How to Keep Weight Off Forever
You've hit that magic number; now what?
You've hit that magic number at last; now what do you do? The goal is to
lose the extra weight and never find it again. Unfortunately, only about of
third of dieters are successful at maintaining their loss. Seasoned dieters
know that keeping it off takes vigilance, and for some folks, that's more
difficult than the actual weight loss.
Maintaining weight loss requires continued modification of your lifestyle.
If you go back to the habits that caused you to be overweight in the first
place, weight gain is inevitable. Permanent weight loss calls for healthy
eating and exercise routines, just like the ones you developed while you lost
the weight. Many people relax their vigilance too much after they lose weight,
then gain it right back. You can relax a little once you've reached your goal
-- but only a little.
Practice Makes Perfect
The more you practice something, the easier it becomes. It takes time to
etch those healthy habits into a routine. Be patient with yourself, and don't
let all your hard work go down the tubes. Know your weaknesses and be prepared.
You will be tempted by certain foods and in certain situations, but if you keep
your resolve strong, you can overcome temptations. Moderation is a great
approach in those tough situations.
One of my favorite strategies for weight maintenance is to assign a day of
the week when I let myself indulge -- a little. This day cannot change from
week to week; otherwise, you could find yourself with more than one day
"off" every week due to circumstances. On that designated day off --
mine is Saturday for obvious reasons -- I give myself permission to indulge in
my favorite foods, within reason. A small piece of cheesecake is fine, but not
the whole cake! It's basically controlled cheating. Works like a charm for me,
and it may work for you, too. Just knowing that I can loosen up on Saturday
helps me stay on top of my game all week.
We can take a page from people who've succeeded at the weight-loss game. The
National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) tracks people who've lost at least 60
pounds and kept it off for a minimum of five years. Here are some of the things
- Write it down. Journaling your food intake is a powerful tool to keep you
- Eat light and right. Most successful losers follow low-fat diets -- no
gimmicks, special diet foods, or magic pills -- because they simply don't work
for the long term.
- Exercise daily. Walking is the preferred activity, and these folks build it
into their day, making it a must-do just like brushing their teeth. NWCR
members engage in about an hour of exercise per day.
- Start the day with breakfast. All the research supports the role of
starting your day the healthy way.
- Weigh in regularly. If they gain a few pounds, they immediately make
adjustments to get back to their healthy weight.
According to the NWCR's James O. Hill, PhD, the longer people keep the
weight off, the easier it becomes to maintain the loss. Successful losers find
pleasure in their new lifestyles and it no longer feels like a chore to live a
healthy life. It needs to be a way of life, not a diet. And weight maintenance
does get easier over time. If you can hit the two-year mark, chances are,