Move to main­tain weight

The Timaru Herald - - WELL&GOOD - LEE SUCKLING

Reach­ing a weight you’re happy with doesn’t mean you can slack off. To main­tain a par­tic­u­lar weight, you need to work out (and watch what you eat) just as much as when try­ing to lose (or gain) some kilo­grams.

When we think of car­dio, we think of weight loss. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar ac­tiv­ity – whether it’s walk­ing, run­ning, cy­cling, row­ing, or any other form – is nec­es­sary for ev­ery­body who wants to main­tain a cer­tain weight, too.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fram­ing­ton Heart Study, which is a long-term, on­go­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar co­hort study that be­gan in 1948 and is cur­rently in its third gen­er­a­tion of par­tic­i­pants, those who suc­cess­fully main­tain their weight long-term in­cor­po­rate two key el­e­ments into their life.

Es­sen­tial is one hour or more ev­ery day of ‘‘mod­er­ate in­ten­sity’’ ac­tiv­ity, which will burn 2000-3000 calo­ries each week as ex­er­cise.

Long-term weight main­tain­ers also in­cor­po­rate a sig­nif­i­cant amount of ad-hoc phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity into their days, like tak­ing the stairs, vac­u­um­ing the house, and so on.

Mod­er­ate in­ten­sity car­dio is any­thing from a brisk walk or light cy­cle up­wards. It doesn’t have to all be at once – you could do two 30-minute ses­sions a day, but you do have to do them ev­ery day to main­tain that weight.

You needn’t do car­dio to main­tain your weight, how­ever. You can do strength train­ing with weights, or – per­haps most ide­ally – al­ter­nate be­tween this and car­dio.

Strength train­ing en­ables you to main­tain a lean mus­cle mass and this keeps your me­tab­o­lism func­tion­ing at a high rate. When this is hap­pen­ing, you burn off en­ergy faster in­stead of stor­ing it as fat.

And for those wor­ried about ‘‘bulk­ing up’’, make no mis­take: a few of days of weight train­ing per week is not go­ing to turn you into a body­builder.

Find­ings over the last seven decades from the Fram­ing­ton Study (and other sim­i­lar, longterm stud­ies) also pro­vide us with help­ful life­style tips on main­tain­ing weight.

Im­por­tant is weigh­ing your­self on a weekly ba­sis. The ob­jec­tive here is not to worry over any small weight gain – peo­ple gen­er­ally fluc­tu­ate up to one kilo­gram depend­ing on the time of day, and vol­ume of food and liq­uid con­sumed/elim­i­nated any­way.

In­stead, it’s to keep tabs on your weight and make ad­just­ments to your nu­tri­tional and ex­er­cise needs if you see a week-on-week trend up­ward or down­ward.

Peo­ple who main­tain the same weight through­out their lives also watch less than 16 hours of tele­vi­sion a week, which lends evenings to other kinds of ac­tiv­i­ties that will burn more en­ergy – even if it’s only slightly – than sit­ting on a couch.

In case you need the maths done for you, that means you should max out at two hours in front of the box a day.

Those who suc­cess­fully main­tain their weight also main­tain a so­cial sup­port net­work of like-minded peo­ple.

If you do away with the sup­port sys­tem that helped you get to your goal weight – whether that was a friend in the same sit­u­a­tion, or a for­mal pro­gramme like Weight Watch­ers – it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Sta­tis­ti­cally, those who keep those so­cial con­tact cir­cles in place are less likely to re­gain any weight lost than those who don’t.

This ap­proach also ap­plies to your diet. Once you’re happy with your weight, to main­tain it you must make your di­etary changes part of your reg­u­lar life­style.

This is one rea­son why health pro­fes­sion­als do not ad­vo­cate ‘‘cleanses’’ and other fad di­et­ing tech­niques. They’re just not sus­tain­able in the long term.

You needn’t be as strict with your­self for weight main­te­nance as you must for weight loss or gain. You are al­lowed to treat your­self: one slice of choco­late cake isn’t go­ing to cause your weight to change.

How­ever, you should ap­ply the same gen­eral di­etary con­cept that works for you into your daily life. It could be high pro­tein/low carb, Mediter­ranean, veg­e­tar­ian, or some­thing else. The point is stick­ing with it so it doesn’t feel like a diet – it’s ‘‘just the way you eat’’.

Lee Suckling has a masters de­gree spe­cial­is­ing in per­sonal health re­port­ing. Do you have a health topic you’d like Lee to in­ves­ti­gate? Send us an email to­fax­me­ with Dear Lee in the sub­ject line.


Car­dio ex­er­cise is nec­es­sary to man­age your weight.


Bal­ance ex­er­cises will help you with sta­bil­ity and re­duce the risk of falls.

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