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Keep Your Summer Body All Winter Long

Learn the secrets of weight maintenance and avoid winter weight gain.
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Warm weather, skimpier clothing, and the prospect of wearing a bathing suit are often motivation enough to help get you into shape for the summer. But what happens when frolicking at the beach is only a memory? You can maintain your summer-svelte figure all winter long if you know what it takes to stay the course of weight maintenance.

It's so easy to fall back into bad habits – you eat a little more, exercise a little less, and before you know it, the weight creeps on. By the time you notice those extra pounds it's nearly holiday season, so you decide to wait until after Jan. 1 to try to lose weight. Sound familiar?

If you're tired of the annual weight-gain cycle, let this be the year you maintain your summer figure all year long. WebMD consulted four weight maintenance experts to learn what it takes to be a successful loser, once and for all.


Examine Your Habits

Successful maintainers don't make arbitrary distinctions between seasons or times of year, says Anne Fletcher, registered dietitian and author of the Thin for Life books.

"It is not about the time of year, but instead a way of thinking and a way of life that keeps the weight off," she says.

For the past 16 years, Fletcher has been researching and writing books on successful weight maintainers, whom she calls the "masters." When she asks them how they are different from other people who have lost weight and then regained it, they overwhelmingly say they could not go back to their old ways.

"They finally got to a point where they no longer wanted to look or feel the way they did, and this mindset became critical to establishing new and healthier behaviors for life," explains Fletcher.

Her advice: Look at the behaviors or habits that helped you lose weight. What were you able to do in the summer that helped you lose the weight? Be very specific about the helpful behaviors, and write them down in a journal to help you clearly define how you'll keep up the good work.

If, for example, you ate cherries instead of high-calorie desserts and started swimming laps when the weather turned warm, Fletcher suggests finding winter fruits that satisfy, and seeking out an indoor pool to continue the activity you enjoyed.

Keep Moving

Don't underestimate the role of exercise in weight maintenance, the experts advise.

"The biggest mistake people make is not emphasizing physical activity enough," says John Foreyt, PhD, director of Baylor College of Medicine's behavioral research center. "It is the No. 1 predictor of successful weight maintenance."

To keep the weight off, you need to do something physical every day -- such as brisk walking -- for 60 minutes, Foreyt says.

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