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How Long You Keep the Weight Off Affects Weight Regain

The longer you make it, the easier it is


Updated June 20, 2014

5. The Time Factor

How long you can maintain weight loss is another important factor in whether you keep the weight off or gain it back. Experts have found that people who maintain weight loss for more than two years tend to keep it off. It seems that, the longer you maintain weight loss, the better you get at it, mastering the delicate balance of calories in and calories out and figuring out how much exercise you need to maintain that balance.

Two years may seem like a long time, but most of us have a lifetime of bad habits and weight problems to overcome. It's going to take time to unravel all that history. Remembering how long it took to gain the weight may help you keep things in perspective.

Sticking With It

Sticking with it doesn't mean you have to be perfect for the next two years. There will be times you fail - You'll get sick, get slammed by holidays, get injured, go on vacation or just lose your mojo. When that happens, and it does for all of us, how you respond is crucial to your success:

  • Get Back on Track - Falling off the exercise wagon will happen, but what's important is what you do about it.Recognize that a mistake is a one-time thing and something you can overcome by admitting your mistake and easing back into your program.
  • Learn The Right Way to Fail - Whenever you make changes in your life, failure is inevitable. At some point, you return to those old behaviors but, each time you do, you learn something important about the process and about yourself. Using that failure to your advantage will help you get back on track.
  • Learn to Think Like an Exerciser - Changing how you think about yourself and about exercise is a crucial element to your success. Exercisers tend to look for opportunities to exercise rather than reasons to skip it. Paying attention to how you think about exercise can help you learn to look at it in a more positive way.

While regaining weight is something many of us struggle with, there are no simple solutions. One thing most experts agree on is this: It's much easier to prevent weight gain than it is to lose weight. Once the weight is on, your body (and your mind) will often fight to keep it that way, which is what often leads to weight regain. Knowing that, ask yourself what would happen if you focused on avoiding weight gain rather than losing weight? Practicing the healthy habits you need to keep your weight in check may just lead to the weight loss you've been looking for.


Greenberg I, Stampfer MJ, Schwarzfuchs D. Adherence and success in long-term weight loss diets: the dietary intervention randomized controlled trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Apr;28(2):159-68.

Hill J, Peters J, Wyatt H. Using the Energy Gap to Address Obesity: A Commentary. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 November; 109(11): 1848–1853.

Kravitz, L. Len Kravitz. "Physical Activity, Weight Loss and Weight Regain." Web. 28 Jun 2011.

MacLean PS, Higgins JA, Wyatt HR. Regular exercise attenuates the metabolic drive to regain weight after long-term weight loss. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Sep;297(3):R793-802.


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  6. Weight Regain - Two Years of Maintaining Weight Loss Can Help Avoid Regaining Weight

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