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4 Secrets To Maintain Your Weight Loss
Don't Listen To "Losers"...
Listen To "Maintainers!"

By Tom Venuto, NCSA-CPT, CSCS

I have very little interest these days in all the media-hyped stories of dramatic, rapid losses of body weight. That doesn’t impress me, for numerous reasons. For example, weight is not fat. “weight” could be composed of mostly lean tissue, or it could be mostly water weight. In fact, I would even go a step further and point out that rapid loss of bodyweight correlates very highly with a greater chance of relapse, weight re-gain and long term failure.

So what does impress me? What gets my attention?…

I pay attention to what the “long term maintainers” have to say - those are the people who have maintained an ideal weight for over a year… preferably even 2-5 years or more.

Mike Ogorek is a successful maintainer, having lost
137 pounds and kept it off now for nearly 2 years

The difference between losers and maintainers

As I was researching this subject of long term maintenance recently, I was surprised at the huge amount of research that’s already been done in this area.

One paper that caught my interest was published by Judy Kruger and colleauges in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, titled,

“Dietary and physical activity behaviors among adults successful at weight Loss maintenance.”

This was not an experimental study, but a compilation of data from the “Styles survey” which was representative of the US population and asked respondents questions about strategies to aid with maintaining an ideal weight.

In this particular survey, only one-third (30.96%) or the respondents said they were successful at keeping their weight off. The researchers wanted to know the difference between the small group that was successful and the majority that were not.

There were a lot of similarities among maintainers and non maintainers:

Both groups reduced the amount of food they consumed, they ate smaller portions, more fruits and vegetables, fewer fatty foods and fewer sweetened beverages.

Not really any surprises there, but what we want to know most is not what losers and maintainers have in common, but what the maintainers did that the losers didn’t.

four major differences emerged:

A significantly higher proportion of successful maintainers reported exercising 30 minutes or more daily, and they also reported adding other physical activity (recreation, sports, physical work, etc) to their daily schedules.

Lifting weights was also a distinguishing factor between groups as substantially more successful maintainers included weight training in their exercise regimens than did the losers.

“Reducing sedentary activities” was also a significant difference between those who successfully maintained and those who did not (less TV watching, etc).

Many things are hotly debated among obesity and exercise science researchers today, but just about everyone agrees that exercise is critical for long term maintenance.

The next big difference that separated the successful maintainers from the unsuccessful was in their “self-monitoring behaviors” including:

  • tracking calories
  • tracking body weight
  • planning meals
  • tracking fat
  • measuring amount of food on plate

Similar results have been found by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), another group of successful maintainers.

Unfortunately, these types of self monitoring behaviors, especially weighing and measuring food, planning meals on paper and counting calories, are among the most avoided or even criticized techniques. Some “experts” even claim that it’s unnecessary to count calories, track results, weigh yourself or measure and weigh your food.

However, these self monitoring behaviors are being identified more and more frequently as part of “the difference that makes the difference.” I agree, as they have always played a major role in my own Burn The Fat program

A fourth and final difference was that people who reported self-perceived “barriers” to their success were 48-76% less likely to be a successful maintainer.

For example, they said they had no time to exercise, they were too tired to exercise or it was too hard to maintain an exercise routine. (I interpret this as: unsuccessful maintainers were excuse makers!)

Based on these findings (and the previous research confirmed by these findings), here are…


1. Increase activity, including formal exercise as well as sports, physical work or recreational activity.

2. Include weight training as part of your formal exercise program

3. Track and monitor everything - count and track calories and nutrients, measure your food portion sizes, plan your meals and menus in writing and monitor your body weight.

4. Avoid excuses and maintain positive beliefs and attitudes towards your environment and what you perceive as “barriers” (for example, “I can always make time for what is most important to me” versus, “I don’t have time to exercise,” etc.)

If you’re currently engaged in the fat loss journey, and you want to know how good your odds are for being a successful maintainer, it’s pretty easy to predict using these simple guidelines.

If you’re not using all 4 of these strategies yet, then when today would be a good time to start?

There are limitations to survey results such as these, including the fact that they are cross sectional, and therefore cannot prove causality.

However, I believe these findings are important and significant.

Not only do they match previous similar studies and agree with the findings of the NWCR, I found that these results match precisely what I’ve seen among my most successful “Burn The Fat” clients.

THIS is the type of advice I’d suggest you listen to the most: Advice about how to lose bodyFAT (not bodyWEIGHT) and how to maintain an ideal bodyweight and body composition over the long haul, not how to lose it as fast as possible.

In closing, I’d urge you to consider the words of EM Gray, who in “The Common Denominator Of Success” wrote:

“The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do what the unsuccessful people are not.”

Train hard and expect success,

Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
Fat Loss Coach

About Fitness Coach, Tom Venuto

Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer, certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book in Internet history, "Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle.” Tom has written hundreds of articles and been featured in IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development and Men’s Exercise. To get more information about Tom's e-book about natural fat loss, visit the home page at: www.BurnTheFat.com


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