Losing weight can take a lot out of you, physically, emotionally, mentally. And many times, once it’s off, you feel like those calories will never return.

But the sad truth is that we easily pack on the pounds soon after because we tend to fall back into the same old bad habits as in the past.

If you’ve lost some weight, follow these 5 smart tips to guarantee that you keep it off for good.

1. Don’t diet
Dieters gain back their weight within 6 months to a year. Some even gain more than they lost after they stopped dieting. So instead of following some 10-week eating plan, why not change your entire outlook on food?

Food shouldn’t be a substitute for anything. That’s the first rule. Food should be eaten for nourishment and sustainability. It should taste good and look good as well to appeal to all your senses without being loaded with processed sugars and oils.

Make it a habit to eat foods rich in fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins, like fruits, vegetables - especially the green veggies, whole grains, meat, and fish. These give you the sense that you’re full for longer, and they contain few calories. Use aromatic vegetables like onions and garlic, as well as spices and herbs to make your food look, smell and taste delicious. You can also use condiments to add flavor to your dishes.

Another great trick to boost your metabolism and keep those calories burning all day is to eat small amounts of food several times during the day. Use small plates and enjoy a nourishing dish every 3-4 hours. This helps maintain blood sugar levels, so you don’t feel that slump in the afternoon while keeping your energy levels up and calories at a minimum.

Also try to really focus on what you’re eating. Most of the time, we’re too busy or tired to notice how our food even tastes. This is one of the worst habits you can have because it forces you to eat more than you should and leaves you feeling bloated and heavy. Instead, take a few seconds to appreciate your food; its texture and smell.

Taking in the whole experience of eating allows you to enjoy your food more without having the need to overindulge and eat more than you should.

Also, never underestimate the power of water. Drinking lots of water daily, especially before meals, keeps your body hydrated, increases metabolism and helps you burn off more calories. You can add vegetable or fruit slices for a healthy kick.

2. Strengthen your muscles
Did you know that when we age, we lose muscle mass? This is why it’s crucial to start strengthening your muscles to prevent fatigue, loss of balance and weak bones. Also, muscle tissue burns more calories, even when you’re not working out, than fat. Yet another reason to stretch and pump those muscles.

3. Accept the setbacks
There will be days when you’re faced with difficult decisions, like a party at work or going out with friends. If you can plan ahead, then you’re one step ahead of the game. You can fill up on healthy snacks before the event, or even have something in your bag you can munch on like carrot sticks or a granola bar.

There will also be cravings that gnaw at you until you can’t take it anymore. More often than not, cravings are never really about the food. They can be a signal that your body lacks a certain mineral. For example, when you crave chocolate, what your body is really saying is that it’s lacking in magnesium.

Cravings could also be a reaction to a stressful day at work, or an emotional problem you’re going through. All cravings last about 20 minutes so find something to distract yourself; watch TV, read a book, even brushing your teeth will quickly kill off your craving.

4. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
People who believe in the same things as you make it easier to enjoy a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. They support you and believe in what you’re doing, and sometimes even take the time to be your workout buddy or prepare meals with you. And, in turn, they become your accountability partner so that if, and when, you slip up, you have someone that provides understanding and support.

5. Exercise
The suggested minimum for maintaining weight loss is 250 minutes per week. This comes down to about 45-50 minutes of moderate activity for 5 days. While these numbers may seem disheartening, it’s actually simpler than you may think.

Pick an activity you enjoy, like walking, swimming, gardening, and start at your own pace. If you are not sure where to start, check out the article about twenty best exercises and workouts to lose weight fast.

You can also mix and match, so you don’t get bored. To make things even more fun, get a workout buddy, or join a gym and start meeting new people. After a while, exercising will become a natural part of your daily routine, and you’ll even start to look forward to it.

Author's Bio: 

Zara Creston is a yoga teacher, nutrition advisor and a veteran of creating digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Zara loves writing about wellness and health and is an author of ebooks and articles written for many well-known blogs and off-line publications.