You know the ins and outs of how to lose body fat, but the real question is — how do you keep it off? Certified strength and conditioning specialist Sohee Lee (@soheefit on Instagram) posted this graphic to share the four things you need to do not only to lose weight in a sustainable way but also to maintain the new, leaner, healthier you.
Like the Way You Eat
Even if you're trying to lose fat, you still need to eat a moderate number of calories. Going too low isn't sustainable, because you'll be hangry, which can lead to bingeing later. Also, low-energy levels can heighten cravings and make it impossible to exercise. So never dip below 1,200 calories.
Aside from eating enough calories, Sohee suggests aiming for adequate protein to help satisfy hunger. Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods you love, so that eating healthy is easy and sustainable.
"Incorporate some of your favorite treats into your diet" in order to satiate cravings, Sohee says. Remember, "you may not always be able to control what you eat, but you can always control how much. Portion control is your friend."
Registered dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition, agrees and told POPSUGAR, "Balance is best, 80 percent good food, 20 percent fun." Take care of yourself, eat healthy foods most of the time, and make sure to leave a little room for indulging so you don't feel like you're missing out.
Like Your Workouts
Find a way to exercise that makes you feel excited, energized, and confident, something that challenges you and makes you want to keep doing it. Hate running? Skip it. Feel self-conscious in a huge gym? Work out at home. Like being social? Join a CrossFit community. To beat boredom, mix up your workouts every day by branching out to try new fitness classes or workout styles.
Your fitness routine should consist of strength training at least twice a week (Jillian Michaels suggests four times a week for fat loss) and joint-friendly cardio to keep your heart healthy. Sohee said, "Lifting weights will help build lean body mass, but stay active in other ways as well. Yoga, walking, tennis — find a physical activity that you enjoy and look forward to, and perform it often." If you enjoy it, your exercise habit will be easy to maintain.
Have Regular Check-Ins
Sohee says, "Frequent self-monitoring is an important strategy because it provides feedback that allows you to modify your behaviors accordingly." No need to step on the scale every week, or ever, if it gives you anxiety. You can take monthly progress pics, keep a weight-loss journal to track your workouts and how you feel, or assess how your clothes fit.
Manage Sleep and Stress
"Keeping your stress levels in check and prioritizing sleep are crucial and often overlooked components of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep in particular is a keystone habit that impacts everything else in your day-to-day life," Sohee says.
Sleep affects levels of the hunger-regulating hormone leptin, which helps your body realize it's full, and ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Stress triggers the production of cortisol, a stress hormone linked to an increased appetite and more belly fat, which is why cravings fire up when we're tired. So managing these two are essential.
Self-care is so important, and it doesn't just mean taking bubble baths, getting a massage, and sleeping seven to nine hours a night. You also want to find healthy ways to relax each day, find joy, and take some down time.
Take 10 minutes to listen to music, read your favorite book, or do this tension-melting yoga sequence. Self-care also means knowing when to say no, so you're not stretching yourself too thin. Sohee added, "let good enough be good enough."