How many people do you know who are on a diet? And how many of those people always seem to be on a diet? (And is that person you? )

Maybe we should stop dieting because clearly it isn’t effective. And maybe we should stop judging ourselves while we’re at it too. The last thing we need is more stress, guilt, anxiety or shame in our lives.

Hey – it’s your life. You have every right to take charge of your health by losing/maintaining weight in a way that supports your needs and preferences.

Here are four general guidelines to follow when creating your own weight maintenance plan.

1. Decrease high glycemic food consumption

Sweets and simple carbs are so yummy! And the good news is you can still enjoy them just not all the time. Even Dwayne Johnson is famous for his epic cheat days!

These foods are crammed full with sugar. And they really mess with your blood sugar levels because of how quickly they’re absorbed into the blood stream, which paves the way for insulin resistance, diabetes, and weight gain.

Must you give them up altogether? No. Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. So enjoy them occasionally in moderation if for no other reason than to keep yourself sane. Depriving yourself of your favorite foods will drive you crazy. Rewarding yourself with your favorite foods strengthens your will power and commitment to eat well most of the time.

Some people can eat just a bite or two of their favorite sweet or salty treat to get their “fix.” But if you know you’re not a one-Oreo-type of person, it’s probably best to avoid this strategy.

The point is, you don’t have to give up the foods you enjoy (unless you’re under doctor’s orders).

2. Don’t starve yourself – eat nutritious foods most of the time when hungry

People vigorously debate how/if fasting affects metabolism by slowing it down, which would burn fewer calories, leading to weight gain. You’ll have to decide for yourself if fasting is for you.

One of the reasons fasting works for many people is because it reduces how many calories they eat during the day. Fewer calories usually leads to looser pants because you’re burning more energy than taking in.

However, one thing you can do is to enjoy nutritious meals. Mind your portions and only eat until comfortably full to practice responsible calorie restriction.

3. Reach for healthy snacks

A donut or bag of chips once in a while won’t force you to send your favorite pants to Goodwill, as long as you’re reaching for healthy snacks most of the time.

A handful of Almonds and an apple make a great choice. You’ll feel better too.

4. Maintain muscle mass

Food is just one part of the equation. Exercise is the other. And although most people are familiar with treadmills, bikes and jogging, let’s not forget about lifting weights to maintain lean muscle.

Maintaining and adding muscle keeps the metabolism fired up. As we age, we lose muscle mass, slowing metabolism. So remember to add weight-bearing exercises to your fitness routine. It doesn’t have to be anything major either unless you’re training for a competition.

By keeping the above guidelines in mind, you can create a healthy lifestyle that matches your preferences and likes. All it takes is eating well most of the time and moving more, along with getting enough rest, and reducing stress.

Keep these tips in mind to create a healthy lifestyle you can live with:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat only when you’re truly hungry and only until full
  • Know what you’re eating and why
  • Enjoy your meals! If you don’t like what you’re eating, you won’t stick with it.
  • Reach for healthy snacks most of the time like nuts, fruit or crispy vegetables

Don’t be a slave to dieting. Create a lifestyle that serves you because we only get one shot at this thing called “life.” We should enjoy it, not dread it. So take care of your body by fueling your life with food and activities that bring you joy.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

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