While losing extra weight can be challenging, keeping the weight off can be even more challenging. Most people who lose weight gain it back, but there are a handful of key strategies research has suggested helps keep the weight off for good.
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, MS, RDN, LDN, 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."
Keep It Going
To maintain weight loss, you have to maintain the behaviors that helped you lose the weight in the first place. Weighing yourself regularly is one of those good behaviors; Mills says it also is 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," she says. "Simply choosing the right amount eliminates having to know how many calories are in each specific food."
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 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 challenge muscles in a different ways."