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7 habits for effective weight maintenance

Many of us have done it ... lost a significant amount of weight only to regain that weight plus a bonus pound or two. Long-term weight control involves more than temporarily substituting bad habits for good. It necessitates permanently replacing the habits that lead to weight gain with practices that promote weight maintenance.

The National Weight Control Registry is a database that records information from weight control winners. Based on feedback from participants in this registry, there are several common behaviors that help to achieve lasting weight management.

1.Plan ahead and promptly self-correct. Time limits, last-minute schedule changes and snap decisions can be weight management saboteurs. Plan meals and snacks, and schedule time for exercise. When the plan goes awry, resist the temptation to “wait until Monday” to get back in control.

2.Have an accountability system. For most, this involves weighing at least weekly. Easy access to a good scale is beneficial.

3.Focus on controlling calorie intake and tracking food intake. Whether using technology to track intake or keeping a written journal, maintaining an accurate record helps to control caloric intake. Keeping account of portion sizes is a critical piece of this process.

4.Prioritize exercise. Both the physical and mental benefits of exercise are essential to weight control and good health in general. It does not have to be anything extreme or costly. Among registry participants, walking is the most commonly reported exercise, with many reporting they set aside one hour each day for their favorite activity.

5. Eat breakfast. Starting the day with a meal is positively correlated with weight control success. Fitting this habit into a rushed morning routine can be challenging but rewarding.      

6. Be consistent. Avoid splurges. This includes weekends, holidays, vacations and special occasions. Though the foods may be different, aim to keep the calorie intake about the same from day to day. Maintain an exercise routine.

7. Limit screen time. The majority of registry participants watch less than 10 hours of television each week. Less time sitting in front of the television usually results in more time doing some type of calorie-burning activity.