No “Diets” Allowed: How to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Guest post by Colleen from The Lunchbox Diaries

Over at my blog, The Lunchbox Diaries, I talk about my favorite foods, my favorite cocktails, and my favorite exercises – but I usually skirt around addressing my weight, mainly because it’s never really been an issue for me.

Recently I had a reader contact me about providing tips on how to maintain her diet, and ultimately her goal weight once it was reached. At first, I was hesitant to reply for two reasons: I’m not a professional and I’ve never had to lose weight. 

That said, I do hang out in a profession where I study how thoughts and behaviors play into weight loss/gain, and although I’ve never had to lose weight, it’s because of conscious choices that I make.

That said, I compiled some tips that have helped me maintain a healthy weight. She said they were helpful, so I thought I’d share them with you as well!

1. Eat throughout the day.

I eat a calorie-heavy breakfast every morning – a big bowl of oatmeal topped with 1.5 T of peanut butter (and sometimes jelly), 1/2 a banana and a small handful of cereal for a little crunch.

I eat small meals throughout the day to avoid feeling starved. When I’m absolutely ravenous, I turn into a raging you know what and I stuff my face. Not a good combo. My favorite go-to mini meal is a serving of Chobani Greek yogurt with Love Grown granola mixed in.

2. Don’t Marry the Cardio Machines, but Don’t Divorce Them Either

I used to believe that 45 minutes on the elliptical was the be-all-end-all. And you know what? I never saw a change in my body until I added weights to my regimen. My normal routine is 35 – 45 minutes of cardio on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and strength workouts on Tuesday and Thursday. The weekends I leave open for hiking, kayaking or simply taking the dog on a long walk.

3. Have a cheat MEAL not a cheat DAY

 I can’t give up Mexican food forever, you know what I mean? So if that’s my cheat meal, I eat what I want and don’t worry about it. But having a whole DAY of cheats can easily undo a lot of the hard work that I put in earlier in the week.

It's a concern how excited I get about my favorite Mexican restaurant...

When I have a cheat meal at a Mexican restaurant, I order two soft chicken tacos and enjoy every bite. I also eat my fair share of chips and salsa before the tacos arrive. That night I usually enjoy a lighter dinner like fish and veggies.

4. Alcohol has Calories

A friend once told me that beer didn’t aid in her 15-pound weight gain. Sorry honey, yes it did. I drink socially, but not every weekend. I’m also a huge fan of “skinny” cocktails, which helps me feel less bloated when I do decide to drink.

My favorite cocktail: Vodka + Zero Vitamin Water, lemonade + a splash of Sprite Zero + a splash of cran. So delish.

I also make smart food choices during the day if I know I’m going to be drinking that night. That said, I try not “drink my calories” on a normal day. I don’t actually count calories, but I stick to water, skim milk and coffee (with skim and truvia).

5. Find a buddy to hold you accountable

Someone who’ll be straight forward with you and give you hell if you skip the gym. My BFF and the blogging community do that for me. If I feel like I might not make it to the gym, I tell someone that I am going to the gym that afternoon because then I know I’ll feel like a lazy slob if I don’t.

My husband and I after our first mud run!

6. Avoid the “health halo”

 I fall privy to this from time to time. An example of the health halo effect would be running a quick three miles in the morning and then eating a huge dessert after dinner with the justification of “Oh, it’s no big deal. I worked out today.” This usually happens to me when I’m with my girlfriends! I’ll workout before seeing them, and then use that as my justification for pizza, frozen yogurt and wine in one day. Oops!

It’s really pretty easy if you break it down into smaller steps, don’t you think? Again, I am not a professional. These are simply strategies that I personally use to maintain my healthy weight.

Read more from The Lunchbox Diaries 

What tips do you have for weight maintenance? I know we all have a few tricks up our sleeves! Share them below.

Feature photo courtesy of nixxphotography via


  1. Hey Colleen!!! <3 I think a cheat meal is a muuuuch better idea than a cheat day!!!! I always tried not to frown at clients when they discussed their diets and how they have cheat days, even though I've never agreed with them — This is a perfect thing to suggest instead!!! =) Love your positive approach! xoxo

    • Hey Jenn!! I figured out the “cheat meal” idea through trial and error. I’d have cheat DAYS and then I’d feel like crap! One meal or one dessert doesn’t make or break anything – and you can still enjoy something you love! xox

  2. Colleen, firstly may I say that you have a GORGEOUS smile – radiant and so reflective of the sheer joy you live your life with!

    Secondly, amen sista! Living a healthy lifestyle is just that – a lifestyle that is chosen day to day with balance. It’s not a rigid diet or workout program more than it is simply choosing healthier foods and choosing to get into our bodies and move more often – because at the end of the day we feel better when we do.

    And of course, when we feel good, we can live with more joy!

    • Sabrina, you are too kind!! Thank you for your kind words! I agree with you – living a healthy life is simple: eat well and move often! Sure, I have days when I DON’T eat as well as I should, or move less than I’d like – but that’s the ebb and flow of it all, right? Overall, I feel good because I treat my body well! And yes, I can then live with more joy! 🙂 All the best to you, love! xo

  3. I’m trying to gain a few in a healthy way so I’m not the one for diet tips, mainly I’d just say don’t call it “cheating” when you want to eat less than optimally healthful foods, i don’t think foods should be demonized… I’d just call it having moderation in all things:)

  4. Colleen, great article on making healthy choices. Sometimes it is hard, the halo effect has been a big part of my life! I love that you start off with a hearty healthy breakfast with protein and complex carbs for long lasting energy and a metabolism boost. I appreciate the great tips and reminders, thanks so much for your insights. Jana

  5. You’re so welcome, Jana! Thanks for reading and commenting! I’ve found that eating a big breakfast makes such a huge difference. I used to eat a “serving” of cereal, which is usually 3/4 cup, and I’d be famished by 10:00. Then I’d overeat the rest of the day. My jam-packed oats keep me full for HOURS!

  6. I am a firm believer in starting the day with a healthy filling meal, usually with a protein. It fuels my work out and ties me over until lunch. I find I am not as hungry throughout the day if I start my day with a power breakfast. Tracy


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