Boom! – you’ve done it! Months and months, or possibly even years, of good choices, changed habits and a healthier lifestyle, then one day you realise you’re finally where you set out to be. You’ve lost weight, changed your shape and size. You’ve arrived!
But now what? You’ve reached your goal. What’s next?
If you’ve spent any time on the internet, reading health and fitness magazines or watching TV, you’d be forgiven for being a little worried about what comes next … it’s what the diet industry likes to call ‘the maintenance phase’, and the world is telling you it’s hard – really hard.
“The Real Weight Loss Battle: Keeping It Off”
“Maintaining Weight Loss – Why Is It So Hard?”
“Biggest Loser Study Proves Permanent Weight Loss is Impossible!”
So where to from here? After all, this goal of yours was a huge motivator – you had a target, something to work towards and something to achieve. Now you’ve crossed the line, what do you do next?
Do I keep trying to lose more weight?
Do I keep doing what I’m doing?
Can I just relax now and get back to the way I used to live?
Just for a minute let’s say you’ve been given a swanky new sports car. I’m not talking about a drive-off-the-lot family sedan here; I’m talking about a full-blown performance-tuned sports car. What’s the first thing you want to do? Take it for a spin, right? See how fast it can go, how well it handles – you know, see what it’s capable of.
Maybe cars aren’t your thing, maybe it’s a new top-of-the-line ‘something’ you’ve always wanted. Now imagine your new body is that new something. Aren’t you just a little curious about what you’re capable of? Don't you want to take it for a ‘test drive’?
My point with this is that you can’t just stop. Permanent weight loss requires permanent change, and maintaining that weight loss can’t be simply a ‘phase’. That’s a dieting mindset, and we already know diets don’t work.
Remember all those alarming headlines I mentioned before? They’re born out of changes people didn’t, or couldn’t, maintain.
If you’ve already lost weight and you’re wondering what’s next, the answer might just be that you need to shift your focus. Forget about weight loss and forget about trying to maintain the status quo. Ignore the so-called ‘maintenance phase’ and start thinking about improvement. Let’s see what this new body of yours is capable of. Start setting yourself performance-based goals.
When you shift your focus to performance-based goals you give yourself an infinite number of new challenges. See, there’s a finite amount of weight any of us can lose but there will always be a new performance-based challenge you can set for yourself.
Examples of performance-based goals
Strength: Our bodies are continuously adapting to the environment we place them in. If we do nothing, we lose muscle mass, we get weaker and our health deteriorates. When we get stronger, we get healthier. So work on improving your strength and find new ways to progress.
Speed: Has walking or running been part of your weight loss success? Consider setting yourself some speed-based targets, or maybe start training to run or walk your first 5k/10k/25k. If your usual walk or run is easier than it used to be, it’s a good sign you’re ready to kick things up a notch.
Sports: There’s a good chance you grew up playing some form of sport. Ever thought about getting back out amongst the action? Or maybe trying an entirely new sport? Sports are a great way to improve speed, strength and agility. The learning curve might be steep when you’re getting started, but really this just creates countless opportunities for improvement.
Flexibility: Exercises like yoga and Pilates can be heavily stereotyped but there’s no denying the benefits they bring to your overall health, from improved flexibility and balance to increased strength and range of motion.
You might have already lost weight but that doesn’t mean you’re done. Remember, healthy doesn’t come with an end date, so forget about maintenance and fall in love with progress.
I’m Shane, a 30-something guy from Wellington, New Zealand. I started my mission to health in 2012 weighing in at 127kgs. I set up my blog 127kgs to share the weight loss and fitness tips that worked for me while I figured out how to lose 60kg in two years. No Diets. No Pills. No Gyms. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about food, fitness, myself and others. I hope my experiences – both my wins and my failures – can help you reach your goals too. Find me on Facebook.