Post Goal Survival Tips

Sometimes keeping weight the off can be harder than it was to lose it in the first place.
Post Goal Survival Tips

Taking pounds off is only the first part of the weight-loss journey. Keeping them off is as important, and for some people, can be even more challenging than initial weight loss. "While you're losing weight you're very focused — there's a specific end goal," says Suzanne Henson, RD, director of the EatRight Weight Management Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "But when it comes to maintaining weight loss, you have to have a different mentality."

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While you're losing weight, you have the gratification of watching the numbers on the scale get smaller and of hearing compliments from friends and family. Maintaining weight loss is less glamorous, however, and you have to figure out ways to replace that outward gratification and praise from others with an internal reward system. Instead of being motivated by the numbers on the scale, motivation has to start coming from how you feel — stronger, more energetic and less moody.

Sometimes, reaching a goal weight can be scary. "Some people are afraid of success," says Dale Reynolds, author of A Slim Book on Weighty Matters (Woodland Hills Publishers, 2003). They worry that their lives will change, that they won't be able to maintain their weight loss, or that relationships with friends may change — particularly if those friendships revolved around food, she says.

Others, says Henson, think that losing a certain amount of weight is going to solve the problems in their life. "But that is just not the case."

How can you maintain your weight loss? Here are some tips:

Be realistic. Losing weight will improve your health and give you more energy, but it won't cure a bad marriage or make a disliked job bearable. If weight loss brings up issues that you aren't sure how to handle, talk them over with a trusted friend or see a therapist for help.

Exercise. Regular exercise is the key to maintaining weight loss. Record how often you walk, run, swim or cycle and refer back to it if the pounds start to creep back on. You'll probably find you're letting workouts slip.

Weigh yourself regularly. Hop on the scale daily, weekly or monthly — whatever you're most comfortable with. If you've gained a pound or two, look back. Have you been eating larger portions? Exercising less? Figure out where you've strayed, and get back on track fast. "It's much easier to deal with two to five pounds than with twenty," Henson says.

Reward yourself. Treat yourself to a manicure, a vacation, an afternoon in the hammock or a day off from work to celebrate maintenance milestones.

Keep up the good work. Continue to read labels, measure portions and track what you eat. "This is a journey, not a destination," Reynolds says. "You have to keep working."

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