Weight Maintenance: The True Story

09/10/2013 12:35 pm ET | Updated Nov 10, 2013

Have you ever gone on a diet? Lost weight on it? Gained it back? Tried yet another diet? Lost weight? Gained it back? Most people who eventually lose weight and do keep it off have done just that. They have tried various diets and found that they do actually work. However, any diet you "go on" you eventually "go off." And when you go off that diet, then what?

This is where the real weight loss work comes in. It's not so much losing the weight, although that can be challenging for sure, but what follows that determines one's success, or lack of it, at keeping the weight off.

For my book, I did a lot of research and also relied on the best study to date of weight loss masters. They are people who have lost at least 30 pounds and maintained that loss for at least a year. I am proud to say that I am in the weight loss master category, having lost 50 pounds and maintained that for 23 years.

So what sets the masters apart from the others? That is a really good question and can actually be answered with data.

Weight loss masters understand that to maintain a weight loss takes work. They continue to monitor themselves and stay awake to the food and exercise choices they make so they can maintain their weight. They weigh themselves on a regular basis. They exercise, and many of them keep food records. They also understand that weight maintenance is actually the state of gaining and losing small amounts of weight over and over again.

In my book I talk about "gaining weight successfully." What that means is that we begin to understand that it is normal to gain a pound, or two, or three and then to work it back down. It's only when a two-pound weight gain turns into a 25-pound weight gain that it really becomes a problem. We learn that we cannot expect to lose weight, get to goal, and stay at exactly that number for life. We live in a range of weight that feels comfortable. When we get to the high end of that range, we do what we know we need to do to bring it back down. That is, keep food records, eat a lot of low-calorie foods, exercise and keep track of our weight carefully until we get back to a comfortable place. Weight maintenance is not staying at exactly the same number, everyday, for life.

The other aspect to keep in mind with maintenance is that it is kind of dull. Losing weight can be exciting. You see changes, you look better, feel better and people are noticing. I lost weight quickly and the compliments were constant. Even the guy at Starbucks would comment. "Wow, you look great. Have you lost weight?" Those compliments were very motivating.

Once you get stable at a weight, the compliments either slow down, or stop. Instead of, "Hi Irene. OMG, you look fantastic. Have you lost weight?" It would just be, "Hi Irene." I'd be waiting for the OMG part and it wouldn't come. People will get used to the new you. It then becomes harder to keep up the work because you don't have that steady outside stream of motivation reminding you just how worth it the work is.

So, my goal is to help you know and accept these things upfront so you can be successful long-term and be prepared ahead of time for the work that weight maintenance requires. It's worth it!

That's it for now. Good luck and let me know how you're doing.

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