The Lighten Up East Texas challenge is coming to a close, and with it will come new stories of successful weight loss. Weight loss challenges can be exciting and the public ones certainly push participants to give it their all.

Once you got used to healthy eating and exercising, those habits snowball. When you finally started seeing results, those results inspired you to do more.

Then comes the perplexing situation of when there's no more weight to lose. So, what's next? How will you stay motivated to chase another goal?

Losing the weight is actually easier than maintaining it. I've seen this play out with many people who struggle to stay fit and I've experienced it myself.

I'm in that group of people who it takes dang near an around-the-clock boot camp and very calculated eating to drop — hello — one pound.

But just one calorie-dense morsel turns into a new blob of fat on the thighs in the same week.

When people like us lose weight, it's time to celebrate. But don't party for too long.

For us, the real work begins when the goals have been met. We can't rest on our laurels.

Everything you did to lose the weight, you have to continue — forever. Maybe you can up your caloric intake, but the same type of food and exercise should be a permanent fixture.

Food journaling, especially for those who had a tough time with eating properly, should continue after the goals are met.

Planning meals, eating more at home and exercising regularly are still a part of a daily regimen, post-weight loss.

Most importantly, set new goals because health and fitness isn't only about weight. Always concentrate on areas that need a fine-tuning, such as being released from medications, improving flexibility, toning your new body and revving up endurance.

Maybe you'd like to get in good enough shape to run a marathon or enter a weight-lifting contest. Hiking, learning to swim or entering an obstacle course race are other ways to put your new self to use.

Consistency is the key, and giving up is not an option.


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