How to Lose Weight After You’ve Gained It Back

Get motivated again—and keep the pounds off for good—with these smart and simple tips.

Have you ever reached your weight-loss goal only to find the number on the scale back up to where you started just a few years later? You’re not alone. In fact, 97 percent of dieters regain everything they lost within five years. Even people who’ve safely, gradually, and smartly dropped pounds often see at least some creep back.

The reason why so many of us struggle to keep the weight off is that maintaining—like losing—takes effort. But you can get back on track, and start losing again, with these expert tips.

Rediscover your good habits: You can’t lose weight with new, healthy habits then go back to your old ones after you’ve reached your goal, says Linda Melone, CSCS, founder of AgelessAfter50.com. If you lost weight by cutting out nighttime snacking but later return to noshing on chips while watching Jimmy Kimmel Live!, you’ll likely regain the weight. Even small habits that worked (like upping your water intake or avoiding restaurant breadbaskets) should be maintained at least most of the time for lasting success. “That’s the biggest argument against drastic measures like fasting and any diet that leaves you ravenous all the time,” says Melone. “You can’t do it forever, so you’re always better off going slow and easy, and then holding steady.”

Track your bites. Even if you’re measuring food or keeping track via an app like MyFitnessPal, you may be prone to ignoring small, seemingly harmless nibbles throughout the day. Yes, those three M&M’S® or a taste of a simmering sauce do count. “Figure that every ‘taste’ is likely to be at least 25 to 50 calories,” says Melone.

Don’t overestimate the power of exercise. Exercise is essential for losing and maintaining weight. In fact, a combination of cardio and resistance training can help you burn calories and boost your metabolism. But many of us overestimate just how many calories we really burn by working out. For example, walking for 30 minutes will burn about 170 calories—roughly half a bagel or eight Hershey’s Kisses®.

So while it’s key to stick with a fitness routine, be mindful that your workouts can’t make up for unhealthy eating habits.

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