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Weight Maintenance
10 More Tips to Keep the Pounds Off

Eat lower calorie, higher volume foods.
Eat lower calorie, higher volume foods.

Losing weight is difficult, but millions of people do it every year. The part that trips most people up, is keeping the weight off. Estimates vary, but studies show between 5 and 20 percent of dieters keep the pounds off for 2 years or more. That means between 80 and 95 percent put the weight back on. Many end up heavier than when they started. That's a staggeringly high failure rate.

The biggest problem is thinking of weight loss as a temporary sacrifice. It's not. It's a lifelong commitment. You have to deal with it as a fundamental change in the way you handle food.

Make yourself aware of how dieting makes you feel. Researchers found that people's feelings of “hunger and desire” kept increasing as they lost weight, but their feelings of fullness did not. As the pounds come off, our bodies react to the weight loss as if we are starving. So we produce more of the hormone associated with hunger, ghrelin. The more weight we lose, the more hunger levels increase.

Only by taking control of those feelings of hunger, can we hope to be successful. Ask yourself before you eat something, are you really hungry? Or are you just bored, tired, anxious or eating out of habit? Just because you're at a movie, doesn't mean you have to eat popcorn. Separate the action of eating from the situation you're in.

Drink water when you think you're hungry. Then wait for 60 seconds and reevaluate how you feel. You may not have been hungry at all, just thirsty.

Quit thinking of a diet as punishment. Explore new recipes and ways to eat more vegetables and fruit. Look at it as an adventure. Discover foods you can enjoy, that just happen to be healthy. We have hundreds of ideas in the WeEatFit recipe section of our website.

Limit access to unhealthy foods. Don't store cookies, candies, fatty convenience foods or sugar-filled drinks in your home. It's hard to binge if you have to leave the house every time you want to eat junk. Then do the same thing at work. Ditch the unhealthy food delivery menus and pack your lunch. Banish the candy bowl and stop going into break rooms that have donuts or cookies in them.

Practice plate control. Start with smaller dinner plates; so when you put the food on, it looks like you're eating more. Then cover those plates three-quarters full of vegetables. If you're going to eat meat, don't let it take up more than one-quarter of the plate.

Replace high calorie, low volume foods with lower-calorie, higher volume alternatives. For example, 16 little M&M candies have 82 calories. A medium-sized grapefruit also has 82 calories. If you eat the M&M's, they can be downed in a minute, do little to quench hunger, and they give your body a rush of sugar and fat. Meanwhile eating the grapefruit takes several minutes to enjoy and it provides beneficial vitamins. As a bonus, the greater volume of the grapefruit helps people feel more full.

When you get hungry, grab a piece of fruit to tide you over. Try something new like a kiwi fruit, blood orange, cloudberry or kumquat. You can also get a couple different varieties of apple or other fruits and compare one against the other. Taste the differences for yourself until you find something you truly enjoy.

Don't skip essential nutrients. Fat, carbs and protein are all part of a healthy diet and should be included in your meal plans. Diets that restrict entire food groups don't fill you up as quickly.

Turn off outside distractions and focus on your meal. It's a lot easier to munch mindlessly with the TV on. Set a place for yourself at a table. Then put a timer in front of you. When you eat, pick up the fork or spoon, take a bite and then set the utensil back down. Let the timer countdown 20 seconds before you pick the silverware up and take another bite.

Keep eating until your 80% full. You should push away from the table, still a little bit hungry. It can take 15 to 20 minutes after you eat something before your body registers as “full.” So stop early and give your body time to catch up. If you keep eating until that feeling of fullness kicks in, you've already overeaten.

Make sure you're exercising a minimum of three hours a week. As your weight drops, your metabolism slows down. The only way to combat that drop is by increasing muscle mass through exercise.

Practice these steps the moment you change your diet, so they're established habits once you've lost the weight. If you find yourself slipping, come back and re-read this article again to remind yourself of what to do.

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beginning any diet or exercise program.