Key Strategies for Keeping the Weight Off
Congratulations! You’ve reached your goal weight. Now what? Learn how you can keep those lost pounds from coming back.
It’s hard to lose weight. Shedding pounds and trimming down take dedication, discipline, and months of effort. But then many find that staying at goal weight can be as tough as losing the weight in the first place.
All too often, the weight creeps back on, sometimes climbing higher than it was before. Some studies suggest that repeated bouts of weight loss and weight gain can take a toll on your physical and emotional health and may cause:
- Depression and anxiety
- Bingeing or eating a lot of food while feeling out of control
- More difficulty losing weight as you get older
- Increased risk of chronic disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
Taking off the weight… for good
The good news is that it is possible to achieve and maintain significant amounts of weight loss.In fact, about 20 percent of people in the general population are successful at long-term weight loss maintenance. This is defined as maintaining a 10 percent weight loss for 6 months to a year or more.
So what’s the secret to keeping the weight off for good? Studies and surveys reveal the following top strategies of successful “maintainers.” You can think of them as steps you can take to claim your own success.
Be physically active. Engaging in some type of physical activity most days of the week tops the list as one of the main factors in maintaining weight loss. This could include brisk walking, jogging, exercise classes or tapes, dancing, biking – anything that gets your heart pumping. Exercise can also improve well-being, which may have an impact on helping you stick with other positive lifestyle behaviors (like eating well and having a positive outlook). Working in strength training also has benefits because it builds muscle mass, which increases metabolism. Find something you truly enjoy doing – this will help you stick with it. Check with your doctor before increasing your activity level.
Watch your diet. A meal plan that allows for adequate calories, protein, and fat and is not overly restrictive has been shown to be the most beneficial. Severe calorie restrictions and fad diets tend to backfire and typically do not work in the long run. Having regular meals (not skipping) and keeping healthy eating patterns on weekends as well as weekdays is also a common success strategy.
Have realistic weight goals. The majority of people who maintain their weight loss have achieved their weight goal. In order to do this, it’s vitally important to have a realistic goal weight. Numerous studies have shown that even a 10-percent loss of body weight can go a long way towards reducing the risk of chronic disease. Be sure to set a goal you feel is achievable. You can always choose to lose more weight (if necessary) once you reach that goal.
Eat breakfast. Breakfast can reduce hunger, helping you keep your calories under control the rest of the day. Breakfast also provides energy, which can help fuel workouts. Aim for a satisfying breakfast that includes some protein and wholesome carbs, such as whole-grain cereal and fruit; whole-grain bread and natural peanut butter; yogurt and nuts; or eggs and toast.
Monitor your weight regularly. Consistent weighing (either daily or weekly) can help to catch weight gains before they get out of control. Just be aware that weight can vary from day to day based on water retention or other factors. If slight daily variations on the scale will be upsetting, weigh yourself once a week. Be aware that morning weights are usually the most accurate. Food journaling can also be a helpful tool for self-monitoring and awareness.
Learn to manage stressful situations. Stress can often lead to overeating or eating foods that may promote weight gain. People who are able to maintain their weight have learned coping mechanisms that help them deal with stress in ways that do not involve food.
Have a support system. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends, co-workers, or family members is important for long-term success.
Finally, keep in mind that the commitment to maintaining weight loss will be a lifelong effort. Having the overall approach that this is a lifestyle change, not a one-time diet or quick fix, is important for long-term success.