It takes a lot of self-control to stick with a diet or exercise regimen until you achieve your ideal weight. Once you shed those extra pounds, it's easy to forget the restraint that helped you turn down your favorite treats and run that last lap. If you're not careful, you might slip into old habits, only to feel discouraged when the weight you worked so hard to lose comes creeping back.
Happily, regaining lost weight isn't inevitable. Instead of worrying, read our tips below to learn how to maintain your new weight. When you take the right actions, you'll be able to preserve both your self-discipline and your new, healthy weight.
1. Remember the Reasons You Lost Weight in the First Place
Chances are, if you were motivated enough to lose weight in the first place, you can stay motivated enough to keep that weight off. Refocus on the initial reason that drove you to lose weight. If you keep it in the back of your mind, it will propel you to maintain the weight just as it propelled you to lose the weight.
For instance, maybe you lost weight for health reasons and to give yourself extra years to spend with kids and grandkids. If you were able to say no to that second piece of cake by thinking about your time with your grandkids, continue to do so even though the weight is gone.
The best motivators are personal and match your own moral compass. If you lost weight for other people instead of for you, it's much harder to keep the weight off. Make sure the reason you chose to lose weight makes you happy and gives you something to work towards. This will make maintaining your target weight much more doable.
2. Find a Support System
No matter how good your internal motivation is, it's always helpful to have an external support system who can encourage you to maintain your weight. Your family members, co-workers, or friends can hold you accountable to your weight maintenance goals, which can make those goals easier to maintain.
You might find that staying faithful to your healthy habits is easier with others. Commit to exercising with your friends twice a week, or sign up for a class that lasts several months so you can exercise in a group. When more of you commit to the same exercising or eating goal, you can hold each other to those goals. You'll also have a harder time thinking of excuses to skip out on the evening's workout session.
Continue to consult with the weight loss clinic, doctor, dietician, or nutritionist who helped you decide how to healthily lose weight in the first place. He or she can continue to give you recommendations specific to your body type and situation for how to keep weight off. Checking in with them periodically can also help you stay motivated.
3. Don't Get Discouraged
When you were dieting or exercising to lose weight, you had a quantifiable goal, which meant there was an end in sight. However, keeping weight off isn't an easily measured goal like losing half a pound to a pound per week. Instead, it's an endurance contest, and it might last for the rest of your life.
This can be a discouraging revelation. The rest of your life might seem like a long time to regulate the amount of sweets you eat—and it might not seem doable, either. Instead of throwing in the towel, though, try to establish a new normal. Remember, you no longer have to make sweeping changes; you simply have to stick to the lifestyle changes you made in the first place.
If setting concrete goals helped with weight loss, set goals that encourage you to keep this new mindset. Reward yourself with a night out if you exercise four nights in a row, or invite a friend to see a movie as a prize for a week of healthy eating.
The more practice you have at eating healthily and exercising frequently, the easier it will be to make these activities habits. And as you commit to this new lifestyle, it will get easier over time. Soon, you won't even remember a time when you didn't exercise frequently or eat well.
4. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Holiday seasons, unexpected life events, and family vacations can all interrupt your "new normal" and set you back a few pounds. If you let these events make you feel like a failure, you might be tempted to give up entirely and spiral back into unhealthy habits.
Instead of seeing them as failures, try to view these events as learning experiences. Simply get back up on the horse as soon as you can and readjust to your new lifestyle. Remember, this is about enduring and maintaining—you can always pick up right where you left off.
Follow these four tips to keep yourself in top shape even after your diet ends. For tips specific to your weight loss plan, lifestyle, and body type, talk to your weight loss clinic, doctor, or nutritionist.