Lock in Your Weight Loss, For Life!

Karen Asp

If you've ever been on a diet, you know that keeping the pounds off long-term is much tougher than dropping them. Find out the strategies that really work.

Fill Up on Low-Fat Protein
If you want to stay lean, consume protein at each meal—even snacks. “Protein helps you feel satisfied for an extended period of time,” says Lyssie Lakatos, RD, a New York City-based nutrition expert and co-author of The Secret to Skinny. It’s digested more slowly than carbs, so you’ll be less likely to feel ravenous soon after eating.

Smart snacks: red and green bell pepper strips with hummus, a celery stalk smeared with peanut butter or grapes and low-fat string cheese.

Schedule Your Workouts
It’s no secret that you need to stay active to keep the weight off. But you might not realize that your workouts should be consistent. “It’s easier for exercise to become a habit if you do it regularly instead of haphazardly,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, a New York City-based nutrition expert and co-author of The Secret to Skinny.

Short on time? Consider a.m. workouts. Life is less likely to interfere, so you’ll be more likely to stick with it, says Lakatos Shames.

Focus on Food Labels
You can’t prevent weight gain if you don’t know what—or how much food—you’re putting in your body. The key information on the label? The serving size and number of servings per container. Many packages contain more than one serving of a food. If you’re tempted to eat the entire bag or container, you’ll be consuming two or three times the calories and fat.

Also, pay attention to calories, fat, sugar and sodium content. Snack foods should have fewer than 120 calories, fewer than 3 grams of fat and fewer than 12 grams of sugar per serving. Bread and snack foods should have no more than 110 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Step on the Scale
That number can be very motivating. “I weigh myself daily so I can adjust my eating and exercise habits if necessary,” says Linda Gail Adams, 42, of Fairfield, OH, who lost 50 pounds and has maintained that loss for more than a year.

If daily weigh-ins don’t appeal to you, check in once a week, advises Lakatos Shames. Just make sure you’re weighing in at the same time in the same clothes. The best time to step on the scale? In the morning—you’ll get a more consistent reading.

Play Portion Police
Gigantic portions are a dieter’s nightmare. “Portions have gotten out of hand, so it’s easy to over-consume,” says Lakatos Shames. Gauge your portions using visuals—especially when you’re eating out. For instance, a serving of meat is 3 oz. or the size of a deck of cards. A grain serving is 1 oz., which is equivalent to a slice of bread. A cup of cooked pasta or rice is the size of a women’s fist, while food that fits in the cup of your hand is equivalent to a half cup.

Other ways to rein in your portions? Use smaller plates—and fill half your plate with fruits and veggies so you’ll have less room for unhealthy fare.

Make a Grocery List
Without a list, “you can make a lot of impulsive purchases—usually items that aren’t healthy,” says Lakatos Shames.

Shopping online is another option, since you won’t be as tempted by unhealthy foods. Plus, stores often track your purchases, so you’ll have an easier time reordering healthy food. You’ll still have to exercise restraint, though, because no one will see you buy junk food online.



May 2014