Cue up some fizzy drinks and dramatic music, because I’m about to yank the curtain back on the secret to lifelong weight maintenance. Is it shocking? No. Big and impressive? Ha. It’s boring. As in, 100% guaranteed not to go viral.
It’s something we routinely overlook in search of the latest trending fast fix. And it’s called “consistency.”
Consistency is the “secret” that begets weight maintenance miracles. Consistently weighing yourself. Consistently keeping a food log. Consistently exercising. Consistently eating the right amount according to the food plan which works for you. Consistently showing up for yourself in all these ways, day in and day out. Not very exciting. But robustly effective.
Consistent practice of anything leads to improved skills, perspective on one’s performance, and insight into which factors affect the outcome. It’s no different with weight maintenance. The longer you’re at it, the better you’ll become, and the more information you’ll collect about yourself and your body, which will make it easier as time goes on.
Consistently repeating daily weight maintenance practices is also the key to habit formation, and habits are the bedrock underpinning your fledging identity as a thin person. The longer you are consistent, the more deeply your new weight maintenance practices become ingrained. Eventually, you don’t need to think about them anymore. They’ve become your habits, and they’re now part of who you are.
To be effective, consistency does not require perfection in execution, only regularity. Let’s use exercise as an example. You reap benefits even if you can’t execute perfectly, as long as you execute regularly. You may not have time for your whole workout one day. Does that mean you should just skip it? No, it means you do what you can, perhaps a short but higher intensity workout instead. It still counts, and your efforts will add up. It may not make a difference by tomorrow, but if you look in the mirror a year from now, your effort to consistently do what you could will be obvious, even if you didn’t go all out every single time. Consistency makes for cumulative (and eventually remarkable) improvement …and it’s much more sustainable than perfection.
The same principles apply to your food plan. Stay consistent no matter what day of the week it is or what time of year. When you grocery shop, buy the “right” food to support your food plan. Plan to complete food prep on the weekend, putting together your breakfasts and lunches for the week, or preparing entrees for the first few nights. Spend your money on high-quality ingredients you actually want to eat, not things you’re bored with or don’t like. Try new recipes to keep things interesting. But stick with what works for you.
And when life happens, find a way to stay true to yourself and your goals in every scenario. Did you switch jobs and now you’re always on the road? Pack a cooler, don’t refuel your body at a truck stop. Did your promotion lead to frequent lunches out with clients? Find a few different restaurants that have at least one option that’s suitable for you. If needed, call the general manager and discuss a standing order made to your dietary specifications. Most will be happy to accommodate repeat requests (aka revenue). Or, do you have children or teens that need your attention? Get them involved in prep (and cleanup) if it makes sense and will be helpful to you. Kids need to learn how to take care of their bodies, and when they see you doing it, they’ll model you. It tells them the same message you need to hear: “Your body is a vehicle, an instrument of the good you were put here to do. Take care of it. Consistently.”
The point is: when you have the will, you’ll find a way. If you don’t believe there’s a way to eat and exercise consistently, it means you still haven’t committed to maintaining your weight. Until you do, you’ll only see obstacles. You’ll make excuses. Excuses meant to justify consistently not taking care of yourself and reaching for the convenient rather than the healthful. Which will produce weight gain consistently, year after year. Which will produce unhappiness and health problems consistently, decade after decade. You already know the secret: consistency gets results.
Therefore, commit to consistency in the direction of building the habits you want, not the habits you don’t. Ask yourself….”How and where do I disappoint myself most consistently?” Is it at the coffee shop, when you go in “just for coffee” and end up with a mile-high muffin? Or the cafeteria? Or at home alone after dinner? Determine the environments that cue up the eating you want to stop. Then, like the apex predator you are, go right for the gusto! Don’t put up with daily deflation of your autonomy and self-respect. Take charge and make your health and happiness a priority.
Buy a coffee-maker and a thermos to eliminate the need to stop for coffee. Take your lunch to work and go for a walk to eat in the park. Call a friend or take a bath and go to bed early. Make just one of these simple changes at a time, and make it stick! Once you do, you’ll have exercised your little-known consistency muscle. Trust me, it’s like a gateway drug. You’ll realize you are capable of way more than you knew. And then, you’ll probably choose to change something else that’s been annoying you.
Get started today. Just a year or two from now, you’ll agree that something highly underrated called “consistency” can change your life, one habit at a time.