After you've lost the pounds you set out to lose and achieved your fitness goal, the next step is maintaining weight. The work doesn't stop after you've reached your goal. However, making the transition doesn't have to be difficult. You'll continue following many of the same guidelines as you did while you were actively losing weight. Here's how to transition from losing weight to maintaining your weight.
Figure out Your Calorie Needs
When you're in weight loss mode, you're looking to cut back on calories. Now that you're simply trying to maintain your weight you loosen up a little. It's important to figure out how many calories (approximately) your body needs to stay at your current weight. There are a number of free calorie calculators available online to calculate this number for you (check out FitDay.com). By entering in your height, age, current weight and activity level, the calculator will give you a number. Use this as a guideline in determining how much you need to exercise each week (and whether you can go back to indulging in that daily Starbucks Mocha).
Keep Eating Healthy, but Ease Up
Depending on how much you exercised during your weight loss process, you probably consumed anywhere between 1,200 and 1,800 calories per day. When you're maintaining your weight you can feel free to eat more, but within reason. It's a good idea to continue with your healthy eating habits formed during the weight loss process. Still focus on eating mostly clean foods like fruit, vegetables and lean meats, and avoid eating junk foods and empty calories. What you eat has more of an effect on your weight than anything else. Keeping your diet healthy overall gives you wiggle room to enjoy a dessert a couple of times a week without adding to your middle section.
Scale Back on the Workouts
Now that you're trying to maintain your weight you can scale back both the number and the intensity of the workouts. Going to the gym six days a week isn't really a necessity anymore. While it will depend on your personal preference, you can hit the gym several days a week and find less intense ways to be active on the days you don't go (like taking evening walks). It's important to stay active on some level in order to maintain your weight. However, watching what you eat is the more critical component to your maintenance efforts.
Keep the Healthy State of Mind
Above anything else, the most important thing you can do as you're transitioning from losing weight to maintaining weight is to think of the entire process as a lifestyle change. You didn't make it this far to go back to your old ways. Make the commitment to yourself to put your health first. You'll continue to live the way you did when you were trying to lose weight (exercising, eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep) but with less rigor.
It may take a little trial and error until you find the right balance of exercise and revised eating habits. With a little work you'll figure out what you need to be doing to maintain your weight.