Doctor explains the keys to keeping weight off in the new year -- for good

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File photo (iStock / MartiSaiz)

A new year means a “new you.”

It’s no wonder that weight loss is often cited as the No. 1 New Year’s resolution for Americans. But even if we manage to lose a few pounds, sometimes keeping weight off can be just as difficult.

According to Dr. Leslie Heinberg, Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic, the first step in weight loss success is to understand that the journey to weight management is not a one-and-done approach.

“The way we have set things up, in our own mind, is that you lose weight, you go on a diet and -- hooray -- you’re done,” she said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the finish line. That’s just the starting line to a much longer and somewhat more complicated challenge, which is keeping that weight off over time.”

Without actively working on weight loss maintenance, Heinberg said, the vast majority of people will regain their weight because their body’s biology will fight to get back to its old weight.

That’s why it’s essential to find a way to work more movement into your lifestyle.

“Physical activity is helpful when it comes to losing weight, but where it really is powerful is fighting against that biology,” Heinberg said. “Ongoing physical activity and quite a bit of it, 150 to 250 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, is what seems to be very helpful in weight loss maintenance.”

When it comes to weight loss, there is no such thing as a quick fix. To achieve long term weight loss, according to Heinberg, slow and steady wins the race, and making lifestyle changes that you can keep up past January is key.

“It took quite a while for weight to come on and it takes a long time for weight to come off,” Heinberg said. “Diets that are extreme and that promise an enormous amount of weight loss in a short period of time are the ones associated with the highest dropouts, and often times, more weight regain.”

Heinberg reminds people there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. Many people try several approaches before finding a plan that works for them. She recommends enlisting the help of a health care professional to help figure out what works for you.