Unless you’ve been working hard at the gym and packing on the muscle mass, it’s no fun when the numbers on the scale start to climb before your eyes—especially if you’re gaining back what you just lost. Often once you reach your weight-loss goals, maintaining that ideal weight can be even harder than getting there in the first place. In fact, a Stanford University study claims that only 5 percent of people are able to pull off this feat! It’s not hard to do the math; that means 95 percent pile the pounds right back on.
Even so, we believe that you can beat the odds. Keeping weight off isn’t impossible if you’re willing to put the work in and follow these science-backed solutions. That’s why we’re not just going to let you in on some instant weight-loss secrets, but teach you how to maintain so you can look good for good.
Just Move It
If you part with your gym membership, don’t be surprised when you have to wave goodbye to that new and improved number on the scale, too. Successful losers have a much better chance of maintaining their weight loss when they continue their regular workout routine—or, at the very least, don’t bounce from gym rat straight to couch potato. According to University of Alabama researchers, not working out after weight loss will result in a metabolism dip. Their study claims that people who do 40 minutes of lifting or cardio three times a week keep burning calories at the same rate. Get up and get moving; even taking a walk is one of the 42 Ways To Lose 5 Inches Of Belly Fat.
Step On The Scale
Looks like weighing yourself is the way to go. When Cornell researchers pushed study participants to lose 10 percent of their body weight, those who accomplished this in the program’s first year were able to keep the pounds at bay throughout a second year as well. The reason for this? Researchers think stepping on the scale played a large factor, as this became a daily reinforcer for participants to continue effective behaviors like eating less and exercising more. While this was more effective in the males being studied, David Levitsky, senior author, recommends using a simple bathroom scale and Excel spreadsheet to track progress and keep things moving in a positive direction.
Find Fit Friends
It’s possible that maintaining weight loss has more to do with your contact list than your grocery store buys and gym routine. Think about it: if you’re surrounded by friends with fatty habits, some of those bad behaviors are bound to rub off on you. And if your loved ones aren’t supportive of the sacrifices you have to make for your bod goals—for instance, your roommate won’t stop stocking the freezer with your favorite flavor of ice cream—good luck staying on track. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that a person’s chances of becoming obese increases by 57 percent if one of their close friends is obese.
Write It Out
If you’re interested in doubling your weight loss, keep a notebook and a pencil on hand at all times. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that even though 1,700 participants exercised 30 minutes a day and ate diets rich in fruit and veggies, the more food records people kept, the more weight they lost in the long run. Those who didn’t keep a record at all only experienced half as much loss. So start this healthy habit and hold onto it even after you’ve hit your mark to stay mindful of your munching.
Home Is Where The Health Is
The next time you’re tempted to go out for dinner, try whipping something up at home instead. Limiting your outside intake may be the key to keeping off the weight you’ve lost. When the National Weight Control Registry surveyed its members, those who lost 30 pounds or more and maintained that for at least a year didn’t frequent fast food chains too often. In fact, only 0.74 of their weekly meals were of the drive-thru variety, while 2.5 were at a restaurant. It’s better to get your grub from the grocery store instead of ordering off of a menu.
Give Treatment A Try
There’s a new therapy in town and, according to a study published in Obesity, it helps people lose more weight and keep it off longer. While standard behavioral treatment (SBT) is the norm for encouraging patients to decrease caloric intake and increase physical activity, acceptance-based behavioral treatment (ABT) has all the same behavioral skills but links weight loss efforts to a larger personal value. People who tried ABT didn’t just experience 36 percent more loss than SBT patients, they also had a higher likelihood of maintaining 10 percent weight loss 12 months later. Worth looking into, right?
Don’t Avoid Flavonoids
Getting your daily dose of fruits and veggies is even more important than you thought it was. Not only is colorful produce healthy and low-cal, but it’ll often contain flavonoids, a plant compound that can stave off weight gain. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found that out of 124,000 middle-aged and older people, those eating a flavonoid-rich diet had more success maintaining their weight than those who didn’t. Get a liquid boost of the stuff with a glass of green tea; it’s full of flavonoids as well.
You probably wouldn’t think body maintenance has anything to do with sitting in front of your computer, but it does. A little screen time goes a long way when you engage in interactive weight management websites. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, consistently logging on and recording food records, activity levels, and the number on your scale once a month for almost three years resulted in maintaining the most loss. To be more specific, these active users kept off an average of 9 out of 19 pounds they lost in the first place.
Give A Program A Go
Maintenance is hard, but we’ve got good news! You don’t have to do it alone. A study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that low-intensity interventions could help obese outpatients who had just lost 16 pounds hold onto the progress they’d made. For 56 weeks, participants spoke to intervention contacts in group visits at first, then over the telephone with less and less frequency. By the end of the study, they weren’t in contact with anybody at all but still managed to only regain an average of 1.5 pounds. Those who hadn’t had any intervention contacts regained over three times as much weight. So whether you participate in a program or phone a friend, find people who can hold you accountable as you work to maintain your success.
Ease Into The Junk
If you used a very-low-energy diet to help you slim down (think: shakes and soups), you’ll be widening that waist in no time if you jump right back into normal food. While no one’s saying you have to live off of this strict regimen forever, you do need to ease your way back into the good stuff. And by ease back into it, we mean you should take six weeks to slowly incorporate your favorite foods back onto your plate. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that people who were eating normally within a week gained back twice as much weight in ten months as those who took six weeks to reintroduce regular food. So it must be true; slow and steady does win the race. But when in doubt, This Trick Can Keep Weight Off For Good, too.