Christmas Challenge Weight Loss Tips

Tips below are to help you maintain the new slim you once you've got to the weight you want to be.

Keep Eating Healthily

What you do to stay slim is just as important as what you did to get slim. If you return to your old way of eating, then you can expect to return to your old weight - after all, it was those eating habits that caused you to gain the weight in the first place.

The key to staying slim is to carry on eating the same healthy diet that helped you shift the pounds. That means having a low-fat, high-fibre diet containing five portions of fruit and veg every day.

Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast doesn't just help you lose weight by keeping hunger at bay. It's also particularly important for keeping the weight off.

Data from the US National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a large on-going study that monitors the habits of successful slimmers, shows that 80 percent of those who keep the weight off eat breakfast every day. Go for wholegrain cereals with skimmed milk, or a boiled egg, with wholegrain toast and fruit or fruit juice most of the time.

Keep Up Those Good Habits

Slipping back into old ways such as having biscuits with coffee, nibbling on cheese while you cook and grabbing a bag of crisps every night on your way home from work, will soon pile on the pounds. Remember those habits you changed to lose weight - and stick to your new behaviour.

Portion Size Matters

Continuing to control your portion sizes is still important if you want to keep your new, svelte figure. Obviously, super sizing your McDonalds meal or opting for the stuffed crust 12" pizza is out.

But you still need to control the amount of 'healthy' foods you eat like muesli, pasta and rice. As a golden rule, once you've lost weight you should fill a third of your plate with veg or salad, a third with starchy foods like potato or pasta, and the remaining third with protein-rich foods like meat, fish or chicken.

Enjoy a Little of What You Fancy

The key word here is 'little'! If you want to stay slim, you'll need to keep a close watch on the number of treats you eat. Treating yourself to an extra three large glasses of wine, a chocolate bar, a bag of crisps and a Danish pastry every week - which is easily done - could mean you end up 1.5 stone heavier in a year!

Instead, find treats that don't involve food. A chat with a friend, an extra half hour in bed or a facial will help to lift your mood, make you feel special - and are calorie-free.

Figure Out a Good Calorie Intake For You

Knowing just how many calories you should have each day to keep your weight steady is a matter of trial and error, but on average most women need around 1,900 to 2,000 calories a day, while for men it's between 2,500 to 2,600 calories daily.

It's also important to bear in mind is that you will probably need fewer calories once you've lost weight than before you started dieting. This is because the heavier you are, the more calories you use up each day as it takes more energy to move around.

Once you've lost weight, you need less energy to move with the result that you need fewer calories to maintain your new lower weight. For example, a 35-year-old moderately active woman who has dropped from 12st to 11st needs, on average, 109 calories less each day to maintain her new weight.

It's really up to you whether you decide to increase your calorie intake in one go or to do it in steps by gradually increasing your portion sizes of the foods you're already eating rather than suddenly adding in chocolate, crisps, booze and takeaways. I recommend this five-step plan:

Step 1:

Once you reach target weight, add 250 calories a day to your existing daily calorie intake. This means if you've been having 1,250 calories each day, you should now have 1,500 calories a day.

Step 2:

After a week, weigh yourself on your usual scales. You'll probably have lost a little more weight. If so, add another 250 calories to last week's daily allowance. So, if you were having 1,500 calories a day, now have 1,750 calories daily.

Step 3:

After another week, weigh yourself again. If you've lost more weight, add an extra 250 calories to your daily intake, for example from 1,750 calories to 2,000 calories each day.

Step 4:

After another week, if your weight has stabilised that's the amount of calories you need each day to keep your new slim shape. If you've gained a tiny amount, drop your daily calorie intake by 100 calories, for example, from 2,000 calories to 1,900 calories daily.

After a week, weigh yourself again. If your weight has stayed the same, that's the amount of calories you need each day for weight maintenance. If your weight has gone up or down, juggle your daily calorie intake by 50 calories a day until your weight eventually stabilises.

Step 5:

Weigh yourself once a week on your usual scales until you are confident that you're maintaining your weight.

Use It or Lose It

Now you have a hot bod, you need to keep using it. Slipping back into lazy habits from the past can have a big impact on your waistline over time. For example, you only need to replace your daily 15-minute fast walk with jumping in the car and you could find yourself 1/2st heavier in a year! It's absolutely crucial that you maintain an active lifestyle if you want to keep those pounds off.

And there's no easier way to do it than by walking according to NWCR data, which shows that people who stay slim walk twice as far as those who don't.

It's also important to make exercise fun and vary your activities so that you don't get bored. Every so often pick a new class or sport to try such as martial arts, Pilates, even pole dancing!

Get Some Attitude

If you can't believe this new slim person is you, then chances are it won't be for long. So get used to your new shape and start celebrating it. The mind is one of the most vital pieces of equipment when it comes to staying slim - if you don't believe you'll keep those pounds off, you probably won't. So think positive.

Enjoy the New, Slim You

While it might seem a daunting task at first, with time you should find keeping your sexy shape is a piece of cake. More than 40 percent of NWCR slimmers found staying slim easier than getting slim. But best of all, they also said keeping it off got easier and more enjoyable with time!

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