Countdown to Maintenance

How to get ready for a lifetime of slimness

By Heather Hatfield
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

After months of healthy eating and regular exercise, you're this close to getting into that pair of slim-fitting jeans. You're excited, proud, elated -- and, truth be told, a little nervous. After all your hard work, how can you make sure those pounds don't sneak back onto places they don't belong?

"Actually losing weight is the easy part, it's keeping it off that's hard," says James O. Hill, PhD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado.

Not what you want to hear, given that diets aren't exactly a piece of cake.

But dealing with difficulty is easier if you're ready for it. To help you prepare, nutrition and weight-control experts who spoke to WebMD -- along with a dieter who is keeping the pounds off -- offer some advice on transitioning to the maintenance phase of your weight-loss program.

Motivation and Support

First, the experts say, make sure you have a strong support system in place. That can mean family, friends, a doctor or nutritionist, online or real-life buddies who've been in your shoes, or anyone who is supportive and encouraging.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that once you've hit your goal, you'll no longer need help.

"Transitioning from the weight loss mode to the maintenance mode is the part of the dieting process that people usually don't get help with," says Hill.