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Since my husband and I have met our wellness goals, we are not ready to watch our bodies creep back to where they were, but rather to maintain the progress we’ve made and go even further. How do we avoid becoming another statistic for weight regain or resume our couch-potatoing, Christmas cookie-eating ways? The vital keys to long-term success lie before and after the hard work of reaching your goals.

Key #1: Before you change anything

Decide carefully how you will achieve your goals. For many years, scientists have been studying methods for weight loss to find the “best” way to get pounds off. The surprising result of a lot of this research is that so many methods work. A lot of nutritionists have taken to saying, “diets don’t work.” It might be semantics but in general, if the goal is to lose weight – most fad diets do work. Whether it’s low carb, low fat, low calorie, or portion control – weight typically comes off.1-5  If they didn’t work at all for losing weight, word would get around pretty quickly and they would never become popular.

Here’s the kicker (besides that many fad diets aren’t safe): the statistics for maintaining weight loss after a diet are horrendous. Long-term studies show that five years after short-term diets the result is an average regain to anywhere from a net loss of only 6 lbs to a gain of 10-21% of pre-diet weight.2,6 Yikes!

Many fad diets can be extreme, overly restrictive, or just plain miserable (or option d, all of the above). Most people beginning a diet program are willing to commit to short-term pain for long-term gain. Unfortunately, the reality is that long-term dieting is generally not sustainable, and weight loss from short-term dieting is temporary.

But fear not – all hope is not lost! The National Weight Control Registry is comprised of people who have successfully lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for at least a year, though most participants have lost an average of 72.6 lbs and kept it off for more than 5 years.7 Their participants report that ongoing, long-term participation in sustainable habit changes has been key to their success, as opposed to radical, short-term dieting. You can read more about their habit changes at the National Weight Control Registry website.

All these studies show that a pivotal ingredient for long-term success with wellness, weight loss, muscle gain, or any habit change is sustainability. One of my favorite quotes sums up the wisdom behind this:

Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.”

-Charles H. Spurgeon

Some may wonder what the last phrase has to do with wellness, and personally I believe it is vitally important (and apparently so did Spurgeon since he tacked it on there), so I included it. Regardless of how you feel about God, however, the sentiment is to not even begin a habit change that you can’t commit to long-term. Find changes that work with your lifestyle, not against it.

fighting, clawing, and scratching

Recognize that temporary habit changes create temporary results.  You can tweak them, change them, or adjust to the fluidity of life as needed, but if your habit changes disappear completely, so will the fruits of your labors.

Key #2: After you’ve met your goals

You’ve done it, congratulations! You’ve met your goal! You’ve placed a new brick in the healthy foundation upon which you can continue building the life you want. Guess what? You’re not done! If you want to continue to enjoy the benefits of your progress, you must grab hold of the second key to long-term success:

Always have a goal and a sustainable plan to achieve it.

Achieving a goal merits celebration, and also the exciting task of deciding what your next goal will be. It doesn’t have to be intense – your goal could be maintenance and your plan might be walking – but you need to have both or you’ll watch all your hard work and health benefits slip away. Living a healthy life is swimming upstream in our culture – you can not coast into good health.

So what’s next for Charlie and me?

My new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength and muscular endurance (I want to be able to do 10 pull-ups or rock climb for an hour without getting pooped).

My new plan: Mindful, intuitive eating along with 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 times weekly, and 10-20 minutes of yoga 5 days per week.

Charlie’s new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength (he wants to be able to save people from burning buildings and stuff).

Charlie’s new plan: My Fitness Pal (with his calorie and macronutrient needs adjusted since he’s building muscle now), 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 days per week, and 10-15 minutes of yoga before each workout as well as a longer practice twice weekly.

Have a goal of your own but need help finding a sustainable plan that fits your lifestyle? Contact me or schedule an appointment to start building a healthy foundation for the life you want!

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2002-021480
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.134/full
  3. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/412650
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2004.61/full
  5. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/53/5/1124.short
  6. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2613427, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/5/579.short
  7. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.short

Our three months on the Goal-Getter Package is complete! The Goal-Getter package is a package I provide that is designed to help my clients meet 3-month health and wellness goals. Since my husband and I both had goals for the New Year, we each started our own Goal-Getter package and we’ve been sharing the journey with you. Click here to read about it from the beginning. The common cold ran rampant through our house during the time we were supposed to complete our post-program assessment, so we’re a tad late, but here it is!

Did we achieve our goals? How far did we come? The Goal-Getter package includes pre- and post-measurements of body composition and cardiovascular health, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Read on to see how ours changed in the last 3 months!

Becki

  January 2017 March 2017
Resting pulse Elevated Normal
Resting BP Elevated Normal
Weight +7 lbs from my usual +0-3 from my usual (fluctuates)
Body Mass Index Normal Normal
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Average Average
Cardiovascular fitness Fair Good
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Very Good

 

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
     • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.

How I did: For the first two months, the food group checklists worked well and I (mostly) stuck to using them. I lost 5 of the 7 lbs in the first month and then stalled out for month 2. To make sure I wasn’t inadvertently missing my nutritional goals with the food group checklists (which, by nature, are not as detailed as complete tracking), I started using My Fitness Pal to track my intakes for the last month. I also conceded that it’s possible my body just wasn’t going to lost the last two pounds – it has been about a year or two since I’ve weighed that much. As it turns out, I lost  somewhere from 4-7 lbs total, as I’m noticing my weight tends to fluctuate about that much. I’m calling it a win!

Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
     • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week

How I did: I’m most happy about achieving my goals with these numbers since they are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease! Doing the exercise was easier than I expected when I found the types of cardio I most enjoy. On rainy winter days, I have loved following cardio dance videos from Youtube…they are free and perfect for fitting your schedule in the comfort of your home. My standby favorite is The Fitness Marshall, but there are dozens of choices out there to spice it up with variety. As the weather improves, I’ll spend more time outside playing basketball, hiking, swimming, and kayaking. I definitely want to make sure to keep up these improvements!

Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles
     • Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week

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How I did: I was so impressed with the improvements in my posture! Yoga has been rocking my posture world (follow me on Instagram @dietitianonadiet to see what kind of yoga antics I’m up to – I do an Instagram yoga challenge about once a month). My chest, back, and hips feel so fluid and you can see the difference throughout the three months in my progress photo. My flexibility assessment also improved! It is amazing how much movement we lock up when we sit too much and don’t move. I definitely have work to do still in my chest and shoulders, which are stubbornly remaining tight, so that’s next on my list!

Charlie

  January 2017 March 2017
Resting pulse Normal Normal
Resting BP Normal Normal
Weight +15 lbs from his usual +0 lbs from his usual
Body Mass Index Overweight Overweight (remember how BMI doesn’t account for muscle mass?)
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Poor Fair
Cardiovascular fitness Excellent Excellent/Superior (right on the line)
Muscular endurance (push-up) Good Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Excellent

 

Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
     • Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.

How he did: He lost 15 lbs, so he didn’t quite hit the 20 lb goal but he did return to his previous normal body weight. His clothes fit, he has more energy, and he didn’t have to buy new pants! My Fitness Pal worked great for him, and he continues to use it to keep himself on track.

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Oh, and check this out…

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Helloooooooo, wedding pants! And lookin’ handsome…might be time for a date night!

Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
     • Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.

How he did: Charlie did great – and he bumped his cardiovascular endurance from “Excellent” to between “Excellent” and “Superior.” He’ll take it! Charlie nearly completed the P90X workout program, but reached a point where he was satisfied with his cardio and his weight, and opted to shift to a plan that involved more weight lifting about halfway through the last month. Charlie loves having more endurance and he feels great!

Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
     • Do some yoga each day.

How he did: Charlie ended up compromising on this goal to do yoga only 2-3 times per week since P90X incorporates stretching into every workout. Sometimes he did yoga more often, sometimes less, but  he smashed his goal and can reach farther on the sit-and-reach box than I can now!

Overall, we had fun and are so excited about meeting our goals. If you’d like to meet some goals of your own, give me a call at 360.358.3179 or schedule an appointment on my website! I would love to help you build the healthy foundation for the life you want!