The Lost Art of Weight Maintenance and Setting Realistic Health Goals

These days it’s hard to find nearly anyone who isn’t on some type of diet trying to lose X amount of weight. Instagram has become a haven for fitness fanatics and weight loss journey-ers alike. Magazines and media constantly promote weight loss products, services, and diets that fuel consumers urge to lose weight. The problem is, we never really hear people’s stories about how they are after the weight loss.

'Let me know if these weight-loss pills actually work.'

Our society loves the idea of weight loss. It gives companies a reason to sell their ineffective products and supplements and it gives you something to work for. It creates purpose, drive, and a plan. But what happens if you reached your desired weight loss/body composition goal?

I used to spend a great part of my day criticizing my appearance and wasting time on the little things regarding my weight. Social media made me feel like I needed to be striving for a weight loss/body composition/strength goal at all times and it became exhausting. I never felt good enough. I think this can be a common trap to those who are getting closer to the goals they have for themselves. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with setting up new fitness goals, I do think its important to know how to feels to just maintain. It is a skill we are not usually taught, as most of our time we are spending trying to get better or reach a goal.

Society is always propelling us to go above and beyond and tap into our true potential. We go through years of school, getting smarter (hopefully!) and more experienced. We bounce from job to job to grow our careers, we have babies who grow to be adults like us…we are always trying to reach toward the future.

I see a lot of extremes in fitness in my profession. Many women have started to want to compete in bikini and bodybuilding competitions while fixating so much on their diet and workout routines, and other important aspects of their life fall by the wayside. On the other side of the spectrum, a lot of fitness newbies begin to associate fitness with extremes which many times intimidates or de-motivates them to pursue a healthy fitness journey of their own.

So how do you find comfort and balance in a world of such extremes? It’s important to really sit down and figure out your own health and fitness goals, short-term and long-term. Write everything down and really decide which are realistic for you. Then, break down your goals into smaller chunks that are achievable. When you reach certain goals, check them off. If you are starting your fitness journey for the first time, this is hugely helpful, as most of the battle is just developing healthier habits.

Here are 10 goal ideas to work on that are achievable, better your health (and save you money on medical costs in the future), and make you feel better over time:

  1. Get at least 10,000 steps per day
  2. Drink half a gallon or more of water a day (depends on your activity level and some of this comes from food!)
  3. Perform moderate aerobic activity (e.g. brisk walking) 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (e.g. jogging, elliptical, biking) per week
  4. Reducing salt in your diet (look up DASH diet for ideas)
  5. Supplement Vitamin D if you do not go outside and iron if you are anemic
  6. Stretch a couple times a day
  7. Perform core stability (e.g. dead bugs, planks, pallof presses, bird dogs, etc.) exercises 2-3 times per week to prevent lower back pain and injuries
  8. Weight lift 2-3 times per week for total body focusing on compound movements (exercises that use more than one muscle group) sticking to 8-20 rep range for 2-4 sets if you know how or know a trainer who can help you with putting together a safe plan based on your limitations
  9. Learn your portions and memorize them. Learn how to read nutrition labels.
  10. Eat balanced meals of healthy carbs, proteins, and fats. Getting enough protein (~50g+) will help stabilize your hunger levels.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on creating goals of your own. The goals above can be broken down into smaller goals that will make it less daunting to start. Get good at the basics like above before tackling more vigorous goals like doing a spartan race.

Remember, you don’t have to go to extremes in order to be healthy. Once you hit certain goals like the ones above, create habits around them and continue doing those things. If you fall off the bandwagon, it’s OKAY, but get back on! Continue to strive to be better over time, not overnight. This will help you reach a maintenance mode where you don’t have to think about all these things all the time. It will become a habit. But remember, habits only form from what we repeatedly do. So repeatedly doing healthier things like the ones listed above will eventually become habits which will have significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing. So to answer the question earlier in this post, habits are what should happen after we reach our weight loss or fitness goals.

YOUR habits create YOUR maintenance.

Forget what others are striving for or what you think you should be striving for. Do what YOU want to strive for and be realistic. As Tony Robbins says, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”