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10 Tips for Keeping the Weight Off

Here are 9 critical behaviors and 1 additional shift in thinking that make up the 10 most important things to do on maintenance. The first 4 behaviors characterize all my winners. The 6 additional behaviors describe most of my clients. And while I believe that all 10 are important, the first 4 are critical for success.

SPECIAL ALERT: The single most important thing you can do to keep weight off for a lifetime is so important I've changed the format of the text to indelibly etch it into your psyche.

1. Wear form-fitting or tight clothes! When you reach maintenance, you should have one size, and one size only, of clothing. I've found that nothing sounds the warning siren faster or motivates people to act with greater haste than when their clothing gets too tight!

Think about what motivated you to start your diet. If you're like many of my clients, you were uncomfortable with your clothing (or you couldn't fit into it) and appearance. When you have a little extra trouble buttoning a pair of jeans or find it necessary to add an extra notch to your belt, it reawakens the original motivation. When you have only one size, you have no choice but to stay trim. If you save larger sizes, you are making it easy -- too easy -- to just switch to a larger size instead of acting to correct any errors.

Also, if you don't plan to be heavy again, why save the larger sizes? When you reach maintenance, throw out the larger sizes -- immediately!

Knowing that you have only one size of clothing adds another powerful incentive to maintain your weight: economics! How many of us can afford to buy a whole new wardrobe especially one in a larger size? Your wallet gives you extra incentive to guard your weight loss.

Before people ever respond to the clarion call to health, they listen to the cry of their clothing getting too tight. I'd have a nearly empty office if I tried to motivate people to stay on maintenance on the basis of health alone.

Your wardrobe is the most powerful deterrent I know of against sliding once more into out-of-control eating. It signals your commitment never to be heavy again. That's why I insist that all maintenance clients discard all clothes that no longer fit, with one exception: I ask them to save the outfit that's their largest size (preferably one they disliked ever having to wear) as an eternal reminder.

2. Keep problem foods you have a history of abusing out of your home. Almost all the women and a very large percentage of the men I have worked with who regained weight started the slide in their own homes. The slide often began with a food they had a history of abusing but had avoided while they were losing weight.

Remember the study by researchers at the National Weight Control Registry that found that two out of three people who lose weight and keep it off keep problem foods out of their house? Although that food might not tempt you at this moment, I can't urge you strongly enough to remove it from your home or at least keep it permanently out of your sight. Remember, you're always vulnerable to the foods that have tripped you up in the past -- even on maintenance. Eventually, people tend to return to their old favorites if they are continually available. On maintenance, even more than weight loss, availability stimulates craving -- even if it doesn't happen immediately. Along with keeping only one size of clothes in your house, it's critically important to keep problem foods out of your home.

3. Set a weight ceiling, and defend it. Pick a number -- typically about 3 pounds for women, 5 pounds for men -- and don't let your weight go above it -- ever. No matter what happens, don't let yourself off the hook. Draw a line in the sand. If you see your weight going up, return to my A list eating plan for several days, and as the weight starts to move down, you can add selections from my B list. When the weight is back down, you can return to maintenance eating (my C list). Most of my clients expect increases in weight on weekends because of higher-calorie maintenance meals at home and out. Monday is typically the "high number" day of the week, but by Friday, they bring the weight back down to their goal weight, via Phase A and B eating.

4. Weigh yourself every day. Your bathroom scale can't weigh your behavior. However, it will tell you when you gain a pound or two. If you step on the scale the morning after a big meal at a restaurant or special event, your weight could be up. Don't be alarmed. If it's water weight, it will dissipate in 24 to 48 hours. You should expect slight variations during the week, especially after maintenance meals.

If it's real weight (3 or more pounds that remain over a period of several weeks), that should be a warning to you to take immediate action.

If you find it a bit maddening to follow the daily fluctuations of the scale even though you are eating properly, pick three days of the week on which you will always weigh yourself (for example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

5. Weigh yourself on the Maintenance New Scale, a nearly foolproof way to predict the scale of tomorrow (Explanation contained in The Thin Commandments Diet).

6. Exercise. It gives you structure and control. It gets you thinking about calorie burn and health consciousness and directs you away from obsessing about food. It's been shown that dieters who exercise regularly succeed the longest at keeping weight off. A study of more than 32,000 dieters by Consumer Reports magazine found that "regular exercise was the number one successful weight-loss maintenance strategy" of more than 81 percent of the long-term maintainers. In second place, at 74 percent, was the related strategy of increasing activity in daily routines. Also, as your body becomes lighter, it burns fewer calories. Exercise helps expand your calorie budget by burning the higher-caloric foods of maintenance.

And remember: Exercise generates endorphins, increases energy, and elevates mood.

Exercise provides you with a healthy outlet for stress. These effects help you follow through on your commitments, especially to control your weight. And as an outlet for stress, exercise shortcuts mood eating. It's the perfect alternative to keep your moods out of your foods.

7. Keep a photo of yourself at your heaviest weight. For added emphasis, place it next to a picture at your lightest weight. Many of my clients put the photo in a place where they feel most vulnerable -- the refrigerator door or kitchen counter, for example. Others elect to carry the photo in their wallet or purse.

Some of you may find it upsetting to stare constantly at a picture of yourself at your heaviest weight. Instead, carry a picture of what you look like at your lightest weight. You may find it motivates you even more to protect your accomplishments.

When it comes to weight control, a picture is truly worth a thousand words.

8. Keep a food diary. I'd like you to keep a diary for at least the first 90 days on maintenance. I ask my own clients to keep a diary for a full year. I want them to be certain they can manage the entire cycle of the year, with its holidays, vacations, special events, birthdays, summer versus winter eating, and so on. Since the same events and seasons come up year after year, once you get through the first year, you should be well prepared for the coming ones. After the first year, I frequently ask some clients to continue to keep a food diary or to keep a record of any "error" such as eating problem foods or excessive quantities of caloric foods.

A diary will serve as a daily reminder of the extras and/or negative eating habits. Writing out your meals and snacks a day in advance will help structure your thinking and help you steer clear of potential trip-ups.

9. Give yourself clear boundaries. Boundaries are a strong structure for your eating behavior. A major study of the winners found that 88 percent limited some type or classes of food. Another 45 percent limited the quantities of the foods they ate. Remember, if you don't have a good history of limiting a particular food, avoid it.

I help my clients establish clear boundaries and control their calorie budget with the lighter menus of Phases A and B of my eating plan from Monday through Friday, saving their maintenance meals or higher-calorie foods for weekends and special events. This clear boundary helps build an infrastructure of positive behaviors and smart eating habits that becomes automatic after a few weeks.

Most of my winners reinforce their boundaries with the techniques of Box It In and Box It Out. Many decide to Box Out a certain category or type of food. For some, it's baked goods, especially breadbaskets. Others avoid sweet baked goods (but may indulge in another type of sweet, such as a chocolate mousse). I want to emphasize again: They don't do this to make their lives difficult or to deprive themselves of something they want. They do it to make it easier to succeed at weight control -- which is something they want more.

10. Go beyond the food reward system. My winners enjoy the pleasure of fine food. Many of them dine regularly at fine restaurants. However, they've evolved beyond the childhood programming that views food as a reward or a treat.

They understand that no matter how beautiful a food looks or how enticing its aroma, if it's a food they have a history of abusing, it's no reward at all.

Some of my clients reward themselves with new clothes. Others enjoy a trip to a spa, a new necklace, or a weekend getaway with friends.

These are material rewards. A far more meaningful reward occurs each morning when they look in the mirror and see a trim body. There's no greater reward you can give yourself than to live the vision you have for your own life.

© 2005 by Dietech Co

Source: Reprinted from: The Thin Commandments Diet: The 10 No-Fail Strategies for Permanent Weight Loss by Stephen Gullo, Ph.D. . Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. or

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