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Maintaining a Healthy Weight


You have worked hard to lose your excess body fat and developed some new eating and exercise methods that now need to become habit.

Once you have achieved a desired weight, a positive attitude is very important in your efforts to successfully manage it. To lose weight permanently, you must make a commitment to gradually adopt a healthier way of life. Maintaining your new weight is not an easy task, but it will become easier over time once your choices become new habits. This will take time and perseverance.

Maintaining your new weight is not an impossible task. It simply means burning the same amount of calories that you eat. Eating smaller portions and choosing foods that are low in total fat and added sugar, are essential to maintaining your desired weight. Establishing a regular exercise routine is equally important.

Tips to help maintain your new weight

Motivation is a key to maintaining a healthy weight. Remind yourself of your motivation daily.

Build support from family members, friends or join a support group

With the help of your dietitian, determine a calorie goal for weight maintenance. This can be more accurately determined with a simple breathing test.

Set a maximum weight for yourself – a weight which you will not let yourself go above. Then weigh yourself weekly or monthly. If you are nearing your maximum weight, increase your focus on portion sizes, food choices, exercise and attitude.

Eat fewer calories by cutting down on portions and/or decreasing the total amount of fat and sugar in your diet.

Limit added fats such as fried foods, margarine/butter, salad dressing, rich sauces, gravy, and mayonnaise. Season instead with herbs, lemon, vinegar, wine and low-calorie marinades.

Do not skip meals; 4-5 “mini-meals” may help to satisfy your hunger while keeping your weight under control

Do not “starve” yourself. That can leave you to feeling deprived and increase the temptation to binge (eat an uncontrolled, excessive amount). Rather apply the techniques that helped you meet your goal weight.

Keep low calorie, low-fat snacks on hand such as popcorn, raw vegetables with low calorie dips or fruit.

Choose foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads, high fiber cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and fruits and vegetables.

Keep a food and exercise journal. Write down everything you eat or drink including portion sizes. Be honest and accurate, otherwise the journal is not as helpful. The food journal will help you learn about your eating habits and help you assess the food choices you are making. Try web-based journals for easy calorie counting.

Limit the variety foods available to you to only the healthiest options. Avoid buffets and stuffed refrigerators.

Keep trigger foods out of the house and/or office.

Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week and a minimum of 20 minutes of strength training twice a week. You may need 45-90 minutes of exercise per day; try breaking up sessions into 3 – 15 minute periods. Look for small chunks of time that you can get in some exercise.

Try using a pedometer and aim for 10,000 -15,000 steps daily.
Foods to choose for weight management

Breads and Grains
4 or more servings/day – Focus on Whole Grains

Breads, rolls, buns
English muffins
Rice cakes
Low-fat crackers (such as matzo, bread sticks, rye crisps, saltines)
Hot and cold cereals
Spaghetti, macaroni, noodles, rice
Plain baked potato

Fruits and Vegetables
5 or more servings/day

Fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruits (in own juice)
Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables

Meat, Fish, Poultry
2-3 servings per day

Lean cuts of meat with fat trimmed*
Chicken and turkey without skin*
Dried beans

* Bake, boil, broil, roast, grill or poach

2 or more servings/day (3 to 4 servings for pregnant or breastfeeding women)

Low-fat milk
Low-fat yogurt
Low-fat cottage cheese
Low-fat cheese with no more than 3 grams of fat per ounce

Fats and Oils
In limited amounts

Olive, canola, or peanut oils
Nuts, seeds, salad dressing

Sweets and Snacks
In limited amounts

Baked goods
Frozen desserts

© Copyright 1995-2010 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

To read more articles from The Cleveland Clinic, visit http://my.clevelandclinic.org/

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