This is a key point that differs from many diet programs currently out there. Many diets require you to follow different phases with different levels of calories. Often there's an induction phase, or a time when you restrict foods (or even entire food groups) and drastically lower calories. After that, dieters then begin to add foods and calories back into the diet, finally getting to a "maintenance phase" where they eat more calories than they did at the beginning of the diet.
But, what the NWCR tells us is that these weight losers continue to follow the same diet both during the weight loss process as well as after they've lost the weight. The bottom line is that there really is no difference in behaviors from beginning weight loss and maintaining weight loss except perhaps readjusting exercise and calories to keep the weight in check. This is probably the most important lesson we can learn from the NWCR: There is no end to healthy habits when it comes to maintaining weight loss. That's why it's so important to change habits slowly and choose activities you can see you're self doing for the long-term.
Creating Your Self-Monitoring Habit
Tracking your progress doesn't have to be about getting on the scale every day, although you can do that if it works for you. There are any number of ways to monitor yourself and make sure you aren't drifting too far away from your healthy habits, which is very easy to do if you're not paying attention. Some options include:
- Keeping a food journal. Knowing you have to write down what you're eating makes you think twice about your choices.
- Keeping an exercise journal. Looking back to see how many workouts you've done can be a great motivator and it can also help you decide when it's time to change your program.
- Taking your measurements. The scale won't always reflect the changes in your body and tell you whether you're gaining muscle and losing fat. Measurements can tell you if you're losing inches, which is a sure sign you're on the right track.
- Testing your body fat. Body fat percentage is often a more useful number than what you see on a scale because a scale can't tell you if you're losing water, fat or, worse, muscle. If you're a gym member, you can often get this tested for free by fitness professionals but, if you don't have access to a body fat test, taking your measurements works too.
More ways to track your progress.
Successful Weight Loss Habit No. 1: Exercise
Successful Weight Loss Habit No. 2: Eating a Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Diet
Successful Weight Loss Habit No. 3: Self-Monitoring
Successful Weight Loss Habit No. 4: Being Consistent