Very few people can stay competition lean or have a 6 pack all of the time(or should). A little extra weight is healthy – but guidelines must be set to avoid rebound.

One of the things I hear a lot from the clients that I work with is that after they have lost a lot of weight, they gained some or all of their weight back. It’s a big fear for most people. They join a boot camp or do a competition and they reach all their goals, and a few months later they are right back to where they started – or worse. This can be very hard to take physically and mentally.

Here is the framework I plan I have used in my life to help me maintain my weight and try to impart to my clients.

5 Tips to Maintaining Your Weight

1.Decide on your new ideal weight.

You must set a target for what weight you want to get to. There is a famous quote that “You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have”. This is a big thing that I have come across when talking to people in the gym.

If you haven’t reached your goal yet, your ideal weight will be a lower weight. If you have reached your goal, your ideal maintenance weight should be your new weight. This weight is what determines whether you should be dieting (eating fewer calories than you are burning) or maintaining (eating the same amount of calories than your burning).

2.Set a new goal

Whether this is an ironman, a bikini or bodybuilding competition, a weight loss contest, or a holiday, you must put some kind of goal into place. Goals give your training purpose, and make it easier to say no to high-calorie foods and the temptation to skip a workout.

My goal is to come into April/May at a specific body fat percentage, muscle weight and fat weight. I want to know I am starting my diet ahead of where I started it last time. I also want to look and stay healthy. I can’t do that if my weight fluctuates too much, so my goal is to avoid too much weight gain in the wrong places. Plus, I just feel a million times better in all my clothes!

3.Make a recovery plan.

What do you do if you bounce a check or max out a credit card? Do you keep spending what you can’t afford? No. You start making a plan to pay it off and get back in the black. The same goes for dieting. As soon as you go over budget, you have to start paying it off because you can’t afford to eat that much anymore. This is when you step up your cardio (for e.g. HIIT sessions) and reduce your caloric budget (plan your food on a Sunday).

As soon as you get back to your ideal weight, you can afford to have a cheat meal, you can afford to skip a workout. But, until then, you have to stay disciplined and get your body back in control.

4.Cheats are treats.

What I mean is, cheat meals (personally I hate this term) should be a treat, not a habit. There are certain things I wont buy and wont eat when eating out. This forces me to go out and go to the shop if I want it (which requires more planning and reduces the chance of impulse eating). For instance, I will not buy ice cream.

If I want ice cream, I will have it on a special occasion – but I’m not going to have something that available to me. Same goes with chips and other high-calorie snack foods. As soon as I bring them in front of me, they will gone within 60 seconds. Then it becomes a unhealthy eating habit.

I will continue to have limits on how much I eat out and how much I “treat” myself. And, I will continue to cook healthy meals and have low-calorie snacks at home.

5.You’re never “off”

One of the biggest mistakes people make is doing a boot camp or competition and then taking “off”. They work hard for 3 months and then they stop completely. You should never be “off” – you are either in weight loss mode or maintenance mode.

While a competitor can gain a little weight in off season while they try to build muscle, the more fat they gain, the harder they have to work to get it off when they are in season. Why not try to keep your fat under control so you start your season ahead of where you started it last time.

Make a plan of how you plan to control your weight for that holiday you have coming up so you don’t put that extra few kilos on. If you fail to plan, then plan to fail. Everything in moderation and planning your meals is the key to staying at your ideal weight!