Individuals who have lost weight must make permanent lifestyle changes in order to keep the weight off. Successful maintenance programs will include education on and assistance with the following factors to assist patients in making these changes.
Self-monitoring: For the first month or two of the maintenance period, as well as during periods of increased food exposure, regular weighing and recording of daily food intake and physical activity is required (e.g., during the holidays). If you gain weight, reintroducing this practice may help you get back in control. Contact with counselors on a regular basis is also essential. A regular schedule of weekly to monthly visits is required for effective follow-up.
Physical exercise: Daily physical activity is essential for successful weight maintenance; it is the factor cited by the majority of people in the National Weight Loss Registry as the most important in maintaining weight loss. To maintain weight, an average of 80 minutes of moderate activity per day or 35 minutes of vigorous activity per day is required.
Problem Solving: It is necessary to learn to identify and anticipate problems that threaten success. Individuals with problem-solving skills can devise strategies to solve problems as they arise.
Stress management: Stress can be reduced through exercise, relaxation, and social support. Techniques for stress reduction can be critical for some people who overeat in response to stress.
Relapse avoidance. Relapse, temporary loss of control, and resumption of old behaviors are all common occurrences. The key to relapse prevention is learning to anticipate high-risk situations and devise strategies to mitigate the consequences. Patients must learn to forgive themselves and view lapses as "learning experiences." Regaining control is critical.
Social support/influence. Sabotage by family or friends is common and can be stressful for the person attempting to maintain their weight. It is possible to learn to recognize intentional or unintentional sabotage. In extreme cases, a decision must be made between the weight-management program and the relationship. Creating a new circle of supporters or forming a support group may be beneficial.