So, you’ve lost your first few pounds, hit the 10 lb. mark, or maybe even hit your goal weight. Congrats! Getting started is often the hardest part. While you should be celebrating the small and large victories all day long, we want to remind you to hit the pause button every once-in-a-while to make sure you’re approaching your weight loss goals in a sustainable and realistic way to set yourself up for long term success. The reality is, in the weight loss game, the majority of folks who lose weight will end up gaining it back. Studies show, more than 80% of weight lost will be regained within 5 years.

We are here to help you throw that statistic to the curb and keep the weight off once and for all. Use these 4 tips to help approach weight maintenance in a positive, healthy way and keep the weight off for good:

#1: Is your ‘diet’ sustainable?

When many approach weight loss they utilize a specific diet plan. Unfortunately, the term ‘diet’ usually coincides with a very restrictive plan that doesn’t lend itself to a long-term lifestyle change. Diets that promote extreme calorie restriction or restricting an entire food group often cause weight loss to plateau or even halt within one year making continued and sustained weight loss more difficult. It’s important to find a weight loss approach that can be treated as a long-term lifestyle change so that your weight loss is sustainable and goals can continue to be achieved.

What makes a weight loss plan sustainable? Instead of committing to one specific and restrictive plan, focus on these long-term changes to help you go from weight loss to weight management:

·      Focus more on diet composition instead of restricting and cutting calories or specific food groups. For example, studies suggest, diets higher in protein may contribute to maintaining weight loss by keeping you more satisfied and full longer.

·      Focus less on what you can or cannot eat and more on behavioral strategies. Frequent self-monitoring, portion control, swapping restaurant meals for at-home meals, and more frequent, smaller meals are all behaviors associated with long-term weight loss success.

·      Focus less on the scale and more on internal health improvements. Long-term weight management success improves when the motivation comes more from personal goals such as health improvements, like reduced medication use, or risk factor reductions, such as improved cholesterol levels, rather than the needle on the scale moving.

#2. Ditch the “all or nothing” approach

No one is perfect and you’re going to have set backs. And guess what, that is completely ok. Just because you have one set back, doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and give up. Instead of beating yourself up about it, recognize those slip ups and use it as an opportunity to learn from it. Identifying specific patterns, such as stress eating or negative self-talk that might be causing these actions are the first step to preventing them in the future. Keep a journal or utilize a food tracker app to help identify the problem and what might be triggering you. Learn from these irregular eating patterns to help prevent weight loss set-backs in the future.

#3. Set attainable goals with positive rewards

It’s important to set realistic goals realistic so that you are not setting yourself up for failure right out of the gate. Start small and as you find a good cadence increase the goals as you go. Create milestones to hit and identify rewards that motivate you. Rewarding weight loss with a cheat day or indulgent treat is counterintuitive to a positive lifestyle change, so choose rewards that promote a continued, healthy lifestyle such as new workout gear or a massage.

Remember to set SMART goals:

Specific - Make sure your weight loss goals are clearly defined and specific so there is no room for ambiguity or excuses.

Measure - How will you measure and quantify your progress? Using a fitness and/or food tracking app to monitor your daily exercise efforts and everything you eat will ensure that you hold yourself accountable as well as help monitor progress and achieved goals.

Achievable - Make sure your goals are a stretch so that it’s a challenge but not so wild that they’re impossible to achieve.

Realistic - Are the goals you’ve set realistic for your lifestyle? Keep each goal you set in check so you can fully commit and don’t lose motivation.

Timeline - Setting a realistic timeline creates urgency to achieve your goals.

#4. Make mindful eating AND exercise choices

When you strip weight loss down to the bare bones, it’s all about the input vs. output (aka calories in/calories out). For that to be successful, it’s important to find a positive balance of food intake and adequate exercise. Studies show, those who track their food intake may be more likely to lose weight and/or keep the weight off. Utilize a food tracking app to help keep you aware of what you’ve eaten throughout the day and help deter from over snacking or mindless eating. The other half of the equation is regular exercise. Regular exercise may help boost metabolism as well as burn additional calories and increase energy. That’s certainly a winning duo in our book!