Keep Your Summer Body All Winter Long
Learn the secrets of weight maintenance and avoid winter weight gain.
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
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
"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.
Don't underestimate the role of exercise in weight maintenance, the experts
"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
To keep the weight off, you need to do something physical every day -- such
as brisk walking -- for 60 minutes, Foreyt says.