Having lost 50 pounds and kept the weight off for four years, VirginiaLynne seeks to help others reach and maintain a healthy weight.
How to Keep Weight Off Easily
I lost 50 pounds using My Fitness Pal and Naturally Slim weight loss programs. Now, the challenge is to keep those pounds off. Sound familiar? As a 55-year-old woman, I know that time and statistics are stacked up against me. Therefore, I've been researching and asking a lot of questions about how to maintain the right weight. Here are the top 10 Tips for Keeping Weight Off:
# 1 Use a Fitness Tracker
My Best Tip? Keep track of your activity every day using a Fitbit, Jawbone, or pedometer watch. A fitness tracker not only helps you figure out how much activity you've done every day, it also motivates you to do more walking.
I know that I need to walk 10,000 steps every day to stay healthy, but how can I keep track? Even though I know the approximate distances that I walk in my neighborhood and the Elliptical machine tells me how many miles I've walked, but what about my trip to the grocery store? If I park out farther away from my office does it really make a difference?
When my husband got me a watch pedometer for Mother's Day, I started being able to track the activity I did every day. I set a goal of reaching at least 10,000 steps. If I'm not there in the evening, I take the dog out for a walk.
There are many different good fitness trackers on the market. One of the cheapest and easiest to use is the one I got, The Smart Health Pedometer Watch which keeps track of:
- Calories Used During the Day
- Heart rate (to see if I'm reaching my target during exercise)
- Distance walked
- Steps taken
- Previous Day's records (in case I forget and want to write them down)
You can use fitness trackers that go in your pocket or attach to your clothes, but I like my watch. The style may seem a little too 80s digital, but my 18-year-old tells me that "Sports Watches are in." Whether they are in or not, I'm addicted to my Watch Pedometer because it is keeping me on track for being fit. And if I don't really want to show that style? I just stick it in my pocket where it still keeps track of my steps.
Weight Loss Poll
#2 Fill Yourself Up with Liquids
My second tip comes from the Naturally Slim program: keep hydrated all day long. What does that mean? Drink at least 8 ten ounce glasses of water (or 10 ounces water with about 2 ounces of orange juice to help you keep your blood sugar levels up in between eating). I actually like to use a 24 ounce Tervis Cup. I fill it with about 1/4 cup of orange juice and the rest water and leave it in the refrigerator so it is cold. When do you drink? All day long, but especially:
- Drink 1-2 glasses (I drink 24 oz.) when you get up in the morning to rehydrate after sleeping.
- Drink whenever you feel hungry. Often when I feel hungry, I am actually thirsty. I've found that I can eat and not get satisfied no matter what I have. Then when I drink a 24-ounce glass of water, I feel so much better and realize I wasn't hungry at all, I was just dehydrated.
- Drink when exercising. I try to remember to drink before and after, especially if I don't remember to bring water with me.
Body Mass Index Chart
#3 Aim for Healthy Weight Goal
Years of struggling to lose weight can sometimes make you lose perspective. Since so many Americans are obese, you can't always look around to see whether you are really at a healthy weight. My first weight loss goal was just to lose 20 pounds and keep it off. I did that for one year. However, I knew I really needed to lose more. Yet, it was really hard to figure out what was the right weight for me.
I've found several weight calculators to use, such as the Ideal Weight Calculator, which shows you your ideal weight according to several of the most popular calculations. There is also a Body Fat Calculator which uses body measurements to estimate your fat percentage.
The best weight goal is one you can achieve and maintain. Even so, most of us need to keep in mind the ranges that are considered healthy for people of our height and weight. See the BMI chart for the range which works for you. Keep that goal in mind, and even if it takes you a couple of different weight loss programs and a couple of years like it did me, you can make it if you don't give up!
Healthy Low Calorie Food
#3 Weigh Yourself Daily
As a person who has been overweight for many years, I still have a dread of stepping on the scales. However, I know that it is a lot easier to lose 3 pounds than 30. So I make sure that I weigh myself every day.
Keep Track of Weight Changes: I think we need to be realistic about the fact that a person's weight may go up or down 2-4 pounds during the week, so I don't panic every time the scale goes up a pound or two. However, when I do see that scale go up, I make it a plan to make sure I make good eating choices for the next few days and skip any extras (like cookies, which are my weakness) that might keep me from going back down.
Get an Accurate Scale: One of the best things I've bought for myself was a really good scale. I've learned to love it because it is very accurate. It doesn't let me cheat it by stepping on a different part of the scale. It always weighs the same, and moreover, it tends to weigh the same or more than my doctor's scale. I love going to the doctor and finding out that I weigh less than I thought! That is a new concept for me.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
#5 Eat Foods Close to Nature
When I polled other people online about their healthy eating tips for keeping weight under control, eating food that was as close as possible to nature was one that came up over and over. What does that mean? Most obviously it means:
- Eat fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Eat whole grains.
- Eat nuts and beans for protein along with lean meat.
- Eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables (Eat a Rainbow idea)
- Avoid or limit eating processed foods.
- Limit eating added sugars (check the back of the food label, every 4 grams of sugar is one teaspoon).
You don't have to eat organic food or expensive gourmet food, you just need to choose food that is close to how it came out of the ground, or off a tree.
Make Low Calorie, No Sugar Desserts
#6 Make a Strategy for Dealing with Cravings
If we eat what we did before losing weight, we are going to be right back where we started, right? Too many times, that's exactly what happens. In fact, many people gain more weight than they had before dieting. Often that is caused by not being able to resist cravings for favorite sugary, salty or fatty foods. We can resist these when on a strict diet plan but then the cravings come back when we think it is "safe" to eat them. So, it is important to make a strategy for how you are going to deal with your food cravings. Here are some ideas:
- Eat just one spoonful: Often, what we really crave is the taste of a certain food. When we tell ourselves it is off limits, it tempts us more. So sometimes, when a food is calling to me, I find it helps to take a very nice plate, serve myself a very small portion, like a 1" by 1" piece, or a spoonful. Then I sit down and eat it very slowly, often with a cup of coffee. By taking tiny bites and letting that taste fill your mouth you can satisfy that craving for the food without hurting your good eating habits.
- Once a Week: One of my friends deals with sugar cravings by telling her family that they can have a special dessert once a week. I sometimes use this strategy for myself. If I know that I'm going to go out and will be offered a dessert I will have a hard time passing up, I will plan my meals for that day to let me have a few extra calories for that dessert. Moreover, when I plan for a special dessert, I can allow myself to thoroughly enjoy it and not feel guilty.
- Substitute Low Sugar and Low Fat Desserts: My favorite strategy is to actually come up with low fat, low sugar and low-calorie substitutes for the tastes I crave. Then I make these desserts in small muffin tins or cut small pieces so that I get the tastes I crave but still keep the idea of portion control.
#7 Look at Food Labels
It can pay to give yourself a little extra time at the grocery store every now and then so that you can look carefully at labels and new foods. Grocery stores are always stocking new products, and you might find some that I call "food bargains" meaning that you get a lot of good taste for very few calories. Here are some of my favorites:
- Fat-Free Peanut Butter: My current favorite new grocery product is PB2, a powdered peanut butter which is 45 calories a TB serving (instead of the regular 200 calories for regular peanut butter. How did they do it? They took all the fat from peanut butter and made a powdered mix that comes in a container that looks like a peanut butter jar. You mix together 2 Tablespoons of the powder with 1 Tablespoon (or a bit more) of water. I love this stuff! It has a very deep peanut flavor. I love to eat it with apple slices, pretzels, as a topping on Bagels or in peanut butter and banana sandwiches. My daughter uses it for banana and yogurt protein shakes. Sometimes, I just eat it all by itself for a small snack.
- New Sugar-Free Products: Some sugar-free products are really excellent, like the Pillsbury sugar-free brownie and cake mixes. Another favorite of mine is Mrs. Butterworth's Sugar-Free Maple Syrup. Unlike some of the other brands, this syrup is thick and tastes much more like the real thing. It can be used instead of Honey or to sweeten things. I pour it on my oatmeal.
- Fruit: Fruit is a great dessert and studies show that women who eat more fruit tend to be thinner. I think that is probably because women who eat more fruit probably don't need as many other desserts. Berries are sometimes more expensive, but they always seem like a special treat and you don't have to use too many of them. I like to put a few sliced strawberries with bananas, or on a salad. Blueberries are great antioxidant foods. Where I live they aren't often available fresh, but I can buy them frozen. These are great in oatmeal.
- Lower Calorie Substitutes: Look at labels of the foods you buy. I often find that there is a wide difference in the calories of foods which seem identical. Slices of bread that look exactly the same may have 50 calories or 100. I've also found fat free half and half for coffee and egg substitute which has half the calories of eggs (along with no cholesterol). Butter non-fat spray works great to give a buttery taste to foods too.
Choose Restaurant Food Carefully
#8 Plan Healthy Eating Out
Even though many restaurants are making better choices available on the menu, and some states are requiring that menus have calories, you still need to make sure that eating at a restaurant doesn't trap you into eating too much. It helps to plan ahead. Here are some of my strategies:
- Plan to share a meal, or take half home to eat later. Most restaurant meals are double or triple the portion a person needs to eat. When the meal arrives, I just eat half of it. You might even want to ask for a take-home container when you get the meal and put half in the container before you start eating. Out of sight, out of mind!
- Choose sides rather than a full meal. Another strategy I sometimes use is to order a la carte instead of an entrée. A salad and soup are often plenty to eat, or choose an appetizer and salad. Just be sure not to choose high-calorie sides.
- Check out the nutritional menu online. Often, I will look up a menu of a place I'm going to eat online before we go. Most online menus offer calorie and nutrition information which can be harder to get sometimes at the restaurant.
- Plan What You Will Eat. Statistics indicate we tend to eat more when we go out. By thinking about what you plan to order before you get to the restaurant, you can control the way the smells, pictures of food and socialization can get in the way of your choices. When I look up a menu, I often make my choice then about what I will eat. Then I can enjoy my time with friends and family without letting their food choices influence me.
- Pre-eat. Sometimes, my husband will eat a small meal before going out, especially if the event means eating later than normal. That way, he is not so hungry that he overeats, or over orders.
- Eat Just Dessert. Sometimes, if I'm really just craving some particular dish from a restaurant, then I let myself order that but make that my full meal.
Use Small Plates to Control Portion Size
#9 Control Your Portions
Keeping control of your portion size is key to keeping your weight off. Use tricks to help you eat the right amount.
- Use small plates and bowls. Salad plates are great. Look at sales or the Goodwill for pretty plates that you like. Having your plate look full makes you feel you are eating more.
- Measure correct portions and then use the same plates and bowls to help you "eyeball" the amount afterwards.
- Use a portion control plate. This can also help you to eat the right balance of foods. Some of them work in the microwave too.
Keep Weight Control by Hiking
#10 Find Things to Do rather than Eating
Finally, I think that one of the key ways to keep weight under control is to spend less time worrying about food. Trying out a new hobby or getting together with friends often is really a better way of handling our emotion than grabbing another cookie.
Personally, I have found that when I'm feeling stressed or out of control, the best cure is spending some time outside. So, when I'm feeling like eating but realize I'm not really hungry, I grab the dog or one of my kids and go for a hike near our lake, or even just a walk around the block. Or maybe we take a bike ride. I come back refreshed and ready to face the next challenge rather than feeling guilty and bloated.
Maybe you have a hobby you've neglected? Or maybe you need to take some classes to learn something new. Keeping control of your weight means that we need to break bad lifestyle habits and form better ones. It might be time to try a class at the YMCA, or to challenge yourself to a 5K.
Do you have any ideas for keeping your weight loss? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 27, 2013:
10 Ways for Keeping Weight Off After Losing, awesome suggestions on maintaining ones weight. I love the idea of wearing a pedometer.
deergha from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!! on October 24, 2013:
Very informative ..Thank you for sharing. Votes up and away.
Asif from Lahore on October 22, 2013:
Very informative hub close to reality .... thanks for sharing the useful info.
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 22, 2013:
I was not expecting such a comprehensive article! You've done a great job outlining detailed, realistic tips that virtually anyone can follow. Great resource!
Jim Laughlin from Connecticut on October 22, 2013:
Great Hub! Very informative and well needed, thank you. I will be using some of these ideas.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 21, 2013:
Excellent article! Keeping it off takes as much effort as taking it off. Voted Up
Brittany Brown from Sydney, Australia on October 21, 2013:
Great hub! Lots of informative tips. I often forget to drink enough water throughout the day-gotta get better at that. Thank you for sharing!
Majidsiko from Kenya on October 21, 2013:
Great hub thanks for the information. The most important part is starting to eat healthy. The harder part is maintaining the healthy way of living and eating.
ExpectGreatThings from Illinois on October 20, 2013:
This is the first weight loss article I have ever read that mentions food I would actually really like to eat! That peanut butter sounds interesting. And your breakfast and brownies look delicious! Congrats on losing and keeping the weight off! You are inspiring :) - Ginger
Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 20, 2013:
Excellent tips for keeping that weight off! Yes, it seems it takes a good while to get if off, but not long at all to put it back on, the yo yo effect. My husband lost a ton of weigh simply by eating a low carb diet. It just fell off!
Up and more and sharing
Blessings to you and yours, Faith Reaper
Lohrainne Janell from Fairfield, IA on October 20, 2013:
These are great tips. However, I took a course on brain health to avoid Dementia later on in life. What I learned was that the brain cells are made of 90% fat. If you go on a fat free diet, you are starving your brain cells and they start to die off causing dementia and Alzheimers later on. If you want to lose weight, eat olive oil and low carbs.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 20, 2013:
These are great tips for weight loss and to maintain the same. One always wants to get some motivation and lot of will power to lose weight. And your hub is most appropriate for that. I like idea of a Pedometer.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub!
Mary from Cronulla NSW on October 19, 2013:
This is all such great info and help for those of us that are dieting Virginia or just watching what we eat..and such a sensible approach to sweets, I'm sure denying yourself completely never works..great tips & well done with your weight loss, so inspiring..VUUA & will pin..Cheers
Kevin W from Texas on October 19, 2013:
Very nice and interesting hub VirginiaLynne, these are all great tips. A diet is only temporary and will only change the numbers on the scale. Changing your body composition (muscle to fat ratio) is imperative to maintaining weight loss. Thumbs up on your hub.
Rayne123 on October 19, 2013:
I love this hub.That breakfast looks so good.
I am going to have to try it.
I like the idea of the body mass chart, thank you for sharing