Oh, those extra pounds. They seem to creep up like a weed in our garden. And while losing extra weight can be challenging, keeping the weight off can be even more challenging. Sad to say, many people who lose weight gain it back. However, there are a handful of key strategies, which research has suggested help keep the weight off for good.
- Step up — On the scale, that is. People who maintain their weight loss are more likely to continue weighing themselves on a scale regularly than people who gain back their weight loss. “Stepping on the scale regularly is important for staying on track,” says Libby Mills, registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It helps motivate setting healthy intentions for the day, and that’s a good reason to weigh first thing in the morning. Whether you weigh once a week or daily, regular weigh-ins will help you control your weight.” Bonnie Taub-Dix, author of “Read It Before You Eat It,” suggests you make peace with the bathroom scale. In fact, she suggests weighing yourself on Fridays and Mondays. Why? Taub-Dix has found that if your weight is up on a Friday, you’ll be less likely to go overboard with calories on the weekend – especially if you know you’re going to be weighing in on Monday. If you weigh yourself on a Friday and your weight is down, it may motivate you to curtail the weekend splurging for an even better Monday morning weight check.
- Keep it going — To maintain weight loss, you have to maintain the behaviors that helped you lose the weight in the first place. While weighing yourself regularly is one of those good behaviors, it’s also important to eat breakfast, keep track of your food intake and exercise habits, and stick to appropriate portions. “Practicing portion control works whether you are at a party, restaurant or home,” says Mills. “Simply choosing the right amount eliminates having to know how many calories are in each specific food.”
- Eat more to weigh less — Keri Gans, author of “The Small Change Diet,” wants you to concentrate on eating more to lose weight. Huh? What she means is rather than negatively focusing on all the foods you think you shouldn’t be eating to shed weight, focus on what you should be eating more of in your diet. For example, ask yourself, “Have I eaten any fruit today?” Or, “Does my dinner plate include a veggie?” According to Gans, the more healthy stuff you include on your plate, the less room there is for the not-so-healthy foods.
- Be a problem solver — Weight loss maintainers more often used productive problem solving skills. “It’s okay to have treats now and again, or to even slip up a little, but you want to be able to stop a slip before it becomes a complete fall off your plan,” says Mills. “It can be tough to pick yourself up after a fall, so catching yourself can make a big motivational difference.” For instance, maintaining an exercise routine and planning meals for the week are a couple of helpful strategies.
- Talk to yourself — Those who maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors are more likely to engage in positive self-talk. And that doesn’t necessarily mean chatting to the mirror. Journaling can be a form of positive verbal reinforcement. Mills says keeping a food and activity log promotes mindfulness, provides accountability and motivates more good choices. How can you overcome a plateau if you’re still trying to lose — or if you do start to regain? Try shaking up your exercise routine rather than slashing calories drastically. “Nothing is worse than trying to do something that is boring,” says Mills. “Keep physical activity exciting by doing different things that you enjoy. Having fun is key no matter what you do. Plus, doing a variety of activities will keep the calories burning by challenging muscles in a different ways.”