Expert Blogs | Heart Health
Tips to Help You Maintain Weight Loss
meal planning

You’ve reached your goal weight for a healthier heart and overall well-being. Now what? At times, it can seem as if it was easier to shed the pounds than to keep them off. These steps can help you set yourself up for weight loss success.

Establish a routine. Weight control is a long-term process, and it’s important to figure out what strategies work best for you. For example, some people find journaling their food  and physical activity helpful, while others find it triggering. You may do better keeping weight off by measuring your food to keep portions under control. Or it may be worth it to have one or two exercise buddies for support. Everyone is different, and there is no one right way to keep the weight off.

Consider your connections to food. Your recent weight loss may have masked an emotional relationship with food because you were so busy restricting it to get the pounds off. Ask yourself: Do I eat more when I’m stressed, angry, or sad? Research suggests that successful maintainers may be less prone to eating in response to emotions. Find ways to deal with the feelings that cause you to overdo it with food, such as exercise, meditation, and talking to a friend or counselor.

Increase your NEAT. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy used doing everything except sleeping, eating, and exercising. Increasing NEAT contributes to weight maintenance as well as physical fitness and lower blood glucose levels. Try these NEAT tips: Move around for 5 minutes out of every hour; skip the drive thru and go into the store to get food or coffee or food; and take each bag of groceries in the house one at a time. Light housecleaning and yard work count, too!

Practice mindful eating. Eating satisfaction plays a key role in weight maintenance. Being more mindful of food, which includes dining at a table without distraction, slows down eating and  increases feeling of fullness. Include foods that take longer to chew, such as whole and lightly processed fruits and vegetables, which are also lower in saturated fat, salt, and added sugars than ultra-processed foods. Paying attention to the food you eat may decrease cravings for high-calorie foods.

Sleep enough. Sleep is key to weight control. Lack of shut-eye can make you hungrier and lead to poor eating choices and a lack of exercise.  A recent study found that overweight people who slept about 6 1/2 hours a night naturally reduced their calorie intake by an average of 270 calories a day when they slept for 8 1/2 hours a night.

Brush it off. You had a few drinks and a plate of loaded nachos. Maybe you enjoyed an ice cream sundae or a burger and fries. That’s OK! Food is delicious, and eating is not cheating.  What you do 80 percent to 90 percent of the time is what matters most. Forget about indulges, and never stop trying to eat a nutritious and delicious diet overall.




Photo Credit: KucherAV / iStock via Getty Images

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Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN

Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN

Registered dietitian nutritionist

Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN, is an award-winning nutrition communicator and dietitian based in Boston. She is the author of several books, including The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Hormones, Health, and Happiness (co-author), and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy.

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