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After you've lost weight, try at least one of these proven ways to keep it off

Losing weight is hard, and keeping it off is often harder.
/ Source: TODAY

Losing weight is hard, and keeping it off is often harder.

It’s more challenging because you feel you’re working hard, but there’s not much of a payoff. Unlike active weight loss where your effort translates to a decrease in pounds and inches, weight maintenance is more like treading water—you’re putting in a lot of effort, but not moving at all.

And while the scale does not move with weight maintenance, “not gaining” is a true and active goal requiring daily focus using the same tools as for weight loss. That’s why it’s called “life”-style — it’s never over!

RELATED: "The Biggest Loser" trainer Bob Harper discusses the difficulty of keeping the weight off

The two participants in our "Summer Slim down" achieved weight-loss goals by building their personal toolboxes for both early and long-term success. The key is finding personal insights for your weight-loss sabotages and and being both willing and able to find solutions for them.

These are proven ways to keep weight from creeping back.

1. Weigh yourself once a week

While the scale is only one way to “size yourself up”, it’s a reliable one to monitor your overall progress. It’s one of the best ways to detect weight “creep” – far sooner than clothes that don’t fit. Daily weighing can also work, but beware of fluid shifts that produce daily variations.

2. Keep a food and drink journal— use pen and paper or an app

Keeping track of everything you eat and drink keeps you accountable to yourself. Avoid the trap of estimating your daily food intake by memory.

3. Pre-plan your eating day

When you avoid the stress of choosing what to eat several times a day at the spur of the moment, you’ll optimize control of your meals and snacks (if you choose to include snacks).

Make sure to eat 3 times a day. Snacks can either support or sabotage weight stability.

Recent studies document that quitting snacking often boosts a weight loss effort.

4. Know your trigger foods and avoid them

Understanding the difference between a food (especially a treat) that satisfies when eaten in moderate portions versus one that triggers overeating. Avoid the most tempting foods that always lead to a loss of control, and find suitable substitutes. The only list to follow is your own!

5. Learn to barter your food choices

Select one and limit another.

RELATED: 8 healthy swaps to maintain your weight

6. Make your baseline 30 minutes of daily walking

Add to that with strength and flexibility activities.

While a daily brisk walk of 30-40 minutes is a smart cardio goal, it’s just the beginning. Exercise strongly supports weight maintenance, and adding the other two foundations of activity —strength training and flexibility — support healthy joints and increased muscle mass.

7. Get the right kind of support

Whether it’s a friend or relative, or a group, finding support is key to long term success. Find a “diet buddy” who shares similar goals, and wants to both provide and receive support.

8. Don’t skimp on sleep

This is very important: lack of sleep contributes to overeating. Extra calories are consumed as an energy boost, to fight fatigue. Being overtired also reduces mental focus for healthy choices, and leads to eating justifications like “fried zucchini is a vegetable”.

RELATED: 5 basic health habits can help prevent cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases