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You've Lost the Weight - Do You Know How to Maintain It?

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Losing weight is a feat in itself, but keeping it off, for some, can be even more challenging. The most successful losers are the ones who create a healthy lifestyle - they eat foods and perform activities that they enjoy and can easily do for the rest of their lives.

The National Weight Control Registry, the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance, has compiled data on over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for years. Below you'll find some of the things these individuals do to maintain their weight and lifestyle.

Seventy-eight percent eat breakfast every day.

Eating a balanced and healthy breakfast can provide you with the energy you need to get your day going, and may help you avoid getting overly hungry and overeating later on in the day. Eating carbohydrates will give your body energy, but don't forget to include some protein and/or healthy fats to keep you full.

Seventy-five percent weigh themselves at least once a week.

Keeping track of what's happening - not only with your weight, but also what you're putting in your mouth, and how much time you're being active keeps you accountable. You may find it helpful to keep a log. Research shows that people who track their efforts lose twice as much as people who don't.

Sixty-two percent watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.

The more time we spend watching TV, the less time we spend being active. According to the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal, metabolic rate is lower when watching television than performing other sedentary activities like reading, sewing, or playing a board game. Additionally, the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that watching multiple hours of television is a risk for obesity.

Ninety percent exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

According to the University of Chicago Medicine, "Activity that uses 1,500 to 2,000 calories per week is recommended for maintaining weight loss." For most people this equates to 60-90 minutes a day. Exercise doesn't have to be formal exercise, it can be any combination of the things you enjoy whether it's gardening, walking, dancing, playing sports, etc.

Other tips, offered by health professionals, institutes, and agencies include:

Be prepared for the unpredictable.

If you know that you are an emotional eater, make sure you figure out healthy ways to handle stress before it hits. Some options could be to go for a walk, call a friend, or talk to a professional. If you love party foods, make sure you eat a filling and healthy meal before you go so that you can enjoy small portions of treats without going overboard. If time gets away from you often and you aren't able to eat regular meals, make sure you have healthy snacks within reach.

Know what you're eating.

Make sure you're keeping an eye on what you're eating, mainly watching your overall calorie intake. Get familiar with food labels and be sure to check out nutrition content of foods before you go out to eat.

Lapses are okay, relapses are not.

A lapse is a small slip in your efforts while a relapse is a complete return to previous eating and activity patterns. A lapse is okay, don't beat yourself up over it. It's not a failure -- look at your next meal as a chance to recommit to your healthy lifestyle. Relapses, however are typically associated with significant regain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note it is important to identify situations that could be high-risk and prepare a plan to deal with those situations.

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Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator who holds both a bachelor's degree in nutrition and in journalism. Mandy currently works as a nutrition consultant and freelance writer in Austin, Texas, where she specializes in diabetes, weight management, and general and preventive nutrition. If you would like to learn more, please visit Mandy's website at Nutritionistics.com.

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