Congratulations, you’ve successfully lost that stubborn belly fat. Now for the hard part: keeping it off. This can be just as difficult as losing it in the first place because it’s all too easy to settle into a comfortable routine and revert back to old habits. According to U.S. News & World Report, a whopping 85% of people who lose weight gain it all back. And for most folks, most of that comes back around your midsection. Since you’ve worked your ass off to achieve your most healthy self, take good care of that newfound physique and treat your body with respect. If you’ve recently lost weight, keep that belly fat off for good with these seven tips.
1. Set goals and stick to them
You’re already familiar with setting goals, but they can easily fade into the distant past after you lose the weight. Suddenly, you’re thrust back into the real world of temptation without restriction. To fight back, Health recommends setting goals on an ongoing basis. Even if you’re not in hardcore weight-loss mode at the moment, working toward personal achievements, large or small, will keep you on track. Remind yourself to skip the office doughnuts during holiday season or sign up for a half-marathon that will force you to train consistently.
2. Keep a food journal
If you commit to writing down everything you eat, keeping track of your daily intake will be simple. It’s easy to pop a chocolate (or three) into your mouth in passing, and not think much of it, but if you’re diligent about recording everything you’ve eaten throughout the day, you won’t be able to say, “I can’t believe I’m putting the weight back on!”
In the same U.S. News & World Report article, registered dietitian Rachel Stahl says a food journal can increase awareness of how, what, and why you’re eating. “Monitoring what you eat and your physical activity has been shown to help not only with losing weight, but keeping it off,” she said. You’ll easily be able to identify trends that contribute to your weight gain, and make adjustments to diet, exercise, and lifestyle as needed.
3. Control the damage
Many factors play a role in weight gain: genetics, food intake, physical activity, stress levels, and more. In a Shape article, Sarah E. Richards describes her addiction to food as being an ongoing obstacle in her ability to maintain a healthy weight in the long run. She admits her awareness of this is what ultimately helps her control what she consumes during life’s ups and downs.
The lesson here is you shouldn’t let instant gratification get the best of you. If you know a stressful day leads to an unhealthy meal at night, remind yourself of the looming regret in the near distance. If a big bowl of carbs is calling your name, trade it for spaghetti squash. If you’re craving a loaded burrito, swap it for a veggie bowl. Hopefully, more times than not, you’ll be satisfying the same craving without doing serious diet damage.
4. Resist the urge to give in when dining out
This may sound obvious, but dining out with a group of friends doesn’t have to end in an overly stuffed, uncomfortable feeling. And the truth is, some people will order dessert even if they don’t really want it. In fact, Fitness describes this common social practice as a form of sociotropy, which is basically people-pleasing to the extreme. Even though you’ve told your friends you don’t want dessert, they convince you otherwise and you give in. The problem is a “just this once” mentality can easily turn into habit. Become more firm in your ways and stand your ground.
5. Step on the scale
While some people swear by scales, others despise them. No matter how you feel about it, weighing yourself can often help you stay on track. For many people, it’s not uncommon for a few pounds to go unnoticed, but you don’t want to let too much weight creep up on you. Before you know it, those skinny jeans aren’t fitting like they did last month. According to Everyday Health, seeing your actual weight can snap you into reality.
6. Plan ahead
Planning on the weekends? Sure, maybe you don’t want to, but if you’re committed to maintaining a healthy weight, it’s a must. The National Health Service explains planning helps to prevent changes in your routine from throwing you off. Spontaneous lunches out are bound to pop up when you’re being social on a Saturday, so anticipate such outings. If you have an office job, schedule time on a Sunday to write out all your meals for the week, and maybe even prepare and freeze lunches and dinners ahead of time.
7. Get support from friends
Tackling any problem on your own can be difficult. And struggling to maintain a healthy weight? Well, that can be the most challenging task of all. WebMD suggests looking to your friends and family for support. Everyone has off days, but if you establish certain go-to pals, finding support when you need it most will be a breeze. There’s no shame in reaching out for help, so commit to staying on track with a like-minded friend or family member who’s working toward similar goals.