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Secrets to Maintaining Weight Loss

Weight maintenance can be as hard as or harder than dieting, but it can be done successfully with the right approach.

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Losing weight takes effort. To see pounds pour off, you’ll probably have to cut portion sizes and say, “No thanks,” with greater frequency than, “More, please.” These sacrifices are bearable when paired with tangible progress, such as a lower number on the scale, looser fitting clothing, and positive feedback from others. But what happens when you reach the coveted weight you strived for?

Weight maintenance, a stage that is longed for by chronic dieters, is a glorious position to be in, but it’s a precarious one. According to some gloomy statistics, a whopping 80 to 95 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lost and may even end up a weight higher than when they originally dieted. The National Weight Control Registry, however, shows that it is possible to maintain weight loss. This national database of more than 10,000 people have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off around 5.5 years.

Long-term success is absolutely feasible, but it almost always takes as much work as losing weight in the first place. When it comes to maintaining weight loss, these two mental strategies are key:

Remain accountable to measurable benchmarks. It’s important to book a regular date with the scale. It doesn’t matter whether you weigh yourself once a day or once a week, just don’t avoid the scale. Although the numbers you see could be elevated owing to fluid retention from eating salty foods, or decreased if you’re dehydrated, weighing yourself helps to keep you responsible. I suggest my clients step on the scale on Fridays and Mondays; Friday gives you an idea about whether splurging is on the menu over the weekend and Monday will tell you how you navigated that time period.

Don’t expect to be “done.” Keeping your weight the same is an active process of consistent lifestyle choices. Those who successful maintain their sweet spot on the scale are usually the ones who lost weight through realistic means, rather than restrictive fads or meager cleansing programs. They know maintenance is a long-term phase with the overarching goal of bringing optimal health and well-being in body and mind. Caring for your health requires a similar mindset. If you are free of illness, that’s a status you’d like to maintain. But you can’t stay in good health without caring for your body through proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep. Weight is no different. The only way to avoid regaining weight is by maintaining a diet that resembles the one you followed to trim down in the first place.

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