Preventing weight regain after obesity treatment
Unfortunately, it’s common to regain weight no matter what obesity treatment methods you try. If you take weight-loss medications, you’ll probably regain weight when you stop taking them. You might even regain weight after weight-loss surgery if you continue to overeat or overindulge in high-calorie foods or high-calorie beverages.
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One of the best ways to prevent regaining the weight you’ve lost is to get regular physical activity. Aim for 45 to 60 minutes a day.
Keep track of your physical activity if it helps you stay motivated and on course. As you lose weight and gain better health, talk to your doctor about what additional activities you might be able to do and, if appropriate, how to give your activity and exercise a boost.
You may always have to remain vigilant about your weight. Combining a healthier diet and more activity in a practical and sustainable manner is the best way to keep the weight you lost off for the long term.
Take your weight loss and weight maintenance one day at a time and surround yourself with supportive resources to help ensure your success. Find a healthier way of living that you can stick with for the long term.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Your effort to overcome obesity is more likely to be successful if you follow strategies at home in addition to your formal treatment plan. These can include:
- Learning about your condition. Education about obesity can help you learn more about why you developed obesity and what you can do about it. You may feel more empowered to take control and stick to your treatment plan. Read reputable self-help books and consider talking about them with your doctor or therapist.
- Setting realistic goals. When you have to lose a significant amount of weight, you may set goals that are unrealistic, such as trying to lose too much too fast. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Set daily or weekly goals for exercise and weight loss. Make small changes in your diet instead of attempting drastic changes that you’re not likely to stick with for the long haul.
- Sticking to your treatment plan. Changing a lifestyle you may have lived with for many years can be difficult. Be honest with your doctor, therapist or other health care professionals if you find your activity or eating goals slipping. You can work together to come up with new ideas or new approaches.
- Enlisting support. Get your family and friends on board with your weight-loss goals. Surround yourself with people who will support you and help you, not sabotage your efforts. Make sure they understand how important weight loss is to your health. You might also want to join a weight-loss support group.
- Keeping a record. Keep a food and activity log. This record can help you remain accountable for your eating and exercise habits. You can discover behaviour that may be holding you back and, conversely, what works well for you. You can also use your log to track other important health parameters such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels and overall fitness.
- Identifying and avoiding food triggers. Distract yourself from your desire to eat with something positive, such as calling a friend. Practice saying no to unhealthy foods and big portions. Eat when you’re actually hungry — not simply when the clock says it’s time to eat.
- Taking your medications as directed. If you take weight-loss medications or medications to treat obesity-related conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, take them exactly as prescribed. If you have a problem sticking with your medication regimen or have unpleasant side effects, talk to your doctor.
Numerous dietary supplements that promise to help you shed weight quickly are available. The effectiveness, particularly the long-term effectiveness, and safety of these products are often questionable.
Herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals, all considered dietary supplements by the Food and Drug Administration, don’t have the same rigorous testing and labeling process as over-the-counter and prescription medications do.
Yet some of these substances, including products labeled as “natural,” have drug-like effects that can be dangerous. Even some vitamins and minerals can cause problems when taken in excessive amounts. Ingredients may not be standard, and they can cause unpredictable and harmful side effects. Dietary supplements can also cause dangerous interactions with prescription medications you take. Talk to your doctor before taking any dietary supplements.
Coping and support
Talk to Dr Christopher about improving your coping skills and consider these tips to cope with obesity and your weight-loss efforts:
- Journal. Write in a journal to express pain, anger, fear or other emotions.
- Connect. Don’t become isolated. Try to participate in regular activities and get together with family or friends periodically.
- Join. Join a support group so that you can connect with others facing similar challenges.
- Focus. Stay focused on your goals. Overcoming obesity is an ongoing process. Stay motivated by keeping your goals in mind. Remind yourself that you’re responsible for managing your condition and working toward your goals.
- Relax. Learn relaxation and stress management. Learning to recognize stress and developing stress management and relaxation skills can help you gain control of unhealthy eating habits.
Preparing for your appointment
Talking to your doctor openly and honestly about your weight concerns is one of the best things you can do for your health.
What you can do
Being an active participant in your care is important. One way to do this is by preparing for your appointment. Think about your needs and goals for treatment. Also, write down a list of questions to ask. These questions may include:
- What eating or activity habits are likely contributing to my health concerns and weight gain?
- What can I do about the challenges I face in managing my weight?
- Do I have other health problems that are caused by obesity?
- Should I see a dietitian/nutritionist?
- Should I see a bariatric counselor with expertise in weight management?
- What are the treatment options for obesity and my other health problems?
- Is weight-loss intervention an option for me?
Be sure to let your doctor know about any medical conditions you have and about any prescription or over-the-counter medications, vitamins or supplements that you take.
What to expect from your doctor
During your appointment, your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions about your weight, eating, activity, mood and thoughts, and any symptoms you might have. You may be asked such questions as:
- How much did you weigh in high school?
- What life events may have been associated with weight gain?
- What and how much do you eat in a typical day?
- How much activity do you get in a typical day?
- During what periods of your life did you gain weight?
- What are the factors that you believe affect your weight?
- How is your daily life affected by your weight?
- What diets or treatments have you tried to lose weight?
- What are your weight-loss goals?
- Are you ready to make changes in your lifestyle to lose weight?
- What do you think might prevent you from losing weight?
What you can do in the meantime
If you have time before your scheduled appointment, you can help prepare for the appointment by keeping a diet diary for two weeks prior to the appointment and by recording how many steps you take in a day by using a step counter (pedometer).
You can also begin to make choices that will help you start to lose weight, including:
- Making healthy changes in your diet. Include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Begin to reduce portion sizes.
- Increasing your activity level. Try to get up and move around your home more frequently. Start gradually if you aren’t in good shape or aren’t used to exercising. Even a 10-minute daily walk can help. If you have any health conditions or are over a certain age — over 40 for men and over 50 for women — wait until you’ve talked to your doctor before you start a new exercise program.