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Keeping the weight off

Anyone who’s lost weight can tell you—shedding pounds takes discipline and drive. But here’s the kicker—keeping those pounds off makes losing them look like—sorry—a piece of cake!

Many people regain pounds they so diligently worked at losing because they don’t think past the moment they reach their weight goal. But you can be a weight-loss success story by making healthy eating pleasurable and by nurturing a healthy mindset. Try these tips:

  1. Vary your menu. If you lost weight on diet-shake breakfasts and daily lunches of cottage cheese, it’s time to add variety to your meals. No one food or drink contains all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs. So, instead of a diet shake for breakfast, try scrambled egg whites with salsa and a sprinkle of cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla, or a bowl of five-grain hot cereal with chopped apples, walnuts and cinnamon. Practicing portion control instead of omitting healthy foods will keep the weight off.
  2. Toss your fat clothes! Leaving plus-size outfits in closets “just in case” is a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t allow room in your closet, or your brain, for the possibility of a relapse. Buy and wear clothes that fit and make you feel great or have old clothes taken in to flatter your new body. Feeling terrific about yourself is a strong incentive to stay at your new weight.
  3. Become a weight-loss mentor. Help and encourage a friend or relative who wants to lose weight. When someone draws inspiration from your success, you’re even more likely to remain “a good example.” Plus, trading healthy recipes and power walking together will help you maintain your loss. And it’s always nice having at least one friend to dine with who doesn’t push curly fries or chocolate cake on you.
  4. Try something new. Choose an activity you didn’t have the nerve to try when you were heavier. Consider a physical activity like tennis, swimming or Pilates or a social activity such as the church choir, a theater group or a women’s club. Remind yourself how your weight loss has opened new doors and brought more energy, pleasure and enrichment into your life.
  5. Build muscle. Working out with light dumbbells or resistance bands adds lean muscle mass to your frame, strengthening bones, muscles and joints and bumping up your metabolism. You’ll still have to be mindful of how much you eat, but your toned body will give you the impetus to push away from the table when you need to.
  6. Get help if you need it. People who lose weight on a very low-calorie diet or a restrictive food plan may need help learning how to add back calories or vary their diet. Even if you lost weight on your own, a nutritionist or registered dietitian can review your current menu plan and show you how to add more fiber, eat more leafy greens or reduce saturated fat so you won’t gain weight.

Losing weight can yield health gains like lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, better blood sugar control, less joint pain, deeper sleep, an absence of acid reflux and a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many cancers. So the next time your willpower for sweets gets shaky, think how much better you feel and pick up an apple instead.