People who wish to lose weight often think of it as a process that begins when you make changes to your lifestyle such as your eating and exercise plans and ends when the weight has hopefully been lost. They see it as a temporary undertaking when they really should be looking to make permanent lifestyle changes so that the weight loss will stick.

Weight gain is a long-term problem, so there is no short-term solution for it. When you only think short-term this is where the problems with yo-yo dieting and on and off exercise programs come in which will never get you to your goal.

Here are five strategies for keeping the weight off.

1) Balanced meals – The right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats is needed in each of your 4-6 small meals spread throughout the day. Get rid of as much processed food from your diet plan and focus on fresh, natural foods cooked from scratch.

2) Strength training is a must for long term weight loss as toned and healthy muscle tissue burns fuel (calories) every minute of the day and night. This is what is going to help you lose weight and keep it off for good.

3) Get healthy – Change your mindset from weight loss to building health. You can only lose fat weight when your hormones are balanced, and your body burns off the food you eat efficiently rather than storing it as fat when your metabolism (the body’s engine) has become sluggish. So, work at getting healthier to lose weight, not the other way around.

4) Food journaling – When you write down what you eat you will be able to get a better feel for exactly how much food you need, where the problem areas are in your nutrition which will help you in the long-term. Even a few weeks of writing it down will help you achieve the balance in your eating that you need to learn to be successful.

5) Deal with stress – Many people eat when they are stressed, but you need to learn how to cope with these kinds of triggers that can make you go off track. Your exercise program will help calm and make you feel good so you have a higher tolerance level for stress and you will be able to deal with stressful times easier.

6) Recognize a slip-up and move on – There will be times when you make poor food choices and if you are writing it down you will see how it affects the balance of your food intake. Get back on the wagon and try and make the next meal or the rest of the day better. Life is not about being perfect – it is about looking for improvement and as long as the overall journey is still going forward, that is all the matters.

The journey back to a strong, slim body is a journey made up of hundreds of small steps. Each healthy meal and each workout are one of those steps taking you closer to your goal. The journey is also about the discovery about yourself and will be ongoing throughout your life. But think health and not weight loss and you will be successful.