Diet survival requires an external battle--You v. co-workers, or the weekend, or habits or plain-old boredom--but survival in maintenance is an internal struggle...
You v. You.
Since “You” always wins, the question is who are you today? Really?
Assuming a new body requires a new brain to go with it and speaking from experience, they don’t blossom simultaneously. There are so many factors—the amount of weight lost, the length of time you’ve carried it, your age and stage in life—your unique story that lead to weight gain in the first place. While you’ve gained tools during the diet (like the priority lean protein, veggies and water must have in your food life), maintaining your weight requires something beyond being a rule follower.
Now you must become an explorer of sorts: new foods, new preparations, new exercises, new challenges. A warrior of sorts: battling old habits, internal criticism, fear and the seemingly insatiable need for pleasure. Most importantly, you have to be a decision maker. Will you eat yourself back to where you used to be or not? The reason we gain weight is because of what we put in our mouths. Please don’t relinquish that authority.
These Phase 4 guidelines are by no means exhaustive, but I hope they will help you maintain your current weight loss and get on with the wonderful gift of life.
• Eat at least half of your body weight in in grams of lean protein to maintain your muscle mass, every day. You'll need more if you’re working out. Hopefully you are!
• Drink about half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Pay your body back with water for every drop of caffeine you consume.
• Enjoy a combination of protein/fat/carbs (anything you like) for breakfast. Breakfast is fuel and you’ve got all day to burn it up.
• For Lunch and Dinner, keep fats and carbohydrates separate. A meal with fat should contain few carbohydrates and vice-versa.
• Eat real food and make it a policy to not eat anything fake. Remember, you don’t get a million dollar body on the dollar menu.
• Eat vegetables with every meal.
• Whole grain pasta, brown rice, potato, fruit, artichokes and avocado are healthy, "real," fat and carb options that are good for you. Donuts, packaged meals and processed foods are not.
• Look up food items online to determine the nutritional content before you eat them. This is particularly helpful if you are dining at a restaurant. Knowledge is power and when you know the body cost, the food might not be as attractive.
• Know your Basal Metabolic Rate. This is your approximate caloric allowance. If you consistently eat beyond your boundary and you’re not exercising your body will store those calories for later—enter body fat.
• You were made to move! You’ve got to build exercise (a combination of cardio/resistance) into your life at least 3 times per week.
• Weigh in monthly with your coach. Accountability is important! None of us are immune to weight gain--be aware of your numbers and clean up messes as they occur--don't ignore them.
• Be gentle with yourself and learn to understand your body’s daily and monthly cycles. Our bodies are built to store fat (that’s why it’s easy to gain and so difficult to lose) so if you reach your threshold, get back on the diet for a few weeks—call it a “cleanse” not defeat and move forward!
Dionne is a certified Ideal Protein coach who lost 25 pounds following the protocol way back when. Since then she's learned to cook healthier meals (and actually eat them), get a daily dose of iron in the form barbells and kettle bells and is usually training to improve her time in an upcoming half marathon.