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Weight Maintenance versus weight loss

By By Lisa Bourne

2013 is here! Wow, it seems like time is moving at warp speed. Carnival fever is in the air and 2013 is an early carnival year. The crowds around the savannah, the various training centres, gyms and parks have increased twofold. The general trend of conversations all around is one of weight loss: "I need to lose 10 pounds", "My abs must be showing in the next 4 weeks" all of which is consistent with what most popular diet and exercise programs tend to focus on - weight loss rather than weight maintenance. The truth is, once you set your mind to losing weight, it is relatively easy ( but not for everyone). But as great as it feels to reach your weight loss goal, transitioning to weight maintenance can be sometimes harder than losing the weight. My goal at this stage is one of weight maintenance and being a carnival enthusiast, I have found that maintaining a consistent exercise routine throughout the year, makes it so much easier to realise your goal when an event rolls around, whether it be carnival or summer.

Weight training is one of the strategies incorporated into my training program for weight maintenance. Weight training has always been my favourite form of exercise and I have been doing it for a number of years. I won't mention how many years in this article (smile), but it has definitely helped me with weight maintenance. This, together with a relatively healthy diet of unprocessed carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potatoes, yams) and lean proteins (e.g. fish) has allowed me to keep my body fat at a stable level. Don't get me wrong, I do gain a few pounds here and there, but generally it is very easy to shave off the pounds when the need arises. Simone, my personal trainer featured here, incorporates functional exercises, cardiovascular training and weight training in my routines, a combination which gives me the desired effect. Over the years, through trial and error, I have discovered what works for my body type.

Having said that, learning your body type and what works for it is another strategy for maintaining your weight. We are all unique – our body types vary in shape, height, size. What may work for one body type may not work for another. Recently Dr Oz featured an episode on his show revolving around the different body types. He focused on the apple and pear shaped body types – those who store fat in their bellies and those who store fat in the butt and hip areas. In that regard, he discussed the various strategies for achieving weight loss and increasing metabolism to achieve weight loss and/or weight maintenance. Some of the strategies featured are surprising and unexpected. Some are pretty easy and straightforward, like recalculating your calorie needs- range and recognising why you store fat in the places that you do. He also discussed the effect of the hormones cortisol and estrogen on the body and the factors which cause such hormones to deposit fat in the areas that they do. You can view Dr Oz's episode "Turbo Charge Your Metabolism for Your Body Type" (Nov, 05, 2012 episode) online to learn more about the various strategies used to combat the effect of hormones on the body and for increasing your metabolism at www.doctoroz.com.

Patrice and I had a one on one conversation, chatting about how much dedication it takes to be consistent in fitness. With our goals of weight maintenance and in Patrice's case, lean muscle mass gain, persons may assume that it's no big deal for us since losing weight is not a priority. Patrice says one strategy she uses where her diet is concerned is after a hard workout, usually in the morning for her, she drinks a protein shake or ensures her breakfast has sufficient protein like boiled eggs together with a toast for example. As Simone mentioned to me, research has shown that the supplementation of protein or amino acids following a resistance training bout results in a net positive protein balance that enables skeletal muscle hypertrophy to take place. The combination of carbohydrate post exercise as well helps to restore glycogen after an exhaustive workout session. Patrice got the thumbs up!

Overall, different skill sets and behaviors are involved with weight loss and weight maintenance. For example, eating healthy and lowering your calorie intake will help you lose weight initially, but this strategy may not always work for weight maintenance. Keeping the weight off requires a change in behaviours with respect to the relationship with food and exercise. Eating healthily and following a consistent exercise routine, and sticking with your plan, always reminding yourself why you want to keep your weight off, whether for an overall healthy lifestyle or otherwise, is a lifelong prescription.Patrice demonstrates a few of the exercises she does at the gym

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