We often talk about how to get to your fitness goals, but that's only half the battle. Once you reach the endpoint, you still need to maintain it, or you're going to end up right where you started.
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What you do once you've reached your goals depends on how you got there. If you took the gradual approach, by slowly adjusting your lifestyle and habits, it's far easier. That's because you've integrated the changes into your life, so to stay there all you need to do is maintain it (sorry, there's no getting out of it!)
But that's not the way for everyone. Whether you went on a drastic calorie-reduced diet, attempted an extreme fitness challenge, or tried a juice "cleanse" (which, by the way, are terrible ways to lose weight), some methods just can't be sustained for life. So how can you keep these results without killing yourself in the process?
First off, it's key that you understand that the more extreme the method, the less likely you are to fully retain the results. Acknowledge this, and don't be angry with yourself if you see yourself slip back a bit. Beating yourself up will only damage your motivation in the future.
Then, start to make changes based on the strategy you used to get where you are:
- If you've gone on a restrictive diet, estimate your new maintenance calorie intake, and slowly edge up your intake closer to that target until your weight stabilizes.
- If you've undergone an intense exercise program, like P90X or Insanity, start to wind back on the frequency and replace a few of the workouts with gentler exercises to avoid injury. Also scale back your calorie intake to compensate for the calories you aren't burning.
Finally, be patient. As with anything in fitness, you need to make gradual changes — essentially the strategy is to make the lifestyle fixes you skipped over in the first place.
But no matter which route you chose, reaching your goal is no reason to stop completely.
As with anything in life, fitness is about growth, and maintaining the desire to improve yourself is as important as keeping the tangible results. Find new goals, build yourself up further, and continue to strive for improvement. That's the best way to stay successful.