3 Tips for maintaining your weight

Mar 28, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. ET

The yo-yo diet never works. You do something drastic to lose a lot of weight quickly, but without a good plan for weight management over time those dreaded pounds just inch back on. What is the best way to stay in shape and maintain the svelte figure you desire? Read on for the top three tips in healthy weight maintenance.

Woman chopping vegetables

1Stay away from fad diets

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fad diets that severely restrict food groups do not work in the long term. Sure, you might be able to eat celery and cabbage soup for the next three weeks, but will you want to do this for the rest of your life? Unlikely.

The best way to achieve permanent weight loss and healthy weight management is to choose a healthy eating plan that doesn't feel like a diet. Eat slowly. Monitor portion size and calories. Choose foods high in fiber and protein for long lasting energy. Fill up on healthy fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Plan wholesome snacks ahead of time so you don't end up eating empty calories out of the vending machine. Keep a food journal so you are aware of what you are eating and can spot any unhealthy patterns before they become a problem.

2Commit to healthy eating and exercise

If you want to maintain a healthy weight, the best way to begin is to commit to eat a wholesome diet of nutrient-rich foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats are not magic, but they are the building blocks of a healthy diet. When you fill up on fiber-dense foods and protein, you stay satisfied longer between meals. Try to limit foods with highly-processed grains and refined sugars. These foods make your glucose levels rise quickly, but can cause an energy crash and hunger soon after. Don't skip meals. This just causes your metabolism to slow down so you burn calories more slowly. According to Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., the director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and past president of the American Dietetic Association, "Eating snacks or mini-meals after every three or four hours can help avoid bingeing."

Commit to a fitness routine that fits with your lifestyle. Always wanted to try Zumba? Take the plunge and sign up for a class! Choose activities that you enjoy and plan ahead. Three to five 30-minute sessions a week is a good goal to begin. If you need a little extra motivation, find a workout partner. You will enjoy your workouts so much more if you are chatting with a friend meanwhile.

3Prepare meals at home

It is much harder to count calories and control portion sizes when you are eating out. Nowadays, many restaurant meals may contain an entire day's worth on calories. When you eat at home, you are in control. Plan tasty low-calorie meals ahead of time and shop for the ingredients you need. Choose healthy snacks like nuts, whole grain crackers, low-fat yogurt, tasty fruits and fresh veggies. Don't bring home any unhealthy foods that will cause unnecessary temptation and steer you off your course.

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