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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Weight Maintenance

3 Strategies to Prevent Relapse After Reaching Your Goal Weight

Winning the Mental Game

-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness & Behavior Expert
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Key Attitude: The key thing here is not what you do—that can be anything from mall or pool walking to training for a competitive triathlon. It’s finding something you like to do, and then trying to get progressively better at it.

Strategy 2: Carry the Message

The Problem: You’re probably not going to want to spend the rest of your life tracking every meal you eat and counting calories—and you shouldn’t need to do that. But one of the things that tracking and recording your food and exercise does is give you a concrete, simple way to hold yourself accountable to your goals. As you make the shift into maintenance mode, it’s important to find other ways to hold yourself accountable to maintaining your weight.

The Solution: One of the very best ways to help yourself keep the weight off is to do what you can to help others who are trying to lose weight and improve their lifestyles. Tell your success story. Share tips on how you dealt with a particular problem. Or simply offer encouragement and support. Every time you do these things, you remind yourself of how things were for you before you reached your goal and how important it is for you to maintain what you’ve accomplished. Every time you preach the value of sticking to it when the going gets tough, you’re giving yourself another reason to practice what you preach when you have hard times yourself.

Key Attitude: Maintaining your weight loss can take just as much support as losing the weight, and the best way to get what you need is to give. Stay active (or get active) on the Message Boards, SparkTeams, and blogs here at SparkPeople.

Strategy 3: Broaden Your Perspective

The Problem: Concern for your own health and appearance is a great motivator for weight loss and healthy eating, especially when being overweight is causing you real emotional or physical problems. But sometimes, taking the weight off can also take the urgency out of this motivation, making it much harder to resist all the daily temptations to go back to old habits.

The Solution: Make your own diet a positive force in the world around you. Get to know where your food comes from, and the social, environmental, and nutritional consequences of how it is produced, marketed, and delivered. Find out, for example, if there's a local farmer's market in your area, and do as much of your shopping there as you can. Most of the products you'll find there will be grown without pesticides and with environmentally-friendly methods. Plus the money you spend will stay in your local community. Another example is to look for pastured (grass fed) and humanely-raised animal products. Why? For one, the amount of grain it takes to produce just one pound of grain-fed beef or chicken would feed a lot more people than a single pound of meat would. Plus pastured animals are often higher in omega 3’s, leaner, and lower in saturated fat (making them better for you too). These are just a couple examples of how you can continue making meaningful choices when you sit down to dinner. For more ideas, check out these websites:
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • JENNAAW
    After decades of gaining everything back and always more, I am so worried now that I have lost big amounts of weight and the goal is getting within sight. I notice that in my countless gain-backs all it has taken was a few days of mindless eating to start the process, which is to me like an addiction. I am trying so hard to develop the strategies that will work for me. - 2/21/2014 6:17:22 AM
  • I like this article overall. However, I'm pretty sure I've read that continuing to track your consumption even after you've reached goal weight is one of the key activities of successful maintainers, and telling people that it's ok to stop tracking goes against current research on the subject. I'd like to see a response from the author on this. - 2/20/2014 4:13:52 PM
  • MANDYCAT3
    I ran across one suggestion that I hope to find very useful. One of the latter chapters of "100 Days of Weight Loss" by Linda Spangle (which is well worth having on hand, by the way) suggested planning for "crisis management." First we identify a red flag, like going over a particular weight on the scale or not fitting into a favorite pair of jeans. Then we come up with an emergency plan.

    I've chosen a scale weight as my red flag. My emergency plan will be nothing but fruits-vegetables
    -whole-grains (with quinoa for protein) until I get back out of the red zone. If I'm vigilant, the "crisis" should be over in two or three days, so I believe a restricted diet will be an acceptable response. - 12/22/2013 4:08:57 PM
  • One thing that's not mentioned in this article (which I really enjoyed reading) was that how you lose your weight can help determine your success in maintenance. I used an extreme dietary change on a couple of occasions, and the weight went almost entirely right back on. Now I am doing something that requires very simple planning with gradual changes from my old way of eating. With this style, my weight gain stopped four months ago. A little bit more in terms of modification, and it should begin to go down. And I am predicting it will be easier to maintain that loss. Glenn. - 11/28/2013 5:12:33 AM
  • I just got to goal and have been thinking about it for a long time...I know that I must be diligent and I have been educating myself and planning it for a while. I have gained and lost too many times to remember - I am not going through this again - this is the last time, so this is important information! - 8/30/2013 1:21:46 PM
  • AGNESLEE1
    Nice post. I believe that substance abuse is a major problem that needs to be addressed not only by the person suffering from addiction but by their loved ones and the community as a whole. Someone with substance abuse problem must find understanding from their significant others. They can also find a supportive community like AA meetings for alcoholics (here’s a comprehensive list of AA meetings in US: http://sober.com/
    aa-alcoholic-
    anonymous-mee
    tings.html or a helpful treatment facility, halfway houses, and sober houses for people with drug addiction(for a complete list of these facilities you can check www.sober.com). - 11/8/2012 10:50:07 PM
  • thank you for this article...every year i meet my goal and some how tinker back up the rest of the year...i will maintain my weight loses and keep it off this year! - 5/31/2012 5:14:36 PM
  • eatwild.com - 4/26/2012 11:48:46 PM
  • I love this article! It has really helped me make the switch from losing weight to maintenance. As indicated in the article, transitioning to maintenance is such a mind boggler. But again, this article is very helpful. I am so dog on thankful for SP. - 12/8/2011 9:24:41 PM
  • Dean, I always get a lot out of your articles. This week I've been anxious as I realize I am going to meet my goal before the year's end, and I want to prepare NOW for maintenance. This article is just what I needed! Thanks for providing some direction for this new path. - 3/24/2011 1:07:55 PM
  • Dean, I always get a lot out of your articles. This week I've been anxious as I realize I am going to meet my goal before the year's end, and I want to prepare NOW for maintenance. This article is just what I needed! Thanks for providing some direction for this new path. - 3/24/2011 1:07:51 PM
  • Dean, I always get a lot out of your articles. This week I've been anxious as I realize I am going to meet my goal before the year's end, and I want to prepare NOW for maintenance. This article is just what I needed! Thanks for providing some direction for this new path. - 3/24/2011 1:07:31 PM
  • MOMM4LIFE
    I am so glad I found this article. I think I am in a form of weight maintenance now. I have lost 20lbs and still losing - I was contemplating how to maintain the weight loss. And now I know! Just keep doing what I did to lose the weight. It's just that simple! - 5/21/2010 10:40:01 AM
  • Thank you Coach Dean. I have been maintaining for over a year now, after 55 lbs, and it doesn't get any easier. I teach/lead a weight loss group on our (AZ) border and ride my bike regularly, still put my food in, and am playing with about 5 lbs. Nice to see you dealing with this. I sometimes feel like there is not enough on SP for those in the maintenance phase. - 9/16/2009 5:27:56 PM
  • Thanks for this article and all your others. I only like 4 pounds til I reach my goal weight and my plans are just what you suggested. Keep tracing my meals, get my exercise, stay on Spark People to help others on thier journey to a healthier lifestyle and meeting their goals. Keep up the good work Coach Dean!!!! - 8/25/2009 11:46:31 AM