ASK AN EXPERT: Now that I’ve lost the weight, how can I keep it off?

If you’ve recently lost excess weight, congratulations! It’s an accomplishment that will likely benefit your health now and in the future. Now that you’ve lost weight, let’s talk about some ways to maintain that success.

The following tips are some of the common characteristics among people who have successfully lost weight and maintained that loss over time.

Watch Your Diet

n Follow a healthy and realistic eating pattern. You have embarked on a healthier lifestyle, now the challenge is maintaining the positive eating habits you’ve developed along the way. In studies of people who have lost weight and kept it off for at least a year, most continued to eat a diet lower in calories as compared to their pre-weight loss diet. For more suggestions regarding a healthful diet, visit Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.

n Keep your eating patterns consistent. Follow a healthy eating pattern regardless of changes in your routine. Plan ahead for weekends, vacations and special occasions. By making a plan, it is more likely you’ll have healthy foods on hand for when your routine changes.

n Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast is a common trait among people who have lost weight and kept it off. Eating a healthful breakfast may help you avoid getting “over-hungry” and then overeating later in the day.

Be Active

n Get daily physical activity. People who have lost weight and kept it off typically engage in 60-90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week while not exceeding calorie needs. This doesn’t necessarily mean 60-90 minutes at one time. It might mean 20-30 minutes of physical activity three times a day. For example, take a brisk walk in the morning, at lunch time and in the evening. Some people may need to talk to their healthcare provider before participating in this level of physical activity.

Stay on Course

n Monitor your diet and activity. Keeping a food and physical activity journal can help you track your progress and spot trends. For example, you might notice that your weight creeps up during periods when you have a lot of business travel or when you have to work overtime. Recognizing this tendency can be a signal to try different behaviors, such as packing your own healthful food for the plane and making time to use your hotel’s exercise facility when you are traveling. Or if working overtime, maybe you can use your breaks for quick walks around the building.

n Monitor your weight. Check your weight regularly. When managing your weight loss, it’s a good idea to keep track of your weight so you can plan accordingly and adjust your diet and exercise plan as necessary. If you have gained a few pounds, get back on track quickly.

n Get support from family, friends, and others. People who have successfully lost weight and kept it off often rely on support from others to help them stay on course and get over any “bumps.” Sometimes having a friend or partner who is also losing weight or maintaining a weight loss can help you stay motivated.

Want to learn more?

Your eating habits may be leading to weight gain; for example, eating too fast, always clearing your plate, eating when you’re not hungry and skipping meals (or maybe just breakfast). Permanently improving your eating habits requires a thoughtful approach in which you Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce.

n REFLECT on all of your specific eating habits, both bad and good; and, your common triggers for unhealthy eating

n REPLACE your unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones

n REINFORCE your new, healthier eating habits.

Regular physical activity is important for good health, and it’s especially important if you’re trying to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight.

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