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Keep it steady

You finally did it. After months of dieting, huffing and puffing around the local jogger’s park, you achieved your target ideal weight. But soon, you were putting your morning-jog alarm on snooze and celebrating your weight loss with an extra helping of dessert. Before you knew it, the bulges were back and you had more than an inch to pinch.

Few things are more frustrating than regaining the weight you struggled to lose. “Maintaining weight is tougher than losing it,” says nutritionist Hena Nafis.

If you’re one of those who’ve struggled with obesity and shed copious amounts of weight, or lost weight by following the latest fad diet, don’t assume that it’s going to be easy to stay that way. Be prepared to face many challenges — but chin-up and with a positive attitude.

MAKE A START

Since nothing can be worse than relapsing to your original weight, there’s plenty you can do to ward it off. Go into maintenance mode. For one, it’s imperative to regularly keep a tab on your weight. While fitness experts believe that it’s okay if there are mild fluctuations on the scale, anything radical should set the alarms bells ringing.

The trick to prevent regaining the weight you’ve lost lies in ‘never’ going back to your previous lifestyle. So, just don’t stop doing the things that helped you take it off in the first place. When you decide to lose weight, you make a conscious decision to change your lifestyle and that includes your exercise routine and diet. You have to say a firm ‘no’ to your — perhaps unhealthy — previous lifestyle and stoically adhere to the new.

DIET CONTROL

Maintaining your weight is doable and entails eating less food or burning more calories. Eat small, and that too low-fat foods. Keeping off the pounds you lost requires a lifestyle change in which you maintain disciplined eating habits and an exercise routine.

The first thing to remember is that muscle weighs more than fat. So, when people go on a weight loss spree without proper guidance they end up losing more muscle than fat. The scales may show that they’ve lost ‘weight’ and they may look thinner, but they still retain a lot of fat.

The problem with losing muscle is that it slows your metabolism. “So the moment you’re a bit lax, you don’t just put on one or two kilos — you put on loads of weight,” says fitness expert Ranadeep Moitra. Hence, the first thing you need to do to maintain your weight is to rev up your metabolism.

In terms of diet, three factors need to be kept in mind to raise metabolic rate — the timing, portions and composition of your meals. “Eat something every two-and-a-half to three hours — that’s three meals and three snacks,” says Preetom Mukherjee Roy, fitness and nutrition advisor at Gold’s Gym, Alipore. Eating smaller portions of food makes it easier to digest. To build muscle, the diet should consist of 50 per cent carbohydrates, 25 per cent to 30 per cent protein and 20 per cent to 25 per cent fat, says Moitra.

For breakfast, says Roy, have proteins and carbohydrates — an egg and a slice of multigrain toast or muesli with milk. Have a combination of protein (cottage cheese or grilled chicken), raw salad, cooked greens and carbohydrates (roti or rice) for lunch and dinner. To figure out the portions, Roy tells his clients to divide the standard 10-in plate into four equal parts, one for each type of food.

Two reward meals a week are permissible. A single one of these translates into a starter, an entree and a dessert — that could be some garlic bread and cheese, pizza, a brownie and coffee.

Anwar Wahhab, strength coach and owner, Awe Fitness, suggests you opt for grilled fish or chicken and a green salad while eating out. “Get plenty of sleep,” he adds, as it releases the hormone leptin, which suppresses appetite.

Say no to alcohol as that might also result in some extra eating and snacking.

WORK ON IT

Establishing a regular exercise routine is also important. A slow metabolic rate increases chances of gaining back weight. Building muscle is imperative for raising metabolism. Moitra emphasises the need for more intense training, with multi-joint exercises that focus on the muscles. You could either raise the number of repetitions or the weights, while keeping the workout time constant.

For men wanting to maintain their weight, Sumana Dutta Burman, fitness expert, Karma Gym, recommends a one-hour workout four days a week. For women 45 minutes will suffice. Since they need to develop their muscles without looking muscular, women should train their whole body during the workout. This would include both upper and lower body exercises (different ones on separate days), punctuated by high-intensity cardio.

Toning the body after weight loss is another job at hand. Yoga is a good option for this. Dibyasundar Das of the World Yoga Society recommends the uttanpadasana (lie on your back and raise your legs at a 30 degree angle and hold the position for five to 10 counts) to tone abdominal muscles.

Another exercise, the uddiyana in savasana (a prone, relaxed posture) entails exhaling and then pulling in your abdomen for five to 10 counts. Repeat this 10 times daily for great looking abs.

If you want to keep the old bulges at bay, it’s worth going that extra mile to maintain the new you.

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