Tactics Are Different for Weight Loss, Maintenance

1. Exercise daily

“Activity becomes the driver; food restriction doesn’t do it,” says Hill.  “The idea that for the rest of your life you’re going to be hungry all the time — that’s just silly.”

Successful maintainers average about 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Many do up to 90 minutes a day.

As Hill states, people “get to the point with physical activity where they don’t say they love it, but they say ‘it’s part of my life’.”

2. Control calorie and fat intake

Successful maintainers keep their diet relatively controlled.

Fat intake, as recorded by Hill, was around 25% of their diet.

To me, the most important part is that they had a greater food awareness. Even the simple knowledge of how much fat, carbohydrate, and protein they’re eating, as well as appropriate portion sizing, helps them control their weight permanently.

3. Eat breakfast

Everyone reading this should know the importance of breakfast. But many people don’t. So spread the word.

Nearly every individual successful in long-term weight loss maintenance eats breakfast every single day.


If you’re maintaining your healthy weight, you share this!

4. Weigh in

Although weighing in has become taboo, according to Dr Hill’s research (as well as research from Brown University), weighing in regularly helps improve weight loss and weight loss maintenance in research participants.

Again, it comes down to awareness. If you know how many calories you’re consuming, and you know how much you weigh any given week, you can adjust your intake or exercise program as you require.

If you don’t have this information, you’re expecting to lose weight (or maintain your loss) on a wing and a prayer.

Tactics Are Different for Weight Loss, Maintenance

Thanks for the A2A Sunil Kumar

This is what I have as my summary and recommendations after all these years, which would be the combination of cardiovascular work and resistance training.

Be it Keto, Intermittent fasting, Atkins, OMAD and excluding the hormonal stuff that each diet has. The diets would generally require a higher expenditure as compared to intake for it to work.

Depending where you would be with regards to the status and the amount of effort you would be willing to do, would determine the amount of weight that you would potentially lose during this time frame.

These would be my n…

Losing weight is the (relatively) easy part, saysJames O. Hill, PhD, a professor of pediatrics and medicine and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado at Denver. Hill and colleagues are keeping track of those who can maintain their weight loss via the National Weight Control Registry.

The new study «reinforces what we have been saying about differences between losing weight and keeping it off,» he tells WebMD.

It is a three-phase process: weight loss, transition to maintenance, and maintaining the weight loss, Hill says.

«Getting the weight off is only one task, which is followed by switching your mind-set to a more permanent way of living so you keep it off,» he says.

The second part of the battle can be an uphill one, and it’s one of the reasons that so many high-profile celebrities lose weight only to regain it. «People still want to concentrate on losing weight, but the harder part is keeping it off,» he says.

Hill says that increasing physical activity is essential to maintaining any weight loss.

«Unless you are able to ramp up your physical activity in a pretty major way, you won’t keep the weight off,» he says. Another key ingredient is a strong social support system. «You need to create the right kind of social network to reinforce the routine of both diet and exercise.»

Timothy Harlan, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, a former restaurateur known as «Dr. Gourmet,» and author of Just Tell Me What to Eat!, says that the key to maintaining weight loss involves changing our mind-set.

«If you want to be healthy, lose weight, and keep it off, you need to change the way you eat,» he says.

The word diet implies a beginning and an end and sets you up for failure, Harlan says,

«Eating healthy and being healthy is a lifelong prescription,» he says. «If you want to lose weight and you want to keep it off, you have to completely change your relationship with food forever.»

«Planning is the single most important thing people can do to lose weight and maintain that loss,» Harlan says. This means planning what you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it — same as you plan your children’s schedule and your workday. This may involve packing your own lunch and not skipping breakfast.

An estimated 20 percent of overweight and obese Americans have lost weight and kept it off — which might make you feel alternately inspired and a little underwhelmed.

There are a lot of opinions about losing weight, but what many dieters learn firsthand is that it can be just as difficult, if not more so, to maintain that weight loss, and yet the discussion surrounding maintenance is noticeably quieter.

The National Weight Control Registry was founded in 1994 to try to further that discussion. The Registry’s goal is to identify successful weight loss maintainers and study the habits, behaviors, skills and attitudes they share. Currently, the Registry tracks more than 10,000 Americans over the age of 18 who have maintained at least a 30-pound weight loss for a year or longer.

Many have maintained much larger losses for much longer periods of time, says J. Graham Thomas, Ph.D., a co-investigator at the Registry and an assistant professor of research at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School. He shared with The Huffington Post some of the commonalities borne out in the Registry’s research so far. Although the individuals who have volunteered themselves for study are obviously a highly motivated (and self-selected) group — 87 percent maintained their weight loss over 10 years in 2014 research — it can’t hurt to emulate some of their best tricks.

Here are a few of the things successful weight maintainers do differently.

1. They make the transition from losing to maintaining as seamless as possible.
Losing weight in a way that is closest to what maintaining will feel like may bring about the most success. «In general our philosophy is that the optimal way to lose weight is a way in which the changes from weight loss to maintenance are minimized,» says Thomas. «If you lose weight on a very unusual diet, for example where you’re only eating one type of food or you’re on a liquid meal plan, it can make it more difficult to transition to maintenance. You maybe know what to do for weight loss, but then you have to relearn what to do to eat a normal healthy diet,» he says. As if you needed another reason not to try the grapefruit diet.

Instead, learning right off the bat what it feels like to consume a more wholesome diet and incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine will help build healthier patterns that truly last. «Ideally, relatively little has to change, and in that way it facilitates the transition into maintenance,» says Thomas. «It’s not that they necessarily did something very different in the two different phases.»

2. They are active. Really active.
weight maintenance physical activity
The average Registry maintainer logs at least 200 minutes a week of physical activity, says Thomas. There’s limited data currently as to what kind of role the type of exercise plays; what’s more important is simply moving more, even if it’s just brisk walking, he says.

In fact, successful maintainers may be even more active than people who have always been at a healthy weight, according to 2007 research. In that study, participants who had always been at a healthy weight were more likely to engage in 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity, where more maintainers sweated it out for more than 60 minutes at a time.

3. They don’t spend as much time in front of the TV.
So how do they find the time to fit in all that fitness? «Part of it appears to be coming from decreased screen time, particularly with television viewing,» says Thomas. Registry members log less than 10 hours of TV time a week, while the average American adult watches more like 28. (Scary, isn’t it?)

But limited time on the couch is important for another reason: For many of us, TV time also means snack time. «By cutting down on TV time and increasing physical activity there may be a duel benefit of additional calorie burn and also potentially reducing eating that would otherwise occur,» says Thomas.

4. They are consistent with their eating habits.
There are some similarities between Registry members when it comes to their preferred style of eating, but the approach that’s right for one person isn’t always right for the next, says Thomas. He stresses that it’s possible to lose and maintain weight on a variety of diets and eating plans. What may be more important, he says, is variety — or lack thereof.

«Evidence suggests that one of the reasons we have a weight problem in the U.S. is changes to the food environment that have made delicious, high-calorie food easily accessible,» he says. «The Registry members seem to limit their exposure to the variety of foods in the environment by eating the same foods over and over again.»

Instead of selecting the day’s lunch from all possible options, successful maintainers stick to a set of foods they know they can be successful with, he says. And they’re highly consistent. «[They] don’t tend to splurge on weekends, holidays or other special occasions,» says Thomas.

5. They find support.
social support weight maintenance
Accomplishing just about any goal feels more attainable with a team of cheerleaders by your side. Social support has been linked to weight loss and maintenance in research and anecdotally among couples, friends and groups who tackle their goals together. Whether it’s making a date with a gym buddy or checking in with a fitness-tracking app, sharing maintenance plans with a support team can help you stay accountable. Upcoming Registry research aims to examine both social support and technology use among maintainers, says Thomas.

6. They stay positive.
Anecdotally, says Thomas, the Registry members he has spoken with tend to concentrate on the good. «They have a real focus on the positive, the benefits of weight loss,» he says. «You don’t often hear them talk about feeling deprived or wishing they were spending their time doing something other than physical activity … [or] always being fearful of regaining weight.»

Instead, successful maintainers focus on how much better they feel, how they’re able to do more physically than before or that they’re finding more enjoyment in life, he says. «They talk about how they’ve gotten so many benefits and it’s been such a positive experience that they can’t imagine going back to old habits.»

Whether those reactions are based on the ways in which they’ve lost the weight or an intrinsic rosy outlook, maintenance doesget a little easier over time, at least. According to a 2000 study of Registry participants, the longer a person maintained weight loss, the less effort and attention it took.

7. They get enough sleep.
Although the sleep habits of Registry members have yet to be researched, there’s an abundance of evidence showing that when we don’t get enough sleep, we rely on more food to energize our days. And, unfortunately, our sleep-deprived cravings are not usually for the most nutritious option.

Simply skimping on sleep probably won’t single-handedly ruin weight maintenance goals, but arming yourself with sufficient shut-eye is certainly a good place to start.

8. They track their progress…
weight maintenance track progress
Registry members weigh themselves on the regular, with 38 percent saying they weigh in daily and 75 percent at least weekly. Doing so, says Thomas, makes it «possible to detect any weight gain while it stays relatively small, before it becomes a much bigger problem.»

9. …but they don’t judge what they see on the scale.
Successful maintainers keep the number on the scale in perspective. «It’s important to be able to see the weight on the scale primarily as information and not as how you should feel about yourself for the day,» says Thomas. «With anybody, there’s going to be fluctuations of up to a few pounds from day to day based on factors other than changes in fat tissue. Fluid balance, for example, can produce a change in weight of up to a few pounds from day to day … You’re not necessarily interpreting any change in a single day or two to be highly significant. Rather, you’re looking at the trend over the course of weeks. You’re using it as information to guide behavior and not as a way to determine self-worth.»

Whether you’re reading this because you’ve reached your goal weight or because you’re getting close—congratulations on your success! Now you’re ready to make the shift from weight loss to weight maintenance, but wondering where to begin. What you’ll find out is that there are quite a few things you’ll need to think about to make this transition a successful one.

Some of them are pretty simple and straightforward, like recalculating your calorie needs range and setting up reasonable exercise goals that are focused more on fitness and fun than calorie burning. Some may prove to be a little more complex—like coming up with new goals, directions, and sources of motivation that will help you keep your healthy lifestyle on track. And some of the things you may need to think about are likely to be quite unexpected and surprising.

If you’re like me, you may discover that, along with solving a lot of problems for you, getting healthier and losing the weight has given you a lot of new options and possibilities that you never expected to have—some of which are as terrifying as they are exciting! Or maybe it will dawn on you that your new lifestyle has also had some pretty big effects on your relationships, some of which may need some attention or changing if you want to maintain what you’ve accomplished and keep moving your life forward.

Whatever particular challenges this transition presents for you, you can be sure that this new stage of your journey is going to be very interesting. Many people manage to get where you are now, very few manage to maintain that success, and much less keep moving ahead. What will determine your success is how well you identify the particular challenges you face and find effective ways to manage them.

The good news is that you already have most of the tools, information, and support you’re going to need to maintain your success. It’s all right here at SparkPeople! And if you’ve gotten this far, you already know how to use these tools effectively. You’ll just need to shift your approach a little. Use our Weight Maintenance Lifestyle Center to find the information, support and tips you need.

Get ready to maintain your success!

Avoid rigid eating after weight loss.

Kris Bennett, RDN, CD, the outpatient dietitian at Watertown Regional Medical Center in Wisconsin reminds us to avoid an overly restrictive diet. “Restricting or avoiding some foods are common pitfalls,” says Bennett.

She explains that when someone restricts a certain food, they tend to crave it, and may even overeat other foods trying to avoid the one they crave. They may also eventually binge on the craved food.

Allow for small, portion-controlled amounts of favorite foods during the week. If you budget in your diet for that food and don’t make it a daily habit, you’ll find it won’t have the power to derail your healthy eating.

Calories do count.

Finding your daily calorie maintenance level is a bit of a dance. But with patience and time, you’ll find your sweet spot.  Keep in mind that everyone has his or her own unique metabolism and number of calories needed to maintain weight.

The road to successful weight maintenance is through making positive lifestyle changes and staying consistent with those changes. It takes time to change lifelong patterns, so be patient with yourself, and keep your workouts consistent with your Aaptiv app. And if you backslide, remember you can get back on track your next meal.

Common features of weight maintainers

According to Dr Hill, successful maintenance plans share these features:

Eat mindfully.

Incorporate conscious eating habits at meals. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll avoid mindless eating. This includes the kind of snacking that is so off the radar that you don’t even remember how much you eat.

Mindful eating allows you to better process your body’s signals and stop when your body says it’s full. To do this, make mealtime the main event. Set the table, turn off the television and phone, and just enjoy the meal.

Slow down your eating and savor each bite. Allow yourself to think about the aroma, texture, and taste of the food. Set your utensil down between bites as you chew, and stop for a drink after several bites.

Mindful eating may be a challenge for you, as we tend to eat on the run and value quick meals in our culture. Be patient and give yourself time to learn how to change a lifetime of eating habits.

Eat only when you’re hungry.

Pay close attention to your body’s signals to learn the difference between real hunger and stress or boredom eating. Try to determine whether your body is feeling actually hungry (your stomach is growling) or your hunger is a response to an emotional cue.

This can be a difficult thing to determine at first. It may take time to learn true hunger cues versus old stress response eating habits. The first step is becoming mindful of the cues, avoiding an immediate response (such as grabbing a donut and eating it before thinking about whether you’re truly hungry), and making healthier choices.

If food has been a source of emotional comfort, you’ll need to find positive replacements for it. It can be very helpful to work with a counselor who is experienced in emotional eating disorders. She can offer tools for successfully replacing emotional eating with healthier choices, and provide the support needed as you make this transition.

Eat protein at each meal.

Protein can help you curb your appetite because it reduces a hormone responsible for hunger, helping you feel full sooner and stay satiated longer. Include at least 20 grams of protein in every meal. Make sure your snacks also include protein to help give them staying power.

Ideally, protein will make up about 30 percent of your daily diet. Choose lean, low-fat sources (like these), such as fish, lean cuts of meat and poultry, and low-fat dairy. Most adults aren’t getting enough protein in their diet and need to up their intake, especially as they age, so make it a key part of every meal.

Expect setbacks.

Yep, there will times when you just couldn’t say no to the extra helping of cake, you had just a little too much to drink, or you lost your control at the appetizer table. That’s life. Learning how to handle dietary slips and get back on track is probably the most essential tool for maintaining weight loss.

When you do have a bad food day, be done with it when your head hits the pillow. You can always start fresh the next morning. Those three donuts are history. Holding onto any feelings of guilt associated with your diet will only derail your self-esteem and determination.

Chalk them up as a delicious detour and get back on the healthy eating train. Besides, now that your normal diet consists of healthy food, those donuts (or whatever your slip food was) probably left you feeling lousy–a good reinforcement to stay on track.

Finding 1: No one really lost all that much weight.

Yes, even though the Atkins group lost the most weight over the course of the study, the total amount of weight lost was very modest. The Atkins group lost about 9 lbs while the other groups lost about 5 lbs.

When you consider the study lasted a year, this rate of weight loss is downright disappointing.

When researchers looked at participants’ dietary records, it became clear that the groups really weren’t following their respective diets all that well.

That could explain the relatively poor weight loss progress. And it could explain the lack of differences between groups.

Get your sleep.

Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can disrupt your body’s hunger signals. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, your body becomes less glucose sensitive. The hunger hormone ghrelin is increased, while the appetite control hormone leptin is decreased.

  • Stay as consistent as possible with the time you go to sleep and get up. Don’t sleep extra on weekends thinking that it’ll help you catch up. That’ll just disrupt your brain’s sleep schedule.
  • Shut down all electronic screens several hours before bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom sleep friendly by adding blackout shades if outside light is a problem. Remove any other sources of light (electronic alarm clocks, phone chargers).
  • Try wearing earplugs if you’re sensitive to noise. There are several types of earplugs available, so try them out to find ones that are comfortable.
  • Turn down the room temperature. Research has shown that keeping the temperature between 60-67 degrees at night improves sleep quality.
  • If you can’t sleep, make it a rule that the kitchen is off limits after your evening meal. Rewarding not sleeping with food can create a bad habit.

How do we know what works?

But right now, I don’t want to focus on weight loss at all. Rather, I want to focus on the differences between weight loss and maintaining weight loss. These are two very different things.

Dr James Hill, psychologist and authority on weight loss, had an interesting take on this in a commentary in Scientific American. He said that he’s not terribly interested in comparing diets or devising new ones. He wants to know about people who have lost weight, and then kept it off for good.

“The Atkins diet is a great way to lose weight… But it is not a way to keep weight off. There’s no way you can do it forever… I think the weight-loss part is something we [already] do pretty well,” he says.

He oversees the National Weight Control Registry to collect data on people who have cut at least 30 pounds and kept them off for a year.

People’s experiences of weight loss are diverse.

  • The average is a 70-pound weight loss maintained for six years. But some people have lost 100 lbs or more.
  • Duration of successful weight loss has ranged from 1 year to 66 years (!)
  • Some people lost it quickly, some people lost it slowly.

“If you look at how they lost weight, there’s no commonality at all,” Hill says. But “if you look at how they kept it off, there’s a lot of commonality.”

The NWCR currently tracks about 5,000 successful weight maintainers. Here’s what they’ve found.

Keep a food journal.

The last thing you probably feel like doing after a diet is writing down what you eat. Keeping a food journal during the first weeks of maintenance, though, can make the difference between success or failure.

Writing down everything you eat makes you stop and take the time to really pay attention to your diet. And keeping a record is vital for making changes to your caloric intake if the scale starts to creep up.

Learn more

Want to get in the best shape of your life, and stay that way for good? Check out the following 5-day body transformation courses.

The best part? They’re totally free.

To check out the free courses, just click one of the links below.

Portion control is your friend.

The typical serving size for foods such as bagels, muffins and restaurant meals has steadily increased over the past decades. So how do you determine what’s a normal serving size? Learn to estimate by comparing to other objects.

Determine the actual content size of your bowls and cups by filling your serving ware with water and measuring it, or use dry foods like oatmeal or rice to fill and measure. When adding oil to a dish while cooking or dressing always take the time to measure it out instead of just pouring.

Bennett has her clients use aids such as choosemyPlate.gov as a guide for meal portion size. It takes the guesswork out of portions and makes it so much easier to determine how much you should be eating after weight loss.

What’s the difference?

Goal Weight loss Weight maintenance
Duration Temporary; short term Life-long
Speed Ranges from slow and steady (PN style) or rapid approach (Get Shredded) What speed? I’m already here! The time is now!
Amount of change Small to large changesMay “fall off the wagon” bigtime and backslide significantly Very small changes; awareness of slight fluctuations in weight from day to dayQuickly responds to very small deviations; gets back on track rapidly with little harm done
Potential mindset Learn new habits”Get ‘er done”Deprivation, limiting options Stick with good habits already learnedPatiencePersistence

Continuous adjustment

Flexibility within reason

Composition of diet Can range dramatically: low fat, low carb, Mediterranean, etc. etc.Often a focus on strictly eliminating or limiting a certain macronutrient, or eating “special foods” (e.g. grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet) Some variation, but most importantly, all involve careful monitoring and self-awarenessMust be an eating pattern that can be sustained for life
Typical actions Regular observation and monitoring (may be less frequent to allow progress to occur)Regular exerciseFocus on food choices Daily observation and monitoring — including weigh-insRegular exerciseOngoing, habitual healthy food choices

If you’ve noticed that the last columns look much the same, you’re right. Weight maintenance carries over the good habits that were built (ideally) during the weight loss phase.

If you’re hoping to diet down to your ideal weight, then quit working on it, you’re in for a surprise. Just like you don’t brush your teeth once and then forget about it, research shows that staying at a healthy weight requires regular effort, exercise, and a long-term focus.

And here’s one more finding from the NWCR: 62% of successful weight maintainers watch less than 10 hours of TV per week. Turn off the TV, eat breakfast, and haul out that bathroom scale!

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