Health & Wellness Articles

3 Strategies to Prevent Relapse After Reaching Your Goal Weight

Winning the Mental Game


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

  • "Transitioning to maintenance" is a fallacy in and of itself. One must make the changes that lead to a healthful lifestyle and then the weight comes off on its own. When you're eating the right nutrition for your "correct" size, the excess pounds will slowly melt away and you'll be left with a healthy body. It DOES happen! - 9/10/2015 10:11:36 PM
  • This article leaves out an important thing - connect with other maintainers - and we have resources on SparkPeople for that. I wish the article had links at the end to the maintenance teams here on Sparky - two are "At Goal and Maintaining - and Transition to Maintenance" and "Losers Keepers." There may be more as well. - 9/10/2015 8:16:18 AM
  • Find something that satisfies you other than eating. Find out why over eating fills that hole inside - 9/10/2015 7:16:53 AM
    I've lost loads of weight, 7 times, and all of the advice in the article sounds nice and is common sense, BUT, going back to over eating was always the only thing that really SATISFIED me, and kept me comfortable and just live life. Being slimmer did not make me feel so terrific and great, and the constant stress of paying so much attention to food and exercise really wears a person out. I was not satisfied, that fact is what makes people regain weight, no matter the reams of information out there, for decades, no expert or researcher wants to believe it, they would have no job. We average people can try to eat as healthy as possible, but the less amount of food feels like deprivation to us, the addiction issue is the real key. And words will not solve that. That is just the way it is. - 9/10/2015 5:23:32 AM
  • I wholeheartedly agree, "Donít stop doing the things that helped you take weight off in the first place" (by now that should be your new lifestyle), and realize that "reaching your goal weight is not the end" - it's simply the continuation of the lifestyle that helped you achieve it. If new habits do not replace the old, there's no way to maintain weight loss and fitness. - 7/6/2015 3:59:55 PM
    New habits don't replace the old ones, they're added to them. That's why nearly everyone falls back on old habits when the new ones don't seem necessary anymore. I'm one of the 95% that lost weight and gained it again, and there's no diet or lifestyle change that works in this respect. Getting the weight off asks for so much discipline, willpower and energy that after the effort, these are simply drained. Since I don't belong to the lucky 5%, and believe it's an illusion to ever enter that group, I decided to be healthy at any size I might have. I don't weigh anymore, try to stick to healthy eating and exercising and try to be not angry with myself when I fail now and then. Eversince, my weight has become stable. Above 'ideal', granted, but learning to accept what my body wants to look like. - 7/6/2015 1:34:35 AM
  • Great article! That's exactly what happened when I reached my goal weight. I lost track/steam since I lost the weight. Then, I applied a lot of these principles to my life without knowing it. I still stay active on the RNY groups on facebook and I never grow tired of hearing success stories or helping those who are just starting their journey. Thanks you and RNY saved my life! - 5/12/2015 9:52:35 AM
  • Just what I needed to read. I am not going to gain any more of the weight I lost back! Also, FYI the third link in the list gives an error and cannot be found. Thank you for the well written blog. - 1/12/2015 11:42:34 AM
  • I agree with and practice all 3, but I've added a 4th. It may not be popular, but if I start to regain, I want to know about it quickly, not when my clothes start to get tight, That could be 10 pounds. So I weigh myself every morning. Daily fluctuations are OK. Fluctuation means a bit up and a bit down. If the trend is up, up, up, it's time to reevaluate before things get out of hand. So far so good - nearly 5 years of maintenance. - 7/14/2014 7:03:20 AM
  • I appreciate the first two suggestions the author has, but find the third to be completely unrelated to the topic. Knowing where my food comes from does not increase my chances of maintaining. In fact, I have no problem with buying off season produce from the southern hemisphere. I appreciate being able to eat asparagus in the fall and fresh apples in the spring. Furthermore, the author makes the assumption that his opinion about food industry practices is "good" and that other ways to think about it are "bad." Personally, I agree with most of what he said about the food industry, but I found it a bit "preachy" and really off topic. - 7/13/2014 5:17:26 PM
  • 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
    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

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