The Secrets to Losing Weight and Keeping It Off

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most of us know what it takes to lose weight: a healthy diet and regular exercise. Figuring out how to permanently change your lifestyle and keep the weight off for good is something not everyone has mastered. It's easy to think of weight loss as having a beginning and an end, as you start a diet and then finally reach your goal. But what's the secret to keeping that weight off for good?

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is a database of thousands of people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off long term (at least 30 lbs for more than one year.) A report from the American College of Sports Medicine on the NWCR found that these people have commonalities among their approaches to losing weight and maintaining that loss. Are these findings revolutionary and shocking? Probably not. But they reinforce some of the key behaviors that make keeping the weight off a lifelong success.

• 89% of participants used a combination of diet and exercise to lose weight.
• 98% exercise at home.
• 40% exercise with a friend.

The NWCR shares 7 tips for those trying to maintain weight loss:

"1. Be active. More than half (54 percent) of NWCR members expend more than 2,000 calories each week. This equals about 200 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise.

2. Turn off the television. About 63 percent of NWCR members watch television for fewer than ten hours per week.

3. Enjoy a low-calorie, low-fat diet. The average NWCR member consumes 1,380 calories per day, and less than 30 percent of these calories come from fat.

4. Keep your diet consistent. Resisting the urge to “splurge” on holidays or weekends, NWCR members eat the same foods on a regular basis.

5. Eat breakfast. Most NWCR members (78 percent) eat breakfast each day. This helps curb hunger and overeating later in the day.

6. Show some restraint. NWCR members exert great control over their eating habits, and they rarely overeat.

7. Keep track of your progress. Weighing in at least once a day and keeping track of food intake is essential for most NWCR members."

The good news is that these are all tips that SparkPeople reinforces on a daily basis. So whether you're still working toward your weight loss goal or focusing on maintenance, they are all good habits to employ. Looking for more good tips on maintaining your weight? Check out Maintaining a Healthy Weight and 3 Strategies to Prevent Relapse After Reaching Your Goal Weight.

What do you think? If you've reached your goal weight, do you have any additional tips to share?

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I went on a diet recently. All I lost was my sense of humor, my patience, my temper multiple times and 2 pounds. Report
NASFKAB 7/2/2020
Great Report
CECELW 2/2/2020
weigh yourself once a day? no Report
This is the first article I've read that recommends weighing at LEAST once a day. Crazy. Report
Thanks! Report
Did so great in November and December. JANUARY, not so much.... but still under 190!! Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Thank you for the information. Report
I am working my way down to ONDERLAND! I have lost over 100 pounds and have kept it off for just a little more than one year now. Is till have 50 pounds to go and this article made me feel like I can do it. Because, I do weigh in every morning. And, yes my weight does fluctuate, and it does remind me to get back on track with fluids, and exercise and fruits and vegetables. It is helping me. Report
I stopped losing weight on 1200 calories and 120 minutes of exercise daily so I am maintaining where I am at. Report
I had to UP my calories to 1200 to start losing weight. Today I rarely go above 1350 calories. When I gained a few lbs. due to broken bone in foot, I dipped back to 1150 calories and upped my exercise to 120 min. at least 5 days of the week to getm that weight off. I know my maintenance calories will stay in the 1350 area.
Being a senior sparker makes some difference, too. Plus the fact I have never been thin in my lifetime. Report
Great article--nothing speaks louder than success. I generally find advice offered by the majority of people who got it off and kept it off does indeed work for me. The 1380 cals. per day in and 2000 cals. per week out doesn't surprise me, and rings true to my personal experience. I had previously lost 65 pounds and kept it off for five years before my move to SC, a bad knee injury, then a rotator cuff injury upset my routine, balance, and discipline. Those figures truly reflect how I had to live to maintain my weight loss, except I exercised a lot more than 2000 cals. per week having really gotten into weight lifting and long distance hiking, prior to the injuries. After joining SparkPeople, I had little success losing until I had rolled back my daily calories to 1200. The thought of again being able to live off of 1380 cals.sounds like heaven to me now, but I know for a fact that it won't be all that easy when I finally get there. I am also 62, hypothyroid, and am losing a significant amount of weight for the second time (each time gets harder), so if you are blessed with a higher metabolism and can maintain weight while eating more calories, then just be grateful, because a whole lot of us can't. Everybody's metabolism is different. However, people who were very obese often have metabolisms that are slooow. If yours isn't, then you are fortunate indeed. If it were easy to maintain weight loss, more people would succeed in doing it. Maintenance is hard, Folks, real hard. Report
An average of 1,380 calories a day seems low to me too. No wonder I am struggling. I know I eat high end of calories but yikes! Report
Man...I really need to work on self control. I feel like every weekend, I just fall off my diet. I'm going to make it a goal to go at least 3 weekends without splurging. Report
I weigh once a week and think that is plenty. Report
I am elated tolearn that such a high percentage (98%) of dieters and excercisers workout at home for whatever their reasons and I am in that percentage. Tracking your food/nutritional intake is helpful and I have made improvements in my tracking efforts, recently noticing that I am sustained on a minimal 1550-1630 calories daily. My tracking provides the nutritional intake that allows me to see where increases or decreases can be made as far as fat, proteins and carbs are concerned. Report
I am elated to learn that such a percentage workout/exercise at home for whatever their reasons are and I am one of them. Tracking your food intake is helpful; I have made improvements in tracking my food intake and I have noticed that I can sustain myself on a approx 1550-1630 or less calories. Some days I may not accomplish as much as when my food/nutritional intake is higher. Report
I just did some quick math and I consume 1360 per day for the last six months since hitting my goal. I exercise 1hour and 40 minutes a day, seven days a week. My plan is to do it as long as it is possible. If I miss a day so be it. I have missed 4 days in the last year. I have never been able to keep my weight off once I lost it. I have now lost a total of 142 pounds and kept it off for over six months. It helps that I wear a size 2 now. I love my new life and if adjusting my calories up or down to stay where I want to be and exercising daily is what it takes...I am good with that. I know I won't be perfect, ever. I weigh daily sometimes more than once a day. I wear a Body Media Fit everyday and night. I know how many calories I burn each day. It is the only way I can keep a handle on what my intake should be. I have tried every diet, exercise plan and crazy scheme out there for my entire teen & adult life. This is what works for me. It sounds like it consumes a lot of time but I have gotten it down to a science. I do all my Sparking while I am on my exercise bike. I even listen to audio books sometimes instead of music when I walk. I accept this and will work to stay healthy, happy and hot (if I do say so myself). I look and feel better than I ever have. I am proud of my accomplishments. I think I am going to learn to speak Spanish. I can because if I can lose all this weight an keep it off, I can do anything. The bottom line is feeling like you can accomplish anything you set your mind to is well worth the extra effort involved. Plus my husband of 28 years loves the new happy confident me!! Report
Weighing in at LEAST once a DAY??? I'm thinking that must be a typo... once a week has got to be enough! And I eat 1600-1700 to LOSE weight... I would never maintain on 1380... I would drop DEAD! Report
What about sleep? Isn't that as important during maintenance as it is during weight loss? Report
1380 calories does seem rather low. I currently take in twice that amount but exercise regularly and am maintaining my weight. Otherwise, the other tips are great. Report
These people don't eat much. I guess we'll have to be on a perpetual diet to keep it off. Report
I'm so close to my goal (3 lbs to go) and I'm so concerned with the maintenance. I eat more than 1,380 calories now! I will continue to weigh myself daily even though I know I'll fluctuate. I Report
I agree with most, but don't go with so low a caloric input. You need fuel if you are going to exercise. Report
Okay, wait. 98% exercise at home? So gym rats don't keep the weight off? I find THAT the most depressing. Report
I think most of us agree 1350 is low. I burn about 1300 a day sometimes more and one day a week I take it easy and burn 700 I do well taking in 1800 which also just happens to be how much I like to eat lol It's different for everyone you just have to experiment and find out what works for you Report
I do expend about 1,400-2,000 calories a week, but I could never survive on that 1,380 number. I eat more like 1,600-2,000 to maintain my weight loss and I've been maintaining for about two years. Report
I agree to weighing often but understanding fluctuations... but 1380 calories a day with exercise.... hmmm... maybe not .. Report
"...these are all tips that SparkPeople reinforces on a daily basis..." Really? Consuming only 1380 calories a day when expending more than 2,000 calories a week in activity? And weighing in "at least" once a day? That doesn't sound like SparkPeople to me... I can take away some good tips from this article, but I think I'll toss out some others. Report
These are all great pieces of advice. The only one I question is having approximately 1,380 calories per day. This seems very low, at least in my opinion. Report
Wow, 1380 calories is below my SP range for *losing* weight. Doesn't seem reasonable to me. Also, I know from many past experiences that depriving myself of the occasional slice of pizza or birthday cake is just setting up for failure. Some good nuggets, but I'm taking this article with a grain of salt...or maybe pepper, so I won't up my sodium intake. :-D Report
I agree to keep my eating pretty consistent is important, but equally important is allowing myself the occasional special event or holiday splurge or treat. If I thought that I could never enjoy those "treats", it would make this lifestyle to restrictive and boring. The thing that I try to do that reinforces my healthy lifestyle and is key to my success is helping new members and Spreading the Spark! This reinforces the basics for me and reminds me of how far I have actually come and how much further I can still go. Report
Not sure about weighing in every day. I thought weight changes from day to day weren't that reliable as you can see a gain or loss up to 2 pounds from simple fluid change. Report
I have lost about 25 lbs. recently to goal, and am now 1/4 lb. below goal. I would like to lose about 5 lbs. more to stay in leeway. I weigh myself every day and every week at at TOPS chapter meeting. I had reached my goal a couple of times before and went above it. Thanks for the suggestions! I feel healthier than I have in a long time and my doctor has just told me I can stop taking my diabetic medication! Report
"Weighing in at least once a day and keeping track of food intake is essential for most NWCR members" ................

WHAT?!? Weighing in AT LEAST once a day????? That sounds incredibly obsessive!!! I think 1-2x's/week is more than enough. If you're sticking to your calorie allowance and exercising at the intensity YOU need (everyone is different), then why would you need to weigh in more than that?? I mean, honestly, are the way your clothes fit from day to day not enough of a clue in the meantime? Report
I have to agree with the low calorie count these people live on. This must be a maintaining intake of calories. I think I would very hungry on less than 1,400 calories a day with the amount of exercise I do. Report
needed that Report
I have maintained a 45lb weight loss for 11 years. I exercise at least 5 days a week, eat around 2400 cal most days, weigh myself if my clothing feel snug, very little tv, I don't exercise at home but in socal there is plenty of opportunity to exercise outside. In addition to the tips they mention If my weight goes up or down 3lb I reexamine my habits and adjust my exercise/food choices (w spark people of course) Report
I've lost 65lbs and have kept at my current (normal) weight for more than a year. Lots of good ideas here, but 1 and 3 are not necessarily that helpful. I was not able to get to my current level of activity (which does meet or exceed what they are saying) until after I lost close to 50lbs. Before that, exercise was not only difficult, but seemed to simply spur my appetite

As to 3, I eat between 2000 and 3000 calories a day 70% of which are from fats. 15% or less from carbs. If I dropped the fats and upped the carbs, I'd be right back where I started.

The one thing I would say is missing from this list is what you do needs to be a change for life, not a quick fix to lose weight. Report
1380 calories? That seems low to me. I have lost 95 pounds (only a few more to go!) and I have eaten 1900-2100 for most of my weight loss journey. Less now - closer to 1900 on average. So 1380 would leave me starving I think... Report
This is kind of depressing. I've had weight-loss surgery and I still eat more than 1,380 calories, more than 1500 at least half the time, it seems. But I sure don't burn 2,000 a week on exercise, no reason not to do my best there. And I watch less than 10 hours of regular TV a *year*...most of what I watch is DVDs of older stuff or movies...honestly I wish I watched more, believe it or not, it just never occurs to me. Report
I agree and have incorporated most of them, but the TV one. I workout to the TV and it is how I relax/spend time with my family. I have reduced it over the course of my weight loss journey and maybe will have it down to the above by maintenance. Report
I lost 60 lbs last year need to lose 20 more & this blog has lots of good ideas. Thank you for sharing. Report
I lost forty pounds when I could not exercise and have kept it off one year now. I'm working on loosing 30 more, and this time with exercise. So, I know I will do it. I had to learn to love different, healthier foods. If loosing weight was all about discipline I'd be hopeless. Fortunately, however, I found it wasn't. It was changing the way I think about snacks for example. Snacks is not another term for treats. Now I think of snacks as my change to eat fruits and vegetables. At the end of the day, if my calorie intake was too high and my nutrients are all met I enjoy a treat like everyone else. It also involved eliminating most stresses - adamantly finding ways to remove myself from the drama I couldn't control or affect. I will still eat if I don't deal with my emotions - so I deal with my emotions! I think about them and discern how to have the right emotions and alter my life to support those emotions. Now I'm well enough to work on fitness but the fundamental changes in emotional management, life management, discernment, attitude, and th embracing of healthier food came first - for me. Report
I have kept off over a 100lbs for a few years now. Still do a splurge meal once a week and eat very healthy for my other meals. Typical weigh ins are only once a week too. It's all about watching what you eat and staying active. Report
Lots to think about, and some good advice. Thank you. Report
1380 calories a day sounds really low for maintenance. It makes me wonder how little they were eating to lose. Report