Keep Your Summer Body All Winter Long
Learn the secrets of weight maintenance and avoid winter weight gain.
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.
And don't be intimidated by the 60-minute recommendation. It works just as
well to exercise in shorter increments throughout the day.
Healthy eating habits are important, but diet alone won't do the
trick, says James Hill, PhD, co-founder of the National Weight Control
"Start with exercise you can live with," suggests Hill, director of
the Center of Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado. "Most people
walk, but you may prefer other kinds of fitness.
"Walking is a baseline," he adds. "To get additional benefits,
notch it up to moderate or vigorous aerobic activity and add in resistance
training on occasion,"
The bottom line is that the longer and more vigorously you exercise, the
better. And the benefits of regular activity go beyond weight control.
"Regular physical activity reduces stress, strengthens muscles and
bones, energizes, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and makes you feel
good," says Hill.
Weigh In Regularly
Weight can fluctuate on a daily basis. But if you are committed to weighing
yourself regularly, you will know when you're gaining.
There's some controversy over just how frequently you should weigh yourself,
but experts agree it's important to weigh in at least once a week.
Research suggests that regular weighing is the second most important
behavior for maintaining weight loss (after exercise), Foreyt says. He
recommends doing it every day.
"When it becomes a habit, it is an excellent tool for managing daily
activities and food intake," he says.
Weighing regularly can be an excellent motivator. But if you become overly
emotional and discouraged by the numbers on the scale, it can do more harm than
"Do what works best for you, but don't let the scale control you or make
you crazy," says Pat Baird, RD, a member of the National Weight Control
Registry who lost over 80 pounds and has kept it off for over a decade.
"I tell my clients to weigh in at least every couple days so when you
see you are gaining weight, you can nip it in the bud immediately, before it
becomes a problem," she says.
Figure out how frequently you need to weigh yourself to best guide your food
choices and activity level, Fletcher advises. "And have a concrete plan on
how you are going to handle it when you regain 3-5 pounds."