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How to Stay Motivated After You Hit Your Weight Loss Goals

Payton Baker, RD, MS, LMNT

Published in Weight Loss

9 min read

February 15, 2022
October 4, 2023
a person measuring their waist
a person measuring their waist

The journey to meet your weight goals is rarely an easy one. You may be trying to prevent obesity or shedding a little belly fat. Maybe you’re trying to reach a healthy weight, or attempting to maintain your weight as part of a healthy lifestyle. Whatever the aim, weight maintenance can be an uphill climb. So, if your weight loss efforts have been successful and you’ve met your weight loss goals, congratulations! It means you’ve fought cravings, climbed past weight loss plateaus, and controlled portion sizes as part of your weight loss plan. 

But now that you’ve shed your goal weight, what’s next? Do you go back to the dietary and lifestyle habits you had before your weight loss journey? Can you continue with the same activity level to maintain your target weight? Should you keep working with a nutritionist or registered dietitian and continue with the food intake from your weight loss plan? 

If you’re unsure what to do to keep yourself motivated after hitting your weight loss goals, you’re not alone. Approximately 80 percent of dieters who lose weight end up regaining it. It’s likely because after the initial push to get to your ideal weight, it can be challenging to sustain healthy habits that keep the weight off. 

But don’t be discouraged! There are many ways to maintain healthy dietary and fitness habits even after reaching your goals. Read on to learn more about how you can do this. 

Why Am I Regaining the Weight I Lost?

a person squeezing their stomach

The first thing you should do is learn why you’re regaining weight. After all, you managed to burn calories and control your cravings enough to lose weight in the first place, right?

There are many reasons you might find yourself regaining weight after hitting your target goal. The process of initially losing weight is a combination of dietary changes, habits, and physical activity. Still, all the effort involved can be challenging to maintain in the long run. Weight maintenance can help with your overall wellbeing. Developing a mindset that keeps you going past the initial excitement of shedding the pounds is half the battle won here. Besides, it’s typically easier to revert to old habits than maintain new ones! 

There are many reasons you’re regaining weight. These include unrealistic dietary restrictions during the weight loss process and short-term weight loss programs that don’t include sustainable lifestyle habits. Most importantly, you have to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all diet or fitness routine. Everyone’s bodies are different and require different weight loss plans. 

Here are a few of the most common reasons for less-than-successful weight loss journeys:

Extreme Diets or Diet “Fads”

trio of people having a meal

Many people who embark on weight loss journeys use extreme diets to lose weight as quickly as possible. Not only are these diets unsustainable over time, but things like harsh caloric restrictions may change your metabolic rate and affect the hormones that regulate your appetite. These things may cause you to begin gaining weight after you “finish” the diet and reach your goal weight.

An Unhealthy Mindset

a person sitting at a table full of unhealthy food, looking stressed out

You shouldn’t view your weight loss journey as a task to complete and check off your list. Remember that while not all weight gain is bad, if you do need to shed a few pounds, it’s a good idea to focus on maintaining your weight as much as you do losing it. When setting goals and timelines for your weight loss journey, remember to factor in your long-term goals. It can help you approach your weight loss with a healthier mindset that will focus on sustainable lifestyle changes. 

Unsustainable Weight Loss Habits

a person talking to a doctor

Sometimes, diets and fitness programs specifically for weight loss focus on setting rules while losing weight, not lifestyle changes to follow over time. Sustainable weight loss should incorporate habits integrated into your daily life. It can be helpful to work with a registered dietitian to maintain a healthy lifestyle and eating habits after you meet your weight loss goals. 

What Can You Do To Make Your Weight Loss Sustainable?

a person eating a salad

According to the National Weight Control Registry, people who keep the weight off most successfully continue the healthy habits they start during their weight loss journey. The report found some interesting facts about those who keep the weight off, although they vary among members. It found that 78 percent continue to eat breakfast every day, and 75 percent weigh themselves at least once a week. It also found that 90 percent of these people exercise for around an hour a day, on average. 

Remember that every journey will look different, and it can take time and patience to discover what a truly healthy and sustainable lifestyle looks like for you. So, don’t get discouraged if your weight seems to be going up and down a bit initially. Instead, focus on a healthy lifestyle that promotes long-term weight loss success. 

It can be helpful to speak with a healthcare professional and work with a personal trainer or registered dietitian as you settle into life at your target weight. They will help you figure out the proper food intake (number of calories, healthy foods, and so on) and activities you should engage in to maintain your target weight. You will need to factor genetics, gender, age, and schedule into the choices that you make after your initial weight loss journey. 

Here are some things to consider to help you make yours a long-term weight loss success story: 

Create a Sustainable Eating Schedule

a notebook, cookies and a cup of coffee

Eating on a schedule can help your metabolism maintain itself. Good eating habits also have links to sustainable weight loss. Creating a routine around your meals can make it easier to make eating healthy foods habitual. On the flip side, skipping meals and eating at odd times (especially late at night) can contribute to gaining weight again after you lose it. 

Integrate Core Food Types In Every Meal

It’s important to balance every meal, not just your dinner plate. Integrate healthy fats, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber foods in every meal. Healthy fats, protein, and fiber are vital ingredients for a healthy, happy gut and blood sugar level. 

Make Hydration a Habit

a person holding a bottle of water

Hydration is a crucial habit to form if you haven’t already. Water can help you lose and maintain a target weight as it can work as an appetite suppressant, and may also help you burn calories! Drinking enough water helps your body recognize when it is full and increases your metabolism.

Stick to a Sleep Schedule

Did you know that getting enough sleep positively affects weight loss and weight maintenance? Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep have lower levels of leptin, a hormone that controls your appetite, and higher ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for increasing your appetite.

Consider Getting Professional Help

two people making notes in the kitchen

Working with a professional could help you understand and build sustainable lifestyle changes. Consider working with a registered dietitian and a personal trainer while developing your weight loss maintenance plan. They will bring years of education and expertise to the table while building the right plan for your needs. They will also be there to hold you accountable and cheer you on!

Learn More About Your Body

What does healthy eating look like for you? Are you overeating or undereating? What’s the best weight management plan for your body? Consider using tools and gadgets to help you track blood pressure, heart rate, daily calorie burn, and blood glucose to understand your body better. For example, wearing a Fitbit or an Apple watch will help you see how the physical activity you engage in works for your body. And you can learn more about your blood glucose levels with a continuous glucose monitor. You can also focus on learning more about the foods you eat and the health benefits they provide for your body.

Create Habits That Minimize Stress

a person making notes

Stress can affect your weight loss goals too. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, which has links with weight gain. In our crazy, modern world, it can be hard to minimize stress, but try finding moments of peace and develop habits like journaling, meditation, or walking to reduce your stress levels and help you find a daily sense of calm. It can help reduce your risk of weight gain due to hormone-related appetite stimulation.

Practice Patience

Losing weight shouldn’t be a race against time. Use patience when developing a plan for weight loss to be something that can be created and sustained over time because crash dieting can result in constant weight fluctuation. Proper weight management will rely on making changes you can stick to instead of temporary and unrealistic routines.

Build a Support System

two person stretching outdoors

Whether you choose to work with professionals or not, tell a friend or family member about your goals so they can encourage you to stick to them. If you know someone that also wants to lose weight, ask them to go on the journey with you! 

Keep a Progress Journal 

Writing down your goals is a great way to start your journey and will give you something to look back on as you begin to reach each goal you set for yourself. It can also be helpful to write down daily eating habits and exercise routines. It will also help you stay accountable.

Be Mindful of Your Body

a person having a massage

Remember to pay attention to what you’re feeling during and after your weight loss journey. Let your body rest when needed and pay attention to when you feel hungry and feel full. If you aren’t feeling like your best self at any point along your journey, you may not be getting the nutrients and rest you need.

Find a Fun Exercise or Activity 

When looking for physical activity to engage in on your weight loss journey, make sure that you find something fun. You’ll only build a sustainable habit if you enjoy doing it. If you don’t like gym environments, find a sport that you can do outside, like tennis or running. Make weight loss fun! You might even make new friends that also like the same activity.

Consider Meal Prepping

a person making toasts

It can be easier to stick to your commitments if you have a solid plan. Consider meal prepping for the week if you tend to be busy and grab food on the go or find it hard not to give in to temptation. You could even start meal prepping your lunches to have something ready to go that is healthy during your workday.

Practice Self Forgiveness

Nobody’s perfect. You might make a mistake or find that you have trouble adjusting to new habits, and that’s okay. Remember, tomorrow is a new day, and it’s never too late to get back on track! 

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Cheri Bantilan, MS, RD, CD

Reviewed by: Cheri Bantilan, MS, RD, CD

Cheri is a registered dietitian and Health Co-Ordinator Product Development at Nutrisense, with a Master's degree from the University of Utah in Integrative Physiology and Nutrition. She has a strong interest in functional and integrative nutrition and emphasizes the importance of exploration and using your own body (symptoms, energy, mood, labs, CGM data) to find what your personal optimal is.

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