For dietary and exercise changes to be sustainable in the long-term, they need to be part of your daily life.
It is important to be able to recognise patterns in your behaviour or cues from your day-to-day lifestyle that can lead you to over-eat or under-exercise. These may include:
- Stress management
- Identifying when you are more likely to over-eat or eat high energy foods
- Paying attention to your appetite and only eating when hungry
- Making sure you are eating appropriate portion sizes
- Keeping your meal patterns regular
- Not skipping meals
It is important to set yourself both realistic long-term goals and short-term strategies to achieve these goals. This can help you find motivation to assist you in losing weight and sustaining weight loss in the long-term. Choosing a short-term strategy that you feel confident in achieving is an important first step to making your lifestyle more healthy. Being able to identify barriers to exercise and healthy eating habits (e.g. social barriers, time constraints and unrealistic expectations) is also important to allow you to develop your own techniques to overcome these barriers.
Social support is also an important factor in keeping focused and motivated. Weight loss groups can provide a group environment to support long-term weight maintenance. Encouraging healthy lifestyle changes to be a part of the life of your whole family is also important. This will help in both improving the diet and exercise patterns of your partner and children and in your family supporting each other in healthy habits.
Monitoring your weight, diet or physical activity patterns (such as weighing yourself regularly or wearing a pedometer) can also help in keeping you informed about what you are doing and in helping you to identify problem areas to work on.
Long-term sustained changes in weight are most likely when behaviours change long-term. These may include small achievable steps one at a time, for example:
- Reducing portion sizes
- Reducing snacks
- Avoiding soft drinks and juice
- Changing to low-fat dairy foods
- Setting goals (e.g. weight maintenance or a five per cent decrease in weight)
- Incorporating an extra ten minutes of activity into every day (30 minutes daily is the current recommendation)