7 Healthy Habits of Weight Maintainers

By Jim F

There is a mountain of information available telling you how to lose weight. However there is precious little guidance telling you how to maintain your body weight.

So what are some habits that keep people lean? We all know someone who eats like a horse, but resembles a beanpole – however this is the exception rather than the rule. Most people who maintain their weight do so because they have implemented some positive habits.

  1. They have pre-planned sessions of exercise.
    Incidental exercise is good, but in all honesty – it’s not enough. People who maintain their weight have learned to schedule dedicated times of exercise. Those times are not torture sessions, but times when they look forward to the stress-release and the positive feelings of well-being after the session.
  2. They take an interest in nutrition.
    Most people that look after their bodies know exactly what they are putting into it. They know how to read food labels, and they understand what it means. They know the difference between processed foods and whole foods.
  3. They eat mindfully.
    Eating mindfully means you are fully aware of how much you are eating. Everyone can get distracted, but the maintainer knows which situations make it difficult for them to eat mindfully (buffets, TVs, stress).
  4. They go easy on fast food.
    I’ve seen people who scarf down cheeseburger after cheeseburger and yet maintain their weight… and then they grow out of their teens and into their late twenties and thirties and discover a bulging waistline.
  5. The maintainer knows that fast food consumption has to be carefully managed, and good choices must be made. They know the good choices because of #2.

  6. They know how to vary their food intake.
    Some days you eat more, some less. Sometimes you have big meals, sometimes small. The maintainer knows that if you overeat, then you must balance that out – and that overindulgence is an occasional thing – not a daily habit.
  7. They know when they’ve had enough.
    A common issue today is that people have lost track of when enough is enough. Whether due to hormonal imbalances (such as leptin/ghrelin), poor food choices, or behavioral issues – we don’t seem to know when to stop eating. The weight maintainer has learned to follow cues from their stomach, and to stop eating before they are uncomfortably full. And even when they can’t trust their belly – the maintainer knows what an appropriate portion size is.
  8. They’ve learned that good things take time.
    Someone who maintains their weight knows that a crash diet will never have the long-term affects that they desire. They know that quick-fixes are not the answer, and that many things – including building fitness, losing fat, building muscle, take many months or even years of dedication.
  9. BONUS: #8 + more

  10. They have learned new coping strategies that don’t involve food or alcohol.
  11. They have learned how to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet as part of a new lifestyle.


  1. avanthi


    Thanks for the dieting tips they are very useful to maintain a balanced diet and be healthy.

  2. Talia Mana, Centre for Emotional Well-Being

    Great list. Thanks for reminding us about it, and thanks for adding my contribution at #8.

    Have a great New Year everyone, and let’s make 2007 a fantastic year!

  3. rav

    Pills and weight-loss forumalas are just totally the wrong thing to do in my opinion. This post has some great advice although sometimes in our lives people feel there isn’t ‘enough time’ to exercise or cook. I think that’s a shame and it’s something society could do well to look at!

  4. jj

    #9 is the most important part! If you’re doing all these things out of a feeling of obligation and pressure, you’re not ultimately going to maintain in the long term. If you find exercise invigorating and fun, find nutrition to be an interesting topic and enjoy cooking healthy gourmet meals, it becomes a solid lifestyle.

  5. Heather

    Tip number one is the one I’d most have everyone in the world (regardless of body size) implement.

    Regardless of weight, it just makes your life *better*

  6. Sky

    Talia Malia hit the nail on the head.

    No matter how committed one has been to their diet and exercise program. Life has a way of taking turns that often stop a person from being able to take the time to take care of themselves. Stress and anxiety often lead to eating comfort foods on top of that.

    Sometimes there is more to life than being a perfect dieter and the kinder we our to ourselves, perhaps the sooner we can get back on track when the burdens of life are lifted and we are able.

  7. Jack

    I’ve seen some friends constantly looking for the next pill or fad thinking this will change the way they look. And sometimes it does, for a month or so.

    Without changing their lifestyle they wont be healthy and if you pay attention you can see weight changes with emotional changes.

    For me; I’m working on 3 & 6. being mindful and knowing I had enough go hand in hand.

    And RedPanda I think your’s should be #1. Enjoying the changes and the new lifestyle makes it easier to apply it again.

  8. Jan

    “Try to eat mindfully” vs. “Do some calorie dance every other day that is also related to whether you exercise that day or not”. Sorry, it is clear which of the 2 there is the complicated one.

    Also, I like to exercise everyday. If your whole plan, Mary, is based on exercising every other day, I wouldn’t do it just because of that.

  9. Mel

    nice…will be posting a link on my blog…all stuff that is common sense but needs to be put in our face! 😀

  10. Caramelle-oh

    “It’s too bad “common sense” isn’t so common.”

    AMEN to that! As John Lennon would say “Imagine”.

  11. Jen

    “Great list, and it really is that simple. None of the 7 habits seem intimidating to me, as can be the case with a lot of “diet” info, they just seem to be common sense”.
    I am in complete agreement, Carmelle-oh. It’s too bad “common sense” isn’t so common.

  12. Diet-Blog

    Talia – you are dead right there. That’s so right I’m adding it to the post.

  13. Caramelle-oh

    “Caramelle-oh, I’ve had some pretty busy clients who’ve not found my suggestions complicated. They’re no more complicated than any of Jim’s suggestions.”

    Well, that’s a matter of opinion, if it works for some of your clients, great. It just wouldn’t work for me, I have my own, even more simple, plan that works just as well, if not better.

  14. Mary

    Caramelle-oh, I’ve had some pretty busy clients who’ve not found my suggestions complicated. They’re no more complicated than any of Jim’s suggestions.

  15. Leo

    What you eat is what you are. Exercise and food suppliment and some meal replacement is good.

  16. Sherri

    This tips are great. Most are things we all know when we think with common sense but we all need the reminders.

  17. jj

    Talia Mana, I am totally with you on that point, wow! you said it all. If you are not there mentally, due to stress, depression, and lack of self esteem etc. You first need to fix your head and the learn how to eat.

  18. Talia Mana

    I think the biggest obstacle to weight maintenance is emotional stability. Those points are all correct, but most people fall off their diets in times of extreme stress. I would add:

    #8 Learning new coping strategies that don’t involve food or alcohol.

  19. Caramelle-oh

    Great list, and it really is that simple. None of the 7 habits seem intimidating to me, as can be the case with a lot of “diet” info, they just seem to be common sense.

    My husband is a farmer, so he gets the best possible workout every day through incidental exercise, out in the fresh air doing manual labour, plus he eats like a horse. But, when we are on holiday, he adjusts his eating, it’s like his body instinctively knows it doesn’t need so much.

    “Yes, I’ve heard. This can’t work; it’s too simple.”

    It actually sounds a bit complicated to me, keeping to a strict eating time, planning your meals for the entire day, that wouldn’t work for me or anyone I know who has a busy life. I did the No S diet for 3 weeks to form the habit, and now it’s just second nature. Now that’s what I call simple!

  20. Sherrie

    I find weighing daily helps me to. I can see what days bloat me, be it hormonal or food related and if the weight starts to creep up I notice it straight away and do damage control for a day or two.

  21. Nice Girl

    Great tips. It really isn’t rocket science, but it does take effort and work to be healthy and look good. The sad fact is that many people are unwilling to put forth the effort.

  22. mike - natural diet nut

    Okinawa has more folks over 100 than anywhere in the world. They are thought to be the healthiest people on earth. Point here is that have a cultural habit known as hara hachi bu – eating til only 80% full. Like you said Jim, being aware of and heeding the bodies signals.

    Having said that, having done a couple of ‘bulking sessions’ myself, I know how easily the body accepts and then requires higher calorie regimes. Re-training is required to bring calorie levels down.

  23. RedPanda

    I’d add a tip No. 8 – “They’ve learnt how to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet as part of a new lifestyle.”

    That’s probably the stumbling block for most people; they often have the “going on a diet/going off a diet” mindset. The tricky part is changing the “diet” into a lifestyle. I have maintained a 90 pound loss for nearly three years (while gaining muscle and lowering my bodyfat) and I can honestly say that I enjoy my food, and never miss the kinds of food that made me gain weight in the first place.

  24. Mary

    How to Maintain Your Weight

    This will stabilize your weight before start dieting or keep you from regaining after you’ve finished. With your physician’s approval, you can safely use this system indefinitely. But you’ll only need it for 21 days.

    There are 5 steps:

    1. Plan how many meals and snacks you’ll have daily. Never deliberately skip a planned meal or snack. And don’t stockpile food for a massive munch-in at the end of the day or week.

    2. Always eat at the same times every day, with no more than an hour’s leeway. And never allow more than 6 waking hours to pass without eating or drinking something. At the end of Day 4, your meal and snack times should be carved in stone.

    Every time you eat, you teach your body when to be hungry, so decide when you want to be hungry. If you always lunch at noon—even if you don’t always feel hungry just then—by Day 22, you will always be hungry for lunch at noon.

    3. Don’t change what you eat, unless you truly want to eliminate a particular type of food from your life forever. This isn’t meant to wipe out your food preferences; it just stops the cravings. There’s a difference.

    4. Every other day, eat exactly half of what you normally eat. If you usually have a sandwich and a bowl of soup for lunch, eat half a sandwich and half a bowl of soup. At snack time, eat half of what you usually have. It’s like jogging: half calories = workout day, full calories = resting day.

    Do this for 21 consecutive days. Not 19 days, not 20—21. If you drop the ball at any time, you must start counting all over again.

    No one even has to know you’re doing this. If someone says “Let’s lunch” on a half-calories day, ask for a rain-check for “Tomorrow, or 3 days or a week from today”. Arrange your start so that a major special occasion will fall on a full-calories day. If a minor occasion will fall on a half-calories day, honour it the day before.

    5. From Day 22 onwards, drop the half-calories day. (You probably won’t want to but do it anyway.) You will notice many positive changes in your hunger habits, in how you feel about food, and—best of all—in how you feel about yourself.

    You will find a list of these changes on my site.

    Yes, I’ve heard. This can’t work; it’s too simple.

  25. lowcarb_dave

    I like these tips!

    “They eat mindfully.”

    That is a big challenge for me.