Losing weight is easy—at least compared to keeping it off. After all, when your pant size stops shrinking and the compliments becoming few and far between, just one more cookie may not seem like such a big deal. Luckily, a new American Journal of Preventive Medicine study pinpoints the four main lifestyle behaviors that cause former weight-loss winners to put the pounds back on.
For the study, researchers from The Miriam Hospital followed 3,000 people—all of whom had lost at least 30 pounds—for 10 years. At the end of the study, nine out of 10 of the participants had kept off at least 10 percent of the weight. The more weight they had gained back, however, they more likely they were to share some key habits:
Avoiding the Scale
It’s no secret that we aren’t fans of judging health on pounds alone. But if you don’t keep tabs on how your body is changing (and it always is!), it’s easy for weight creep to get out of control before you even realize it’s happening. So try stepping on the scale, slipping on your skinny jeans, running a measuring tape around your waist, or even browsing through your selfies from time to time. (It worked for this photographer!) It’ll help you spot weight gain in its early stages, when it’s easier to combat.
Between epic portion sizes at restaurants and emotional eating, every woman has gotten more than her fill at one point or another. Once you’ve lost some weight, it’s easy to feel like a splurge is in order. But with many “meals” containing more than your recommended daily intake of calories, too many splurges can add up quickly.
Skipping the Gym
Your body is always doing one of two things: gaining muscle or losing it. So hitting your weight-loss goal is no excuse to forgo your fitness routine. Plus, exercising on the regular can help regulate your hormones, which can make it easier to resist that bingeing we talked about.
Consuming Too Much Fat
While we have a veritable love affair going with avocados, saturated and trans fats can torpedo your slim-down successes. Learn the difference between good and bad fat; figuring out how to strike a balance between the two could be the key to maintaining your weight loss.
*This story was originally published on WomensHealth.com.