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Your Fitness Plan for Weight Maintenance

How to Adjust Your Fitness Program after Reaching Your Weight Loss Goal
  -- By Dean Anderson, Fitness & Behavior Expert
If you’re thinking that reaching your goal weight means you can finally slack off when it comes to exercise, then it’s time to change that thinking right now. The fact is that people who are successful at maintaining their weight loss over time do as much or more physical activity than they did while losing weight.

According to the Framingham Study (the largest ongoing study ever conducted on what it takes to maintain weight loss over time), here’s what the successful “maintainers” have in common when it comes to physical activity: The good news is that you don’t have to live the life of a professional athlete in constant training to keep the bulge at bay. If you are athletic, continuing that level of activity is great, of course. But finding some kind of recreational activity that’s enjoyable enough not to feel like “exercise” is always a good idea. After all, you’ll have an easier time sticking to your exercise plan and beating boredom if you’re having fun.

But “moderate intensity physical activity” can also include brisk walking and anything else that gets your heart rate up to an aerobic level. In fact, walking is by far the most common form of regular activity successful maintainers do on a daily basis. And you don’t have to lug your laundry down to the local stream and do it by hand to increase your “lifestyle” activity; just unplug the electric can-opener and mixer, keep the cell phone in the next room, and take the batteries out of your TV’s remote control—you get the idea.<pagebreak>

Elements of the Ideal Fitness Plan
Exercising to maintain your weight loss isn’t much different than working out to lose weight, get fit or stay fit. The important thing is that you don’t slack off on any element of your exercise plan. People who struggle with their weight usually have metabolisms that naturally want to store extra energy as fat instead of burning it off. That’s not going to change just because you lost weight. You’ll have to work out just as hard—and as smart—to keep your metabolism in high gear and keep the weight off. Exercise and other lifestyle activities are essential to doing that. Make sure that, at minimum, your exercise program for maintenance includes these three elements: Moving Into Maintenance Mode
Going “off” your diet or exercise plan, and back to the patterns that made you overweight to begin with, is a one-way ticket right back to where you started. Ideally, you won’t need to make any big changes in your exercise routine at this point. (In fact, the fewer changes you make, and the smaller they are, the more successful you’ll be at keeping the weight off.) But you will probably need to make some minor changes to stabilize your weight. Here are some things to keep in mind: Remember that exercising for weight management is not all about the big calorie burns you get from an intense workout session—it’s also about walking a few extra steps every time you can, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking up the hill instead of going around it, sitting on a stability ball instead of a chair, doing things the old fashioned way, or pumping out a few jumping jacks during those TV commercials.

Now the ball’s in your court—all you have to do is keep it moving!