Keeping the weight off is the hardest part

Three years ago, Miriam Shark wore a size 24. After topping out at 305 pounds, Miriam decided it was time to make some changes.

"It was holding me back professionally, it was holding me back personally, it was holding me back probably psychologically and in every other way," said Shark.

Miriam joined a weight-loss program in Baltimore and after two years, she had lost 160 pounds.

"Losing it is the easy part; keeping it off is the hard part," said Shark.

She's right. Only one-third of patients are able to keep the weight off for one year or more. If you really want long-term weight loss, you'll have to make some changes.

"It's a matter of getting them to change their habits, which are long-term and ingrained," said Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, MD, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center.

Like any other habit, a food addiction is tough to break.

"It's a very steep and slippery slope," said Dr. Cheskin.

Studies show most people who maintain weight loss are enrolled in weight-loss support programs. Keep stepping on the scale. Staying aware of your weight is key to keeping it off. And find a balance between food and the gym. Trading 150-calorie soda for a 30-minute walk can make you lose 10 pounds a year.

Easier said than done? Probably. Both Dr. Cheskin and Miriam Shark say continuing weight loss success is up to you.

"Instead of food being in charge of me, or weight being in charge of me, or obesity being in charge of me, I'm like, 'I'm in charge!'" said Shark.

With a little discipline and self-restraint, Miriam will stick to her diet well into the new year.

Statistics show by the year 2010, 75 percent of Americans will be obese.


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