You’ve done the hard part: You lost weight. But after all that hard work you’re now wondering:
How do I keep it off and stay in shape?
For starters, it’s good to be aware of common roadblocks in maintaining weight loss. For many it’s easier to keep up healthy habits during the workweek, but temptations can increase on weekends and holidays. Try to stay focused no matter what time of the week or year it is. Time is on your side; studies show that people who can keep the weight off for at least 2 years are far more likely to maintain that new weight in the following years.
Negative thoughts can be a barrier to exercise. All-too-common phrases like “I’m too tired,” “I have no time” or “It’s too hard to maintain a routine” make it all too easy to put off exercise and put on the pounds.
Educate yourself. Keeping the weight off requires know-how. Learn from others who’ve succeeded and follow their example.
According to American Family Physician, as of September 2010:
- 98% of adults who successfully maintained their weight loss have modified their eating habits.
- 94% have increased their level of physical activity, especially walking.
- 78% eat a healthy breakfast every day.
- 75% weigh themselves weekly.
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of television per week.
So you think you’re ready, but you’re not sure how to take that first step? It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are some examples.How can you modify your food intake?
- Keep using a food diary and document everything you eat and what time you eat it. This lets you to keep track of exactly what you are eating. It also gives you an idea of when those hunger pangs are most likely to strike. Next time you’ll have a healthy snack ready before you dash off to the vending machine.
- Always watch your portion sizes during the day. Refer back to our Suggested Servings for Each Food Group page for help.
- Plan your weekday meals ahead of time and prepare them Sunday night. That way they’ll be ready when you come home each night. If you’re low on time and energy, just reheat and eat. Only this time it’ll be a healthy prepared meal instead of a frozen dinner.
- Along with your food diary, keep a weight notebook and weigh yourself weekly. This will provide numerical evidence that you are making progress and maintaining your weight. Sometimes it is hard to notice your success just by looking in the mirror.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator at work or at the mall.
- Set aside an hour after dinner and go for a brisk family walk.
- Take 30 minutes after dinner to play with your kids and pets in the back yard and have fun!
- Park a little farther away from the office door every day to increase your walking.
- Call up a friend you haven’t seen or talked to in a while and go to the gym together.
- Cut back on watching TV as a family. Plan a game night once a week. Games like Pictionary or charades are great because they get the family up and active while still having fun!
- If you don’t have time in the morning for a sit-down meal, plan ahead and have a box of high-fiber, whole-grain cereal or healthy granola bars in your desk drawer at work.
- Travel a lot with your job? Throw some packets of low -sugar instant oatmeal in your suitcase for a quick, easy-to-make meal in your hotel room!
- Plan a healthy breakfast the night before and have everything set out so there is no confusion or wasted time in the morning. If you have to hurry in the morning you’re more likely to forget healthy habits.
- Choose low-sugar, high-fiber, high-protein items while shopping at the grocery store. Remember, breakfast is a very important meal and should not be skipped.
- Along with the strategies mentioned above, here are a few other things to keep in mind.
- Make sure you establish a social support network of friends, family and medical professionals who will reinforce your healthy eating decisions. Also, find ways to motivate yourself to keep up your hard work. And remember, at the end of the day, it’s up to you. Hold yourself accountable for the decisions you make.
- Remember to avoid binge eating and eating as a response to negative emotions and stress.
This content was last reviewed on 01/10/2013.