If you have successfully lost weight, you may be concerned about regaining your weight. You are right to be concerned, as according Traci Mann, author of the 2007 study published in the American Psychologist journal, between one and two thirds of people who diet regain the weight they lost, plus more. Once you reach your goal weight, the job is not over. You have just entered a new phase of your healthy lifestyle--the maintenance phase. Tread carefully as you learn how to add just enough calories to stop losing weight, but not so many as to gain weight.
Wait at least two weeks after you reach your goal before adjusting your calorie level. Use those two weeks to settle into your new weight and see if you are still losing weight. Weigh yourself every day and write your weight down. Continue writing down or tracking your calories so you know approximately how many calories you are currently eating. A 2007 study led by Meghan L. Butryn of Drexel University and published in the journal Obesity, studied the long-term maintenance success of members of the National Weight Control Registry. She and her colleagues found that participants who stopped weighing themselves after reaching maintenance, frequently experienced an increase in weight.
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Add 100 calories a day the third week after you reach your goal weight. Focus on adding healthy calories like one apple and a half an ounce of cheese. One hundred calories is not very much food, so measure, weigh and read the food labels to be sure you are not adding too many calories at once. Eat an extra piece of bread with dinner and five crackers with lunch. Continue weighing yourself daily. As the National Institute of Health explains, if you take in more calories, or energy than you need, you will gain weight.
Continue the fourth week by reviewing your daily weight graph. If you are losing a small amount of weight, you can be assured that you are close to finding the balance point. If you maintain your weight during week three, do not add any more calories. If you are losing, add another 100 calories. Eat a snack of granola and raisins, an extra 1/2 cup of pasta with dinner or a whole sandwich rather than a half or a second helping of cereal.
Continue adding 100 calories a week until you are not losing nor gaining weight. To avoid the common problem of regaining lost weight, be diligent in watching your food intake until you sense that your new way of eating is something you can continue forever. Dr. David A. Kessler, author of the book "The End of Overeating," concludes his book by saying that you must take control over your emotions and thoughts surrounding food to maintain a healthy weight.
Adjust your caloric intake in the weeks and months after your weight loss success based on your weight tracking and your level of physical activity. If you begin to exercise or exercise more after you reach your goal weight, add a few extra calories a day. If you weigh 160 pounds, and walk for 30 minutes, you burn about 90 calories, according to the MayoClinic. Add between 50 to 90 calories to your daily maintenance calories and track your weight for signs of stability. Cut your calories if you stop exercising or change the amount of exercise you do.
Continue meeting with a support group after you reach your goal weight.
Ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable during the first year of maintenance.
Donate clothes that no longer fit you.
Try new recipes and learn how to handle restaurant meals.
Consult with a doctor if you are unable to maintain your weight loss.
- Obesity: Consistent Self-Monitoring of Weight: A Key Component of Successful Weight Loss Maintenance
- National Institutes of Health: Why Is a Healthy Weight Important?
- American Psychologist: Medicare's Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- CNNHealth: Weight Maintenance: Keep the Weight Off Permanently