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After logging hours at the gym and making better choices in your diet, you may think all the hard work is done once you hit your goal weight.

Turns out, you may have to work even harder to maintain your weight loss than you did to lose it in the first place.

Many people who lose weight will gain it back due to a number of factors, including their metabolism slowing down, a change in hormones, and reverting back to old habits that caused them to gain weight in the first place. Thanks to factors beyond your control, including the change in your metabolism and hormones, you’ll have to be extra diligent about keeping off the weight you lost in the first place. One of those ways is working out even harder than you were before.

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Why You Have to Work Out More When You Hit Your Goal Weight

“You may actually need to increase your exercise to maintain the weight loss versus how much you exercise to lose the weight,” Eduardo Grunvald, MD, program director at UC San Diego’s Weight Management Program, told POPSUGAR. “You burn less calories for the same amount of work. So to compensate for that, you may need to have to actually increase your physical activity, just for the maintenance. So you may have to increase physical activity more than you used to lose the weight.”

In fact, researchers who assessed the National Weight Control Registry, a database of people who have lost 30 or more pounds and kept it off for at least a year, found that people exercised more during the maintenance phase than they did during weight loss. “It doesn’t mean that you have to go to the gym for two hours or you have to run a marathon,” Dr. Grunvald said. “It just means that you walk an extra half hour, an extra hour a day just to maintain the weight.”

Another way to ensure that you keep off the weight is having a supportive environment; if you are eating healthy, whole foods but your spouse wants to keep processed junk food in the house, that’s not conducive to weight-loss success. A supportive environment can also come from a weight-loss program, dietitian, health educator, or obesity medicine doctor or clinic.

Other tips for maintaining weight loss are continuing to monitor food intake, whether with a food journal or a tracking app; weighing yourself regularly; planning your meals ahead of time; and limiting eating out.

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