There’s a great feeling of euphoria that comes after completing a diet or cleanse. The mind feels clearer, digestion is hopefully better, and the body is lighter. The sad reality is that this is a short-lived state of improved health. Some people rush back to everything they couldn’t eat during their diet, while others gradually slack off and become unhealthier over time.
Most people gain back whatever weight they lose during a diet or cleanse within two or three years. The most prominent theory for this is because people think that a specific fad diet or cleanse will cure their problems. It can often feel that way once the person reaches the end of the diet. They have more energy and feel less sluggish, and that is wonderful, but it doesn’t mean that the journey is over. Maintaining your progress or cleansing efforts is the real challenge, and it’s one that people tend to ignore.
The Importance Of A Maintenance Period
The transitional period after a diet or cleanse will dictate your ability to manage weight. It’s important to understand that a diet is temporary or forever. If you only diet for a limited time, the results don’t last forever. Permanent change and weight management comes from making serious lifestyle changes. That’s where the maintenance period comes into play. During the maintenance phase, you can make slow adjustments or additions to your new lifestyle. It’s much easier to notice positive or negative effects during this phase as well.
During the maintenance period, people can pull from what they learned about dieting and incorporate that into their new lifestyle. The key takeaway from that sentence is “new lifestyle.” If old habits led you to diet in the first place, it makes sense that change is necessary. If you want to maintain your progress, continue your progress, or prevent weight gain, specific diet and exercise habits have to take place. The mindset needs to shift from “my goal was to diet” to “my goal is to maintain.”
Why People Struggle With Maintaining Progress
First of all, it’s not very fun. After working hard to complete a diet or cleanse, the idea of working hard to maintain that progress is unappealing. As unappealing as it may be, it makes the most sense. Rather than reverting back to unhealthy habits, maintaining new habits and lifestyle changes help you progress forward to live healthier. Maintenance periods are also difficult because the purpose is to maintain weight, keeping it stable. You can fluctuate within a few pounds, but people like to see the pounds go down if they work hard.
In reality, the body doesn’t want to lose weight. It’s a highly intelligent series of organs and systems, which can start to feel sluggish over time. People engage in cleanses and diets to undo the damage that the Western diet causes. It’s difficult to lose weight, or even maintain weight loss, because that goes against the body’s nature. It stores fat for survival and fighting against this natural process is work. It takes constant effort to maintain weight and fight weight gain, but the mental shift to maintain weight comes with many benefits. In fact, some of the benefits are better realized during a maintenance period. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Reduced stress levels
- Higher energy levels
- Enhanced performance
- Reduced hunger
Maintaining weight is actually very empowering, but some people view it in a negative light. According to several studies, people are excellent at dieting, but maintaining that progress is the difficult part.
How To Remain In A Maintenance Phase
The goal of maintenance is to keep the body in homeostasis, i.e. in a state of staying the same. Ideally, a person weighs in three or four times per week. Keep your weigh-in times constant, use the same scale, and weigh yourself in the morning after using the restroom. When you have a weigh-in approach, average out your weight from each weigh-in day to achieve a weekly average. Continue this approach for several weeks and you’ll be able to identify if you are maintaining or gaining. Ultimately, your diet and exercise regimen will dictate your progress.
The best thing you can do is to stay educated about your health. Participate in fitness challenges weekly or monthly, and dive into the endless world of healthy recipes. So many online videos, tutorials, and recipes exist, making your life incredibly easy. Information is at your fingertips, so use it to your advantage to maintain your weight loss.