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Keeping the weight off

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

10 secrets of successful weight maintenance

It's a fantastic achievement losing the weight you wanted to. Well done! The hard work and will power paid dividends. Now it's all about keeping it off.

Weight maintenance is a different strategy from weight loss. It's in some ways just as tough. You only have to look at the yo-yoing weight loss and gain of celebrities to see how easy it is to put it back on again. But that's not inevitable, you CAN keep the pounds at bay and here's how:

1. The hard work's not over

If you take your foot off the gas at this stage the weight will creep back on.

"Don't relax," says Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum. "The real problem is the psychological thrill of losing the weight is gone."

He adds: "In the overwhelming majority of cases people who lose weight take their eye off the ball but you can't do that as the weight will come back on again."

2. You need to move it

You could lose weight based on your diet alone, but to maintain weight loss physical activity is a must.

Data from the National Weight Control Registry in the US provides information on 3,000 people who have lost weight successfully and kept it off for a year or more. A whopping 90% of them say they take part in regular exercise.

"Regular physical activity has been shown to be key in weight loss maintenance," says British Dietetic Association spokesperson Lucy Turnbull.

She says guidelines recommend a minimum of 30 minutes at least 5 days per week of moderate intensity physical activity.

3. Keep it low

Once you're off the leash of a perhaps restrictive diet regime, high calorie treats are tempting and hard to resist.

Alternatively you may not be totally sure of what you can eat to maintain weight loss.

"When you are on a diet it may have been concentrated on a single food group so when you come off that and start eating all food groups it's confusing," says Tam. "You don't always know what's the right and wrong thing to eat."

"Successful weight loss maintainers continue to follow a low calorie intake," says Lucy. "National guidelines say women should eat 2,000 cals and men 2,500 calories, this is very broad and varies from person to person depending on your weight, height, activity levels, metabolism."

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