keep in mind with eating right and exercising correctly is that – gains are made in the period after your workouts. This is when you must feed your body the right nutrients and give it proper rest. Without these you won’t realize the full benefit of your lifestyle changes.
How is your diet?
I don’t believe in dieting because it leads to false hopes and potential depression when the weight slowly creeps back. Just check out the contestants in the popular show “The Biggest Loser”. Most of the entrants gain the weight back in a short time.
I believe in disciplined eating. My approach to energizing my body with food is simple. I call it the Think and Eat strategy. It reminds you to assess everything that goes into your mouth – whether it will promote health or potentially cause harm.
I recommend visiting with a certified dietitian who can setup the right meal plan for you that’s easy to follow.
I also recommend keeping a food journal and document everything you eat for two weeks. You will be amazed at the junk we eat during the day.
You might find that preparing meals before hand to be too time-consuming and bothersome but it takes the guess work out of knowing what to eat each day.
I would suggest spending at least one day per week planning your meals for the next five days. Try it for a couple of weeks and keep a list of the meals you prepare.
The best exercise routine to lose and maintain weight
By now we should all know the value of exercising . . . but the type of exercises we do is of utmost importance. I say this because everyday I see people working out but not losing weight or unable to maintain their weight.
The best exercise to lose weight is a combination of the right cardio with focused resistance training. The workout routine I use to maintain my fitness level and weight is a combination of fat burning cardio and consistent resistance exercises.
To burn calories requires us to exercise in a certain heart rate zone. While in this zone we are raising our core temperature and torching calories. I use HIIT to do this.
HIIT workouts have periods of high-intensity movements followed by periods of low-intensity recovery, thus incorporating the anaerobic and aerobic systems of our body.
When I do weight training – usually three days per week – I use as many compound exercises as possible. This allows me to work more than one muscle at a time. Squats and bench presses are good examples. Doing pull-ups is another great compound exercise that will benefit your entire core area.
As with the foods you eat I recommend keeping an exercise journal for about a month or until you have a few set routines and are beginning to see results.
How often should I weight myself?
As part of your weight maintenance routine you should weigh yourself regularly. How often you do this- daily, weekly or occasionally – is a personal choice. I find that weighing myself once or twice per week gives me a better gauge as to how I am progressing towards my weight loss and weight maintenance goals.
This is not an exhaustive post on weight maintenance and I would recommend visiting previous entries for additional information.
To get more information on how to prevent pre-diabetes go here.