7 Ways to Maintain Weight Loss

By Mel Thomassian (RD)
sxu: Genkaku

There’s no doubt about it, despite the large amount of books and other resources available these days, the big problem most people seem to have isn’t with losing weight, but maintaining weight loss.

However, it’s also true to say there are plenty out there who have been successful at long-term weight loss.

So, what’s their secret?

I’m sure you can add heaps to this post–please do I’d love to hear your ideas–these are a few of my suggestions…

How to Maintain Weight Loss

1. Start Small
Think about your current lifestyle, then decide on one or two healthier habits you could add into your life. Remember, they ought to be things you can maintain long-term.

Perhaps you could begin by simply having a healthy breakfast every day, or maybe you could determine that you will only eat when you’re hungry and when sitting at the dinner table. Whatever you choose, keep your goals small initially, then add to them as you move forward.

2. Keep a Journal
This tip has probably been repeated so often that it washes straight over your heard, but it’s a really important one. In fact, many people find it to be the single most important thing that helped them gain control of their weight.

If you haven’t tried it, perhaps now would be a good time to give journalling a go. You’ll want to note down everything you eat, including details of the time, place, cooking methods, and portion size, etc. You could also record your weight weekly in there, and perhaps make a note of any emotional eating, if this is a problem for you too.

3. Don’t “Diet”
Don’t you hate the word diet? I know I do! The very term itself has such negative connotations.

A fancy weight loss diet isn’t necessary for weight loss. In fact, you’d probably do a lot better if you just stopped dieting, and instead focused on eating fresh, whole foods most of the time.

The problem with maintaining your weight loss on a “diet,” is that most of them don’t teach you what to do after you’ve lost the weight, they’re all about the short-term weight loss.

Also, be realistic about what you want to achieve. This is something else I’ve noticed again and again in the recent Share posts–people want to lose too much weight too quickly. So, try not to set yourself up for a big fall by saying, “I want to lose 30 pounds in two weeks!” Disappointment will sabotage your weight loss efforts, set realistic goals instead.

4. Try a Portable Motivator
This could be an image of you at your heaviest/lightest/fittest–whatever works best for you.

The idea is that it will motivate you to continue. So, if you begin to notice your resolve slipping a little pull out your portable motivator, and remind yourself of what you’re aiming for.

5. Stick With It
Successful losers will tell you it gets easier with time.

Studies show that people who have successfully maintained their weight loss for 2-5 years have a much better chance of longer-term success. I know 2-5 years seems like a long time, but weight loss is about change for life, so take it in small baby steps, and you’ll get there.

According to the The National Weight Control Registry, successful losers have reported engaging in:

  • High levels of physical activity (approximately 1 hour per day)
  • Eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet
  • Eating breakfast regularly
  • Self-monitoring weight
  • Maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends

6. Address Weight Gain Early
How many times have you started dieting, been doing really well, then all of a sudden–BANG–you’re back to square one. What on earth happened?

Usually, it’s the result of not monitoring how you’re doing consistently, so you don’t notice things going off a little. To avoid this make sure you keep a consistent check on things, and put the brakes on any weight gain before it gets out of hand again.

7. Take Regular Exercise
Despite Time Magazine’s recent bunk article, the fact remains that those who continue with some kind of exercise routine are much more likely to maintain their weight loss.

Check out Mike’s article debunking “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,” and also “How to Make Exercise Work for Your Fat Loss.”

If you’ve successfully lost weight and maintained that loss, what tips would you share with the others who struggle with this issue?


  1. Hassan Huelle

    Aloe vera is a succulent plant species that probably native plant originated in northern Africa. The species does not have any naturally occurring populations, although closely related aloes do occur in northern Africa.

  2. Mark

    Could not agree more with the ‘don’t diet statement above’. Following the advice of Eat Less CRAP, Eat More FOOD will make the biggest difference. The Hungry for Change Documentary really drills this home and it is the most common sense weight loss plan I have ever heard off. Well done for such good advice in this post.

  3. denise

    Watch what you eat and keep track if your progress. From there you will know about the things you need to adjust or maintain. It’s all about changing your entire lifestyle. You have to devote time and discipline in order to maintain losing weight. Analyzing what your body needs is also very important.

  4. drnpriyantha

    You can calculate the amount of calories burnt during your exercise. You need to know your body weight, age, height, Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) value of the physical activity, and duration of the physical activity to calculate the calorie burn. If you burn 7778 calories, you will lose 1kg of body fat.

  5. Alana

    I think a great way to maintain a certain weight is to sign up for a calorie-counting website (Loseit, Sparkpeople, whatever) and to carefully measure and record everything that you eat or drink so that you know exactly what your calorie intake is. The sites that can show you how you’re doing over the span of a week or month are the best because then you can see when you have overeaten and make up for it through more responsible eating and exercise. If you find it difficult to estimate your portion sizes, etc., try investing in a gram scale or make sure that you’re really careful about physically measuring everything you eat! 🙂

  6. skinnymini

    I lost 20 lbs from a surgery, and as soon as I started regaining my appetite I went on a diet plan and started losing more weight. This tells me that eating less is the key, so I downsized my portions considerably without starving at all. Before I was so focused on stuffing my face with the worse crap. I also exercise every single day. I get up early to do it before work, 40 minutes on weekdays an hour on Saturday and yoga or light dancing/aerobics on Sunday with weights three days of the week. It is not rocket science. I eat whatever I want too. I find you can eat whatever you want, but not as much of whatever you want. It helps if what you like is healthy foods. Salads, soups, plenty of fruit and veg and Atkins shakes help me stay on track. I also don’t drink a lot, wine maybe a few times a week.

  7. chuck bass

    Not eating extra fat from unnecessary food, does
    Not equate to high carb, it means trying not to over consume, and I assume trying to keep a balanced diet, which is sustainable and forgiving to small cheats. Low Arb high protein and fat diet may see weight off, this is done by modulating chemicals in the body,but it is not balanced, still has many of the other side effects of high fat and my be depriving you of nutrients. By all means these diets are good for weight loss but should not be a lifestyle. Also the slightest increase in Carbs in a low carb diet can be disasterous to your weight.

  8. Therese

    While low-carb diets can provide immediate health benefits, results are often short-lived. Weight is easily regained. Even more alarming, keeping a low-carb diet puts yourself at danger of depriving the body of foods that provide much-needed nutrients for good health.

  9. body builder


    I’m abit perplexed as to how protein is converted into carbohydrate? Can you show me the process for this, as I never came across it during my degree.

    When digested, protein is broken down into it constituent parts, amino acids, which are then used to build needed proteins.

    i can’t mind who said it but yes CERTAIN proteins can’t be made by our bodies and HAVE to be introduced via our diet, so whoever said that i took that as what you meant, not proteins as a whole as tonyk ranted on about.

    low whatever ‘diets’ do work, depending on what your initial intake of ‘whatever’ is to begin with.

    I think what most people have to keep in mind is what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for you. You need to look at your diet and see where you can improve it and tweak it as needed.

    And remember the best way to ensure that your diet gives you all you need day to day.. all you need to do is eat another human… everything you need in one meal 😉

  10. Patricia Smith

    I tried, Weightwatchers 3 times, I tried Nutrisystem, I tried every known preset way to lose. Know what finally did it. Nutrition awareness. FitDay Free Calorie Counter and Diet Journal. Every day I get up make my honeycut cheerios/1% milk, aloe vera juice/tomato splash, and sit down and decide what I want to make for lunch/dinner. I researched and discovered 20% protein, 30% fat and 50% carbs will allow me to be on a healthy diet for life, and it makes me choose healthier choices than just carbs, or fatty foods. It makes me eat healthy proteins too. No more I can’t eat that, I just look it up and if it is going to put me too far over in carbs…I decide either to not eat it, or take the hit for that day. Since starting this I have gone down from 232lbs 5′ 6″ to 208. Its been 3 weeks. I am not starving, I aim to stay between 1200 and 1500 calories a day…so far my calorie report says I am on target for the percentages above for nutrition and I am averaging 1305 a day. No one day, no one week, no one meal defines my success understand?

  11. Melanie | Dietriffic

    Alex, I report what The National Weight Control Registry say successful losers do to lose weight, I’m not saying EVERYONE should do this to lose weight.

    I agree with you about protein, very important.

    At the end of the day, there’s no one perfect way to lose weight, it’s all about finding out what works best for you.

  12. alex

    I completely disagree with this.
    1. You dont need a “low fat” diet to lose weight, that “fact” should be replaced with low sugar/low carb.
    2. how on earth could you maintain exercising for 1 hour of moderate exercise every single day? your poor body will need a rest. I did that a while back and i kept having muscle spasms (even after i stretch)
    3.you said “dont diet” but then you say have a low fat diet. thats the same thing.
    4. You never mention anything about the importance of protein. Protein is the best tool for weight loss. Research it. Seriously.. are you a proffesional because your methods seem to be way out of date.

    high protein/low carb worked for me, and i found i lost more walking 10 thousands steps than running an hr every single day. Where in the world did you get your information from?

  13. Big J44

    I lost a bunch of weight two years ago on Nutrisystems. Last year I took a new job and it was too stressful for me (to deal with weight issues and do a decent job at work). When I cam home at night there was no place to hide…its like I couldn’t medicate myself with anything but food, alcohol, etc. My job situation changed again and improved some but the damage was done. I lost most of my weight without exercise. If I’d had the exercise regimen when the new job stress hit, I may have had a chance. I gained back 60 pounds of a 80 pound weight loss and am getting emotionally ready to try again…

  14. megagirl

    That’s utter crap. Going back to the whole Mayo thing, your percentage of carbs for the meal may be larger, but in total, it’ll be the same grams. It’s not like you’re slapping another slice of bread on there!
    While the low or no-carb diet works for you long-term, other people may not want the side effects of bad breath, nausea, weakness, dizziness, insomnia, and even kidney failure that’s associated with cutting out your carbs. And as you’ve just proven, people do get a little bit crazy.
    There are also good carbs out there, the ones that come from a nice whole wheat loaf or a handful of granola instead of things like pastries, made from white flour and sugar. So hey, don’t blame us for having moderation instead of going to extremes.

  15. leafiie

    thxs for the good idea ^^ but do anyone knows anything about “10ways to maintain a healthy body weight” ?? if so please tell me

    please and thxs ^^
    from your truly Leafiie

  16. Jennifer


    Not much out there on how to maintain. I have lost 40 pounds over the last 10 months. I want to keep it off and not lose any more weight which would mean I would need to higher my calorie intake or exercise less? I do not want to lose any more weight but unsure how to switch. any help?

  17. Weight-Loss-Motivation-Tips.com

    Nice post. I love the idea of a portable motivator. Never heard that one before.

  18. Lynn - Going FAT2Lean


    Your articles were very interesting.

    I still stand by my belief that you cannot just count calories. You need to take other factors into consideration. Dieting is not just about calories in, calories out. Taking my jelly donut example; someone may think they can eat a jelly donut and then go do an intense exercise session and the calories they took in will get used. That may or may not be the case. Everyone does not metabolize food the same. Besides calories people need to look at healthy proteins, fat, carbs, fiber, etc. It isn’t just about calories.

    People who commented on this article gave some good ideas for helping to maintain weight loss and that is what is important here, not what you and I think about calories. Or who is right and who is wrong about the way people go about losing weight and how right or wrong a way to lose weight and be healthy is. It is truly about making healthy choices.

  19. Kellie Glass RD, LD

    THese are great weight loss tips. I would also add the need to address sleep patterns and stress management. In fact, one study suggests that getting just 1 extra hour of sleep (assuming you don’t already get your 7-8 a night) could help you lose up to 16 lbs in one year! It’s extremely important to make an entire lifestyle change when attempting to keep the weight off.

  20. losebellyfat

    These are some great tips. One thing I did and I started this from the get go of my weight loss journey. I took 15 minutes a day to imagine myself at my goal weight. I took notice of my slim look the clothes I had on the feeling I had of being lighter and the joy I had from reaching my goal. I did this every day to keep my motivation rolling strong. As long as you have a proper weight loss program and the mindset you can do it with flying colors. I also highly suggest having a picture around that you hate to look at, I know sounds odd but this works. I used to hate having my picture taken I mean I hated it big time. So after I would take 15 minutes to view myself at my goal weight I would take that picture out and look at it and remind myself that I will never be that person again. I reached my goal weight over 2 1/2 years ago and I still look at that picture everyday (well I have to it is on my website) but I look at it and I know that is someone else it isn’t me anymore. I reached my goal weight of 118 pounds in Feb 2007 and today I am still 118 pounds.

  21. KKKKK

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that a jelly doughnut is equal nutritiously to whole grains or lean protein.

    Reserve the judgment, people! We should be supporting each other not vilifying each other!

  22. TonyK

    Actually Lynn, I believe YOU need to do some more research on calories. Your post is so ridiculous, I actually debated whether or not to even bother with a response… but what the heck. Anything to quiet down the low carb talibans.

    First of, you say that your body does not make protein. That’s flat out wrong. Excuse me, but if our body can’t make protein, how on earth do we grow? How on earth do we build muscle? How on earth do we recycle our tissue or repair anything if we get hurt? Do you know how absurd your statement is? Do you even know the difference between essential amino acids and regular amino acids? Look it up and get back to me.

    Yes, the body does not store protein in its muscles. So what? That does not mean over-consumption of protein will not lead to fat gain. Your body still converts protein to it’s usable source, which is carbohydrate…or more specifically, glycogen. Granted, this is not as efficient as say, eating a jelly doughnut (good example, BTW…eating a jelly doughnut is a no no? wow, no joke), but the mechanism for fat gain is still there, albeit the thermic effects of protein digestion complicate things a bit in terms of the energy balance equation.

    Now, in my original post above, I specifically stated that given moderate amounts of protein, there is nothing special about cutting carbs that will help you lose weight. The bottom line is total calories. Given identical caloric intake, nothing will happen…this has been studied. Since you say that I need to do more research…why don’t you show me a study that shows that I’m wrong? In the meantime, here are some studies that support my statement. As I said before, trying to manipulate insulin levels simply because it’s the primary regulator of adipose tissue is quickly proving to be nothing more than a fad. It turns out that cutting carbs is just a way to trick oneself into eating less calories…nothing more.

    Google these studies below and tell me with a straight face that you still think it’s all about insulinogenesis:

    Brinkworth GD, et al. Long-term effects of a very-low-carbohydrate weight loss diet compared with an isocaloric low-fat diet after 12 mo. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):23-32.

    Dansiger ML, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2005 Jan 5;293(1):43-53.

    Stern L, et al. The effects of low-carbohydrate versus conventional weight loss diets in severely obese adults: one-year follow-up of a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004 May 18;140(10):778-85.

    Foster GD, et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003 May 22;348(21):2082-90.

    Oh, and BTW, here’s a recent study done on mice which shows that low carb diets cause atherosclerosis. Generally, I tend to discount studies done on mice as I feel their applicability to humans is somewhat limited, but I just thought it was interesting.

    Low-carb diet damages arteries, study shows
    By John von Radowitz, Press Association
    Tuesday, 25 August 2009

    Low-carbohydrate diets may damage arteries and increase the risk of heart attacks, research suggests. Scientists believe cutting carbs on Atkins-style diets impairs the regrowth and repair of blood vessels.

  23. TonyK

    I typed up a response, but it looks like it’s being held in moderation. I’d like to add two more studies to the response I gave above. This time I won’t use links…as I believe that’s what’s holding up my response in moderation. Just look up these two studies and you’ll see what I mean…not that I really need more after the 5 good abstracts you’ll be seeing in my first reply. I’m looking forward to your response.

    Schoeller DA, Buchholz AC. Energetics of obesity and weight control: does diet composition matter? J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 May;105(5 Suppl 1):S24-8.

    Schoeller DA, Buchholz AC. Is a calorie a calorie? Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 May;79(5):899S-906S.

  24. Derek

    You will have to diet to get to your weight loss goal.

    A simple definition of dieting is to reduce calories. In order to get the weight off, you have to burn more calories than you consume, and that will require some sort of healthy eating / exercising strategy. You did the opposite for so long. Now, you have to reverse the process.

    Anyway, I think the most important tip is #6 Address Weight Gain Early. It’s amazing how easily the weight creeps back on. You might dismiss a one-pound, two-pound or five-pound gain, but you cannot! Before you know it, it turns into ten or twenty pounds.

  25. Lynn - Going FAT2Lean

    Tony, I think you need to do some more research on calories. They are not all created equal. If you eat a jelly donut and are active, you’ll burn the calories you ingested as glucose and store what you don’t use of that sugar as fat. On the other hand, your body does not store or make protein so you have to eat it all the time. It too creates energy (calories) and uses all those calories and calls upon the stored fat already in your body to help keep the mitochondria going.

  26. John W. Zimmer

    I’m on the losing trend now (because I stopped doing what was successful for me in the past – life and school changed my priorities) and have lost weight in the past by doing the low-fat and speed walking thing. As in most diet and exercise programs – they work while you keep doing them.

    What I like about this advice is Melanie points out that if you modify what you already do (and can keep doing after you lose your weight), you can more easily maintain for life.

  27. Conan


  28. Marie

    Ugh…I am a terrible maintainer. I know a lot about nutrition and I am an avid runner…and I have NEVER starved myself to lose weight. But… it’s the sugar. Whenever I start eating it, it’s like a flippin drug. Next thing I know, it’s two months later, I’ve gained 14 lbs, and I’m jonesing Good-n-Plenty. (um, like right now.) Basically I’m always up and down the same 20 lbs. I think one of the problems is that a 5’2″, small framed woman requires so few calories. Another problems is economics. At some point I will start baking for my kids, and although I can resist a nasty store-bought choc. chip cookie… I know no moderation when it comes to zucchini bread.
    To address the above argument: calories in/out absolutely matter… but I have a far easier time controlling that sugar urge when I increase my protein (which is very hard for this vegetarian.)

  29. Marie Jensen

    I use sensible eating and focusing on non exercise aktivity – standing not sitting at work, being energetic at home.

  30. TonyK

    Stop buying into the insulin response non-sense promoted by low-carb talibans. If eating a low fat diet helps one with total calorie control, then by all means go ahead. The low GI diet is proving to be nothing more than a fad as recent studies have disproved the absurd stance that low-carb (thus lower insulin) is more important than controlling calories.

    Now, if cutting carbs helps one cut total calories, then by all means go ahead with a low carb diet. But don’t be fooled into thinking there is something special about avoiding carbs that helps one lose weight. It’s the total calories that matter (assuming at least a moderate amount of protein).

  31. J. Weight

    Here is the benefit to the overall process. This continuous habit will cause your metabolism to speed up not only while exercising, but will continue for several hours after you finish. At this point you are probably beginning to enjoy how much better you feel. You are creating the behavior for fast weight loss.

  32. Katie

    How exactly does no mayonnaise and butter translate to no meat? Sounds to me like saying no to something with a hundred calories in a tablespoon. I’d rather have a slice of cheese that is very, very tasty (a nice blue or a very ripe and pungent raw milk cheese) than mayonnaise.

    You’ve evidently learned to like living without carbs, so why does it bother you that someone has learned to live without highly concentrated sources of fat?

  33. ArrowSmith

    You just would rather consume carbs then protein. It’s alot easier of course that way. No need to cook the meat and all.

  34. Katie

    I think her point was that by cutting out mayonnaise, cheese, butter, etc., she controls her calories better. If you can control with all the above, by all means enjoy them, but for some of us, we’d rather keep calories under control without them.

  35. ArrowSmith

    Stop vilifying butter and mayo. I eat a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet and lose weight. I do exercise portion restraint, that goes without saying PLUS high volume of exercise.

  36. ArrowSmith

    I disagree about the “low fat” diet part. If you eat low fat, then by definition you are eating high-carb which can’t be good for fat loss or insulin response. Stop buying into the low-fat nonsense already!

  37. Kellie - My Health Software

    I liked the point about self monitoring weight. I weigh myself regularly so I can see when things start to creep up. Every now and again I start eating chocolate and think I can get away with it. 🙂 By weighing myself often I can soon tell that I am not getting away with it and can get back on track.

  38. Spectra

    I’ve maintained a big weight loss for almost 8 years and I will say that a huge part of it is just a major change in your daily routine. You have to make the choice to eat oatmeal and fruit for breakfast instead of the yummy-looking donuts, you have to make the time for regular exercise, and you basically just have to make yourself aware of what you’re eating. When I was fat, I never gave much thought to the nutritional content of my food. I just cared about how it tasted and if I liked it or not. When I decided to get thinner, I started looking at the nutritional aspects of my food and realized that I could feel full by eating lots of fruits and veggies without getting too many calories. I guess sometimes I wish I could still eat the same junk I used to eat and still be thin, but I know that isn’t the case, so I exercise my self control and stick with what I know works for me.

  39. bijou

    It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Meaning you have to keep it up the rest of your life, or else the weight will come back. The biggest thing I did to lose and keep weight off is to educate myself about the caloric content of foods and swap out high calorie items for low calorie items. A major part of it is going without – going without the mayo, without butter, without that second helping, without dessert. It takes no small amount of self-restraint on a day-to-day basis, and most people don’t want to hear that. But it has to be done. After awhile, it becomes a habit – you learn that a sandwich without mayo and cheese can be just as good However, I would not say it gets any easier with time. I exercise the same amount and probably eat fewer calories than I did when I was 20 lbs heavier, but because I’m smaller now, I’m merely maintaining. I have to be very careful, or else I will start gaining.

    The name of the game is vigilance and perseverance.