The key to success in any area of life is building healthy habits and sticking to them. Whether your goal is related to your health, fitness, career, creativity, or personal life, consistently following through on daily actions (or habits) is the only way to achieve long-term results. For example, a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that a daily routine built upon a sturdy foundation of healthy lifestyle habits is required for sustained success. That’s why we’ve rounded up five daily fitness habits to keep the weight off long-term, according to an expert.
We chatted with Dan Johnston, CPT, certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach, who delivers some effective fitness tips for keeping weight off for good. Read on to find out what they are so you can add them to your daily routine and start carving your path to a healthier, fitter you. And next, check out Melt Lower Belly Fat With These Bodyweight Exercises.
When it comes to nutrients that promote healthy, long-term weight loss, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better contender than the almighty fiber. Research shows that consuming as little as 30 grams of fiber daily can aid in your weight loss efforts, decrease your blood pressure, and boost your insulin response. However, more research reveals that 95% of Americans don’t consume enough fiber despite fiber’s incredible health and weight loss benefits. Adding more fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, and other high-fiber foods to your diet can accelerate weight loss.
“Eating foods high in fiber is a great way to keep weight off long-term,” Johnston tells us. “Not only do foods such grains, vegetables, and fruits have plenty of vitamins and minerals (as well as a higher water content compared to some animal products), but their high fiber content has a satiating effect that can help you feel full longer and help prevent overeating.”
Whether it’s a slice of birthday cake, a hot dog, or your adult beverage of choice, it’s totally fine to indulge in your favorite comfort foods on occasion. However, it’s more important to adhere to a regular eating schedule and have a rock-solid plan for eating when you know you’ll be out of the house for extended periods. That means carrying small, healthy snacks or meals with you while at work or traveling to prevent giving in to temptation and choosing unhealthy, high-calorie fast food options that contribute to weight gain.
Ultimately, it’s incumbent upon you to self-monitor your eating and have a plan to avoid unhealthy eating habits when away from home. “Having a small breakfast can leave you starving by the time it gets to lunch,” says Johnston. “When you see food, all you can think about is getting as much as possible, which can lead to overeating. Avoiding this can help keep weight off long-term.”
It’s no secret that regular physical activity is essential for keeping weight off long term. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), healthy adults aged 18 to 65 should engage in moderately intense aerobic physical activity for at least 30 minutes five days every week or vigorously intense aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes three days weekly. In addition, the ACSM recommends doing strength training at least two days per week. Following these guidelines is a surefire way to promote sustained weight loss.
“Making sure you get weekly activity in some form ensures that you not only build healthy habits but also can minimize your chances of putting weight back on,” states Johnston.
While getting enough shuteye is critical for many aspects of your health (e.g., immune function, brain health, mood), making sleep a top priority can help you from regaining weight. “Getting a great night’s rest is another habit that can help you keep off weight,” says Johnston.
A 2022 study published in Nutrients found that poor sleep can cause people to overconsume unhealthy carbs and fats because sleep deprivation impairs several bodily functions throughout the day, heightening your body’s energy demands. As a rule of thumb, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting at least seven hours of quality sleep nightly. This will help keep overeating and weight gain at bay.
According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, chronic stress can lead to changes in eating behavior that promote weight gain, such as increased food intake and reduced physical activity.
“When you’re stressed, or your body’s in a state that makes it work harder for whatever reason, your energy demands skyrocket whether or not you’re doing any work physically,” explains Johnston. “That’s because your body perceives stress as being tired and wants to give you energy to function in some way. So by minimizing your stress levels, you help reduce your chances of overeating or enjoying too many drinks on the weekend.”