Need help figuring out how to maintain a healthy lifestyle? You’re not alone. Eighty percent of Americans surveyed by the International Food Information Council in 2018 encountered conflicting information about food and nutrition, and 59% of them said it caused them to doubt their decisions.1 If you’re working hard to maintain a healthy weight, the last thing you want to do is derail your progress, or hit a weight loss plateau. So, how do you decide what advice to follow? We sat down with Briana Rodriquez, Jenny Craig’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, to get back to basics and discovered some surprising tips to stay healthy that will help support your weight maintenance journey.
1. Enjoy a healthy, balanced diet.
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“If you lost weight by eating healthy foods and incorporating physical activity into your routine, you’ve likely learned some excellent habits, like what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat — but being consistent with these new skills is the key to maintaining your weight,” says Rodriquez. “Making sure you continue to eat balanced meals is so important, not only for weight maintenance but also for your overall health.”
The most balanced meals have a mix of all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Healthy sources of all three of these macronutrients will give you the energy you need, whether you’re maintaining weight or losing weight. The good news is, you don’t need to cut out any of these food groups to lose or maintain a healthy weight. For example, some trendy diets tout extreme weight loss results by drastically reducing or eliminating carbs from your diet. But here’s the thing: Vegetables and fruit are fiber-rich sources of carbohydrates that are satisfying and good for you, plus, they’re more nutritious than your average white bread or pasta. Stick to complex vs. simple carbs. Complex carbs tend to be more satisfying and are often high in fiber. By eating healthy, balanced meals rather than depriving yourself of certain foods, or worse, skipping meals to lose weight, you’ll be more equipped to maintain your habits long-term.
How do you build a balanced meal? Rodriquez suggests filling your plate with lots of your favorite vegetables (the more non-starchy greens, the better!), then adding a smaller portion of lean protein (like chicken, fish or tofu), a healthy fat (like avocado, nuts or seeds) for added nutrients and flavor, and a small side of fruit for dessert. For a refresher on how to create a delicious, portion-conscious plate, try these easy serving size suggestions.
2. Weigh yourself frequently.
Maintaining your goal weight while trying to keep up with a healthy lifestyle may seem difficult, but this surprising strategy could help. Weighing yourself daily isn’t just beneficial for weight loss: Research has found that it may be helpful for maintenance, too. One study suggests weighing yourself daily and seeing your results could encourage you to be more accountable, which may promote weight maintenance.
A group of 111 adults was asked to maintain their weight during one of the most challenging times of the year — the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, their daily weigh-ins were placed on a graph, which allowed participants to see a visual of their progress. By the end of the study, participants had successfully prevented weight gain. Researchers think the combination of daily weigh-ins and the visual element of a graph helped participants make small changes to stay on track.2
Want to try this out for yourself? Track your progress using Jenny Craig’s mobile app.
3. Take part in regular exercise.
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Exercise isn’t just helpful for encouraging weight loss — research shows it may also be important for weight maintenance. A review of several studies found that participating in more physical activity may help people to maintain their weight.3 And while exercise duration and intensity varied across the studies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest gradually increasing your activity levels to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or a mix of the two every week.4 Check out this Beginner’s Guide to Exercise, grab a friend and get started!
If you’re just starting to add exercise to your routine, start with an easier activity, like walking, says Rodriquez. By not doing too much too soon, you’ll likely avoid injury, and it may be easier to keep up your new fitness routine.
Walking, for example, may provide a variety of health benefits and doesn’t require any special equipment or experience, making it an ideal activity to support your weight maintenance.
4. Get plenty of restful sleep.
It’s a common scenario: After a sleepless night, you feel groggy and find yourself grabbing a doughnut for a quick pick-me-up — followed by a snack from the vending machine to get through the afternoon. Why are you craving high-fat and sugary treats? Sleep can impact your hunger hormones, causing you to reach for unhealthy foods.5 Getting a good night’s rest may help regulate hunger hormones such as ghrelin (the hormone that promotes hunger) and leptin (the hormone that signals fullness).
Skimping on sleep can throw off your best weight maintenance intentions and may increase your likelihood of regaining weight. A 16-year study of 68,000 middle-aged women found that those who slept five hours or less gained weight and were 15% more likely to be at risk of developing obesity, compared to those who slept seven hours each night.6
So rest up! Beyond weight maintenance — getting quality rest may provide a host of other health benefits — including the potential to boost your immune system and mood, and even the potential to improve your cardiovascular health.7
Try these simple, effective tips to get a great night's sleep!
5. Find a great support system.
It’s just as important to have the support you need during weight loss as it is during maintenance! We get it: There may be days when maintaining your weight feels challenging. Rather than struggling to find your motivation alone, fall back on a strong support system, which may include a structured weight maintenance program, a weight loss consultant, your friends and family, or your doctor.
A recent review suggests that continued interactions with a healthcare provider or within a group can significantly improve weight maintenance over time.8 Your support system will remind you of your victories — both on the scale and off — to help you keep up with your healthy lifestyle.
6. Stick to the plan (even on the weekends!).
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With weight maintenance, consistency is key. Although it might be tempting to stray from your healthy habits during the holidays or over the weekends, making mindful choices every day will help you to maintain your weight over time.
No matter the occasion, look for healthier food choices to support your goals, like these:
- Love sweet treats? Try these 10 delicious snacks and desserts any time of the year.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and opt for refreshing sparkling and fruit-infused waters.
- Need a little inspiration in the kitchen? These easy-to-make recipes will show you how to make a variety of meals, snacks, desserts and drinks and feature fresh, nutritious ingredients.
- Skip the fast-food line by trying out these 13 meal prep tips to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks ready right when you want them.
- Butter vs. Olive Oil: An easy way to make your favorite foods healthier is to swap butter for olive oil or coconut oil, which contain healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight doesn’t have to be difficult — sometimes all you need is a good recipe and a few meal hacks!
“Maintaining your weight can be challenging, but having the right meal plan, a strong support system and easy-to-follow strategies can make all the difference,” says Rodriquez. “You don’t have to do it alone! A weight maintenance plan can provide these resources to help you stay on track.”
If you notice you’re still gaining weight despite your best efforts to maintain your goal (it happens!), there might be something else to consider — your DNA. Find out if you’re genetically predisposed to regaining weight and get the answers you need with Jenny Craig’s DNA Decoder Plan.
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig and has written for the health and wellness, tech, and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. They employ an “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoy the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find them photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.
Favorite healthy snack: green apple slices with sunflower butter
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including a scientific, peer-reviewed paper. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.