Article courtesy of; ‘How I’ve Kept the Weight Off’ by Anna Van Dyken, Published by Macmillan, RRP $39.99, Photography by Jeremy Simons
I’m often asked how I maintain my weight, and my answer is simple – not much changes from the weight-loss phase! I always draw on what I learned throughout my weight-loss journey, and have built long-lasting habits that are now just a part of my everyday lifestyle. For me, consistency is key. Here are my top 10 truths to weight-maintenance success.
1. Treat every day the same
Early on in my journey, I used to think that I could ‘relax’ on the weekends. I found that I would treat them differently to the weekdays. I soon decided that, realistically, a Monday is no different to a Saturday. Once I treated every day the same and learned to be consistent with my eating, I found success.
2. Work smarter, not harder, with meal prep
Each week I set aside a couple of hours on a weekend to meal prep. This helps me stay organised and in control of those busy midweek meals, the days when I’m too tired to cook, and even impromptu lunch or dinner guests. Meal prepping can be anything from batch cooking and freezing family- style meals, to something as simple as cutting up ‘grab and go’ veggies to make quick, 5-minute stir-fries or easy meals during the week. Simple hacks like this allow me to make a meal from scratch in half the time, and I always feel more in control and on track with my eating when there’s a stash of homemade frozen meals ready to go in the freezer.
3. Find an activity that you love
This is the secret to making exercise a healthy habit. You do it because you actually want to and, this way, it doesn’t feel like a chore. For me, walking is what I love doing the most. It gives me time to reset, refocus and clear my mind. Plus, it brings me back into nature, it’s budget friendly, and it’s sustainable. Walking is the only form of exercise that I did throughout my entire weight-loss journey, and still do today. Each day I aim for 10,000 steps, and mix it up between length and pace walking. Having a great music playlist to walk to makes it fun, and motivates me to go faster and set the pace.
4. Consider strength training
In the year I reached my goal, I added a little strength training to improve mobility and to ensure I have strong healthy bones as I age. I also found it helpful for de ning my shape, which is a bonus! I never used to consider myself a goal setter of any kind, but I love how strength training has pushed me to set new goals and challenge my body and my mind. It’s extremely empowering to realise just how capable I am, how far I have come and and how far I can go.
5. Create a bedtime routine
Establishing a consistent sleep routine is so important. Each night, I take a warm shower, drink a calming cup of peppermint or chamomile tea and listen to a meditation to help me relax and unwind. This ongoing routine helps my body know it’s time to slow down and rest, and helps me feel refreshed and re-energised the next day. I also nd that I feel calmer and more in control of my food choices when I’m consistent with my routine.
6. Be realistic
I learned not to set my goals too far in advance, as they often felt unattainable. Setting smaller, more realistic goals helped to strengthen my mindset and allowed me to feel that I’d accomplished something. I wanted to enjoy life along the way, so I never put any pressure on myself, as I found that was one of the main reasons I had failed in the past. It takes as long as it takes and, as long as you’re learning from mistakes, you will continue to move in the right direction.
7. It’s all about balance
There’s no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, rather everyday foods and sometimes foods. I’ve come to learn that there is no need to ever feel deprived. If I want something, I simply track it, enjoy it and move on. Now I’ve rid my ‘all or nothing’ mindset, no foods are o limits!
8. Remain positive
Adopting a positive mindset was a big factor in helping me to get where I am today. Of course, there were some ‘o ’ days, but acceptance and patience was something I had to learn, as well as not feeling that I needed to be perfect all the time, as this was unrealistic. I changed my can’t into can – and you can too! For every problem, there is always a solution: you just need to find it.
9. Stay connected
Staying in touch with the WW community and receiving support and advice from Coaches has been an integral part of my journey. It keeps me up to date on the latest information in health and wellness, and being around like-minded people helps me to remain accountable and positive, plus it also reminds me of how far I have come and why I changed my lifestyle. Sure, habits keep you going, but sometimes life happens and we don’t always stay on track. By staying accountable within an active community, I have to be honest with myself and I find it easier to get back to basics and start tracking again.
10. Remember, there’s no beginning or end to a lifestyle
It’s so important to see your journey as a lifestyle that you can build on, and one that’s sustainable in the longer term, rather than a ‘diet’. I accepted that making a lifestyle change would come with its challenges, but knowing that there were going to be ups and downs, and working through them and not giving in – no matter how hard it was – reminded me of why I decided to make a change for life.