If you’re finding it challenging to stick with your weight-loss goals, you’re not alone. Perhaps you find your weight fluctuates, and a permanent loss of pounds feels impossible, but there’s hope.

A new study suggests a solution: Strive for consistency. Researchers found that following an unwavering schedule of exercising and eating healthy can help you manage your weight long term. It’s about making it a lifestyle that stands the test of time.

In the study, 183 overweight and obese adults participated in a weight-loss program in which they received counseling on diet and exercise over the course of a year. Researchers tracked their weight and offered assessment meetings at six and 12 months, and again a year after the weight-loss program ended. Results showed that those whose weight vacillated the most during the first few weeks were less likely to keep the pounds off for a long period of time, as opposed to those who dropped weight each week.

Lead author Emily Feig, PhD, says producing repeatable behaviors is really what is important to maintaining changes long term.

If that sounds intimidating, don’t fret. Developing consistency in your lifestyle may require a ramp-up period, but then it can build momentum in a short period of time says Kim Kelly, certified personal trainer, of Kim Kelly Fit. “If you are actually putting forward a healthy, hearty and committed effort, results will show. Once you see change and results, you want to keep going. Boom: You’ve now mastered consistency.”

SEVEN TIPS TO BUILD CONSISTENCY

To help boost your efforts in developing consistent behaviors for longstanding weight loss, we asked some health and fitness experts provide tips:

ATTACH EXERCISE TO ANOTHER HABIT

“For some people, working out at the same time helps, but others benefit from just linking exercise to some other event during the day. For example, if I always eat breakfast, check email and then exercise, that becomes a habit and I don’t have to waste brainpower deciding if I should exercise now or later (or not at all which can end up happening).”

Doug Barsanti, NSCA certified personal trainer and  owner of ReInvention Fitness

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE

“Small-group exercise classes are a good way to meet interesting people who share a common goal and can hold you accountable when needed. In our impersonal world of social media, texts and emails, the social aspect of exercise cannot be overlooked. For some, it is the only part of their day where there is a human connection.”

Carol Michaels, ACSM, IDEA 2016 Fitness Trainer of the Year

START WITH THE 5-MINUTE RULE

“Commit to doing five minutes. You will rarely stop there once you start. You can build from there.”

Corey Phelps, nutrition expert, certified yoga and Pilates instructor

PREPARE ON SUNDAYS

“Write the exercises you’re going to do in a notepad at the beginning of the week. This will keep you on track by knowing which workouts you’ll do that day. You will also save time in the gym by knowing exactly what to do, instead of wandering around guessing what exercises to do.”

—Andre Jawann, Jawann Fitness

DON’T LOOK AT EXERCISE LIKE A MARATHON

“Exercise for a maximum of 30 minutes. This will make your workout more motivating because it is such a small time commitment. Everyone has 30 minutes they could dedicate to exercise at least three times a week.”

Alex Robles, MD, exercise and fitness professional


READ MORE > USE WILLPOWER THE RIGHT WAY FOR ANY GOAL


CREATE A TRIGGER

“Whether it be a reminder on your phone, sleeping in your workout clothes or having a friend text you, it’s important to choose one action that will trigger a reminder for you to engage in your daily choice of exercise.”

Stephanie Rose Zoccatelli, strength and conditioning coach at Fuel. Perform. Conquer

LAY LOW

“We love telling people that we are going to get in shape, eat better or be a better version of ourselves. But what happens more often than not is we like the idea of telling people we are going to get in shape more than actually doing it. So when you fail, you can go back to those same people (Instagram Facebook, or whatever) and tell them that you didn’t fully ‘eat better’ or ‘change your workout routine.’ These same people can then tell you that ‘It’s OK;’ ‘You tried.’ No, it’s not. When you don’t tell anyone that you were working toward a new you and they notice your hard work, you can say, ‘Yeah, I committed and I did it.’”

—Joey Thurman, certified physical therapist and  creator of TheLifestyleRenovation.com

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