Keep off the weight.Fact:
Half of all Americans who lose weight gain at least some of it back within a year, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity. As the novelty of weight loss fades, so can the motivation to walk past your coworker's candy jar without reaching a hand in. But remember this: It's a lot easier to keep the weight off than it is to lose it all over again. And maintaining your slimmer shape is very possible--if you adopt these simple habits.
Related: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Faster
1. Step on the scale regularly.
When weight comes back, it creeps up on you so slowly--one or two pounds at a time--that you might not even notice. J. Graham Thomas, Ph.D., a researcher for the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks 10,000 people who have maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds or more, suggests regular weigh-ins to catch a slip.
Wedding Dress Challenger Lisa Barksdale said getting on the scale every morning showed her how different foods affect her body: "I had just a little fried calamari one night, and when I weighed in a couple days later, I was up a pound!"
One to three pounds could be attributed to water weight, says Thomas, but if you see a fluctuation of four pounds or more, get back on track by keeping a food journal for a few weeks and following some smart eating guidelines like these from registered dietitian Stephanie Middleberg.
It's incredibly simple: If you stop exercising, you could find yourself right back where you started, says Thomas: "Getting regular exercise is one of the most well-known findings of the National Weight Control Registry. Ninety percent of the members exercise, working out for an average of an hour a day. The way most of them choose to do this is brisk walking." Thomas says many registry members split it up 20 minutes at a time. Try these 10 easy ways to burn 100 extra calories
More than 75 percent of National Weight Control Registry members start their day with breakfast. "The idea is that they are spreading their calories throughout the day," says Thomas. "If you don't eat all day and you have your first meal when you're starving, you're likely to eat way too much." Stick with a schedule of eating five times a day--three moderate meals and two reasonable snacks. The Wedding Dress Challenge Healthy Meal Planner will help you stay on track.
4. Be honest with yourself.
That starts with identifying which foods you can't help overeating, says Bonnie Matthews, who blogs about her 120-pound weight loss as a "Wellness Warrior" for The Dr. Oz Show. Bonnie calls these "never never foods" (at the top of that list for her is pizza). "I keep them out of my life," she says. If you don't want to go that far, at least keep them out of the house.
5. Celebrate maintenance milestones.
Once you reach your goal weight, your mind-set can quickly change from positive ("Yay, I'm losing!") to negative ("I'd better not gain it back"), Thomas says. Find ways to make maintenance thrilling: Promise yourself prizes for keeping the pounds off. Think new bikini, second honeymoon, whatever--but maybe not another wedding cake!
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