You're off your "diet"iStock/Alexandra Iakovleva
Dropping the weight is only half the battle: the results of your "diet" don't matter if you're not able to maintain the weight loss for good. If you abruptly give up your diet or workout routine after you reach your goal, you're not giving yourself the tools necessary to sustain it. "While fad diets may be fast-acting, they're unsustainable and don't show you how to keep the excess weight off," says Adam Rosante, fitness coach and creator of The People's Bootcamp. "As soon as you go off whatever plan you're on, the pounds come creeping back to where they were, and then some." Rather than going on a crash diet, make small changes that you can incorporate into your lifestyle for years, not weeks, to come. Learn the weight loss tips nutrition pros swear by.
You're too comfortableiStock/seifertstephen
While you were strict about what you ate during the weight loss process, when you reach your goal, you might be more indulgent. An extra piece of bread with dinner or another glass of wine might not seem like a big deal at the time, but they can add up and you may start to see the numbers on the scale creep up. "People might loosen up in places where they were stricter during their diet," says nutritionist Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. "You might push the limits, and sometimes push too far." Use these tricks to stop weekend weight gain.
On the other hand, you're too restrictiveiStock/svariophoto
It seems like a simple fix: cut out all carbs, stay away from animal proteins, or never eat dessert again, and the pounds will fly off. And it could work, at least in the short run, but a super-strict diet regimen can lead to a nutritional imbalance, according to Lauren Pincus, nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Starring You. By eliminating carbs from your diet, for example, your body will draw upon its storage carbohydrates, and when you do start eating carbs again, your system will react to the sudden influx and you could gain weight back quickly, says Pincus. (Related: Don't believe these myths about eating a low-carb diet.)
You're not caring for your gutiStock/Juanmonino
More and more research has emerged about the relationship between gut health and weight loss—there's a reason probiotics are so popular—and taking care of your gut flora possibly has a big impact on how flat your stomach is. According to Scientific American, different stomach bacteria can regulate various hormones, including ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. Eating highly processed foods can not only overwhelm your system with empty calories and chemicals, but it can also damage your gut's ecosystem, destroying the bacteria that will naturally help you stay a healthier weight. Incorporate these probiotic-packed foods into your meals to make for a happier gut.
You misread your hungeriStock/mediaphotos
Part of the difficulty in keeping weight off is that your body doesn't know you're trying to reach a different number on the scale. While you're worried about fitting into skinny jeans, the sudden caloric restriction is making your body think it's starving. "When you lose weight your leptin levels, which help control hunger, plummet," says Pincus, meaning your body might be telling you it's hungrier than it is, seeing your restricted diet as a famine, rather than a choice. When you do eat, listen to your body: you want to feel satisfied, rather than stuffed, and eat slowly enough that your body has time to process the food and give you feedback. Cutting out the distraction from screens can help accomplish this. Hunger pains can also be a sign of dehydration, according to Gans, so reach for your water bottle before a snack.
You're not getting enough sleepiStock/PeopleImages
The benefits of a good night's sleep cannot be touted enough and getting enough deep sleep is a critical part of weight loss and maintaining it. Not only can being tired make you more stressed and increase cortisol levels, you're more likely to choose unhealthier foods too. "When you are tired, your body craves carbohydrates, and when you're tired, you don't want to make the healthier choice," says Gans. For example, you may grab a bagel instead of making a healthier omelet that's loaded with veggies. "Starting the morning on the wrong foot can make you feel like the day has been ruined so you continue to eat unhealthily all day long," says Gans. Check out expert-approved tips on how to get better sleep.
You're eating the same amount as you did pre-weight lossiStock/Preto_perola
"When there's less of you, you need fewer calories," reminds Pincus. You no longer need all the calories you were consuming before, because you've achieved a smaller, leaner body. "When you lose weight, your metabolism can slow and your lean body mass and lean tissue can be lost," says Pincus. This is especially a problem as we age, but one good way to counter a slowing metabolism and loss of lean muscle is through strength training.
You aren't keeping track of what you're eatingiStock/Anthony Mayatt
Food journaling, whether being old-fashioned with pen and paper or using an app or a website, can be a helpful everyday tool to lose weight—and keep it off. "If you stop food journaling, you become less accountable," says Gans. Especially if you're struggling to adapt to a lower-calorie lifestyle, keeping track of each thing you eat can be an easy way to make sure your eating is on track.
Your workout isn't workingiStock/Christopher Futcher
According to trainer Nicole Winhoffer, people may become so committed to one workout routine that it no longer works. "Your body plateaus during physical exercise when you don't try new or different exercises to challenge it," says Winhoffer. Brittany Mullins, a health coach and personal trainer, suggests creating a routine that you enjoy and will want to continue. "Pick things that make you happy motivated, inspired," she says, suggesting a blend of cardio and strength training. "If you love dancing, do Zumba with weights on the side." (Related: Check out the truth behind 11 fitness myths.)