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You've dropped some poundage and are finally happy with the new body that shines back at you in the mirror -- but doubt creeps in when you think about what it will take to maintain your new ideal. Maybe you have a history of riding the yo-yo diet roller coaster or are just scared of sabotaging all your hard work; perhaps you haven't had a recent weight loss, but seem to gain weight if you just think about food. Whatever the case, it's normal to have some anxiety about weight maintenance. Fortunately, with a little vigilance and effort, it's actually quite easy to maintain your ideal body weight. Remember to always consult with your doctor before making dietary changes.
What Is Your Ideal?
Finding your ideal body weight is a little more complex than figuring your body mass index or looking at a height and weight chart at the doctor's office. There are several factors that go into determining your best weight, so setting a "hard and fast" number isn't always best. Family history provides a good glimpse into genetic factors that affect your weight. If you come from a family of "big-boned" or overweight people, it's unlikely you will ever be model-thin. Body composition and body fat distribution are also important factors. Muscle weighs more than fat, so two people of the same height could share the same weight, but the individual with more body fat will have more mass. Body fat distribution can be a health factor. If you tend to store fat in your upper body and midsection, you'll want to lower your weight and body fat, which is often associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Monitor Your Diet
People fail to maintain their ideal weight when they fail to keep track of what they put in their mouths. Weight maintenance is a matter of keeping an energy balance between how many calories you consume and how many you burn, so you should monitor both. If you eat more than you burn, 60 to 80 percent of the excess calories will be stored as fat. Avoiding excess calories involves more than just portion control, though -- you also need to be smart about what you eat. Tiny portions of calorie dense foods that lack nutrition, but are high in sugars and fats, can pack a mean punch. Stick with unprocessed, nutritious, whole foods and you'll sidestep many of these sneaky calorie traps.
Choosing to have an active lifestyle will make it much easier to maintain your ideal weight. Staying active involves more than dragging yourself to the gym everyday. Although regular exercise is an important part, increasing the level of activity in your daily routine is an easy way to burn more calories throughout the day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator and park further out in a parking lot when you go somewhere.
Drink Plenty of Water
Adequate hydration is important for almost all of your body functions and can help with weight maintenance. Water is calorie-free, fills your belly to quell hunger pains and can rev your metabolism. A 2003 study in "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism" found that drinking water can temporarily raise your metabolism. The study results indicate that increasing water consumption by 1.5 liters a day can result in an annual calorie expenditure of 17,400 calories, or roughly five pounds.
Fill up on Fiber
High-fiber foods will help you feel full and make you less likely to overeat. A 2011 study in "Obesity" revealed that for every 10 g of fiber eaten per day, a 3.7 percent loss in abdominal fat over the course of five years occurred. Scientists aren't quite sure how it works, but soluble fiber seems to reduce belly fat. According to MayoClinic.com, women should aim for 21 to 25 g of fiber each day, while men need around 30 g daily. Many fruits, vegetables and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. Some examples of fiber-rich foods include raspberries, whole wheat pasta, black beans, broccoli, oatmeal and bran cereals.
Avoid Quick Fixes
If you have gained weight and wish to return to your ideal, avoid the lure of quick fixes from crash diets. Extreme diets are unhealthy and those who follow them almost always gain the weight back. Make eating right part of your healthy lifestyle and weight maintenance will be a piece of cake -- a reduced-fat, low sugar one, that is.