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Who hasn’t had this experience? As my mom once told me, “While I was gone, I dropped 10 pounds, but since I got back they’ve climbed back on.” This is a bigger risk if you lose weight abruptly, using a program you find unpleasant. Anyone might want to get out of the house if you’re sanding the floors down (ugh), but once the house is back to being a nice place to be, they’ll drift back in.

What are some things that make your body a place that your fat doesn’t want to come back to?

Mindful eating, with total calories in balance with your activity

Plenty of protein to keep your muscles and other tissues in good repair, and fiber to take care of your GI tract — satiating foods that make it easier to eat only what you need

Regular activity, which doesn’t have to be killing it in the gym — daily, low- to moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walks and strength exercise that you can do at home) keeps the body operating more smoothly

Enough sleep! Getting enough sleep keeps the body operating more smoothly and, frankly, leaves fewer hours of the day available for empty-calorie temptations

Simpler, whole foods — and minimal processed foods. This doesn’t mean no more Oreos, ever, just that most of your calories (around 80% to 90%) are good stuff.

Eating thoughtfully and getting some activity into your daily life can be big lifestyle changes. Adding healthy habits gradually is a slower way to fat loss, but it has the advantage of helping you practice the hardest part: the habits and skills that help make sure those extra pounds can’t find their way back.

New Yorker Cartoon by Robert Leighton (2003)

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