Dieting Dilemma: Keeping Weight Off

A lifestyle overhaul works better than dieting

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

If you're losing weight, celebrate! A manicure, a massage, three or four M&Ms -- live it up. For every goal you meet, you deserve a reward. Weight loss is not easy.

At the Canyon Ranch health resort in Tucson, Ariz., Michael Hewitt, PhD, research director for exercise science, knows the power of positive strokes.

In fact, the Canyon Ranch philosophy is that "your body today is absolutely perfect," Hewitt tells WebMD. "I'm not saying you're as lean as you could be. But within your genetic potential -- which you can't escape -- your body has adapted perfectly to your patterns of eating, exercise, to the way you've been living your life."

Translation: I'm OK, you're OK. But we're sure not perfect. An overall lifestyle change is necessary to get slim and stay that way.

"You must find the balance -- in diet, in exercise -- that maintains your new weight, without having extra weight creep back on," says Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, MD/LD, director of nutrition for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic.

Your mission: "If you can keep the weight off for one full year, you've gone through every birthday, every holiday," Zelman tells WebMD. "You have figured out how to do it and proven you can keep it off."

Meditate on This

Maintaining weight loss begins in your brain. "Visualize who you want to be," advises Hewitt. "Then decide what you have to do to get there. To maintain a leaner, lighter you, how will you have to live your life?"