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Your client worked their way to a healthy weight, now they want to keep it off. Long-term weight loss—which is weight loss that is sustained for two years or more—is possible, but it does take some work. Especially if they want to defy the odds.
Studies have found that most people who have lost weight will gain it back. More than 50% will gain the weight back within the first two years. After five years, four out of five people will be back at their beginning weight. Other research has found that, the more weight you lose, the harder it is to keep it off.
So, how do help clients stay at their goal weight and avoid weight regain? Here are a few guidelines that can help with successful weight loss maintenance.
One of the main problems with many diets is that they are short-term. This makes weight loss short-term too. To keep the weight off, your clients must keep their healthy eating habits. They can't go back to the same behaviors that led them to initially gain weight. If they do, the weight will come back.
Healthy eating involves following a balanced diet. It also consists of consuming primarily whole foods. Lean proteins, low-fat dairy, complex carbs, fruits, and vegetables are all part of a healthy diet. Sticking to these foods most of the time can help in avoiding weight regain.
What if they lost their initial weight with a fad diet that didn't teach them healthy eating basics? Working with a dietitian or nutritionist can help you learn which eating habits can lead to long-term weight loss success.
Learn how to teach your clients about which foods they should be eating, and in what amounts, with the ISSA's online Nutritionist program. It is a great way to earn a new credential at your own pace!
Losing weight is about eating fewer calories than you take in. But what should your client's calorie intake be if their goal is to maintain their weight loss goal? This number is different for everyone and varies based on a variety of factors. Sex, height, and level of physical activity all determine one's total calorie needs.
A good starting point is to calculate your client's calorie intake while losing weight. Slowly increase the number of calories they consume until their weight levels off. Staying around this number can help prevent the lost weight from coming back.
Does this mean that they will have to count calories for the rest of their life if they want successful weight loss? Not necessarily. Over time, you will learn what type of eating plan will keep their energy intake in the desired range. This will allow them to stay aware of their food intake without requiring as much effort as it did to lose the weight initially.
The weight loss phase often feels like it takes forever, yet weight gain appears to happen almost overnight. One morning you wake up and all your lost weight is back. While this isn't necessarily the case, it is important to stop weight gain as quickly as possible after it starts.
It's normal for weight to fluctuate a few pounds from day to day. However, if a client notices an upward trend, it's time to take action. Review their dietary intake and see where they may be a little lax. The sooner you get them back on track, the less damage they'll have to undo.
Successful weight loss maintainers have often mastered the art of mindful eating. Eating is a conscious activity for them. It's not something they do without thought, simply hoping for the best.
Mindful eating requires being fully present in the eating process. It involves:
Sitting down while eating, preferably at the kitchen table or some other designated eating area
Not doing anything else while eating—no checking email or social media, and no watching TV or reading the daily news
Tasting each bite of food, paying attention to how it feels in your mouth
Staying aware of your satiety level so you know when you've had enough
Eating mindfully can take a bit of getting used to, especially if your client is a person who likes to multitask. However, once they do it, they will likely notice that they get fuller faster. They may even look forward to the eating process because it gives them a chance to be present in the moment.
Diet is only one part of the weight loss equation. If you want to keep the weight off, exercise can help. Exercise also offers additional benefits, such as the reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Being physically fit makes it easier to engage in everyday activities like carrying groceries and doing housework.
This is where you, as a personal trainer can help. You can work with them to identify how much exercise they need to keep their weight down. They can also devise a program that maximizes fat loss should they notice any of the weight beginning to creep back on.
A comprehensive exercise program includes cardio, strength training, and flexibility training. All three work together to provide maximum health and fitness. They all also assist with weight maintenance. The more physical activity your client does, the easier it is to keep the weight off.
Remind them that they don't have to spend hours in the gym either. They can often maintain weight control by working out 30-60 minutes a day, four or five days a week. Pick activities they enjoy so they are motivated to stick to their physical activity routine. Working out with a friend can help with this too.
Obese patients may undergo weight loss surgery in an effort to lose a large portion of their body weight. This weight loss intervention often requires a few different strategies and cautions when it comes to maintaining the loss.
For instance, because the stomach is smaller, meals must also be smaller. This typically means eating more times throughout the day to ensure the body get the nutrients it body needs. This creates more opportunities for making unhealthy food choices.
Weight loss maintenance post-surgery requires a dedication to stick to a healthy diet. It is making a conscious decision daily to put obesity in the past. Have clients talk to their doctor if they are having trouble sticking to their diet after surgery, or if they notice any weight gain. Doctors can provide effective weight management strategies based on the client's situation and the surgery they had.
Everyone is different. What may help one person with weight loss maintenance may not work for another. The key is to figure out what works for each individual client.
If they followed a healthy diet and exercise program to achieve successful weight loss, sticking with the same habits and principles can help them stay at their goal weight. If they followed a weight loss program that wasn't designed to be long-term, working with a nutritionist and personal trainer like yourself can help them learn which habits will support long term weight loss.
Earn your Weight Management Specialist certification to learn more ways to help your clients maintain successful weight loss. This course teaches effective weight control techniques for keeping the excess weight off.