Newswise — Many of us are looking ahead to the holiday season and new year with lofty goals for losing weight and exercising. But how can you avoid repeating the cycle year after year?

Endocrine Society experts examined that issue in a Scientific Statement on the causes of obesity and challenges of maintaining long-term weight loss. Michael W. Schwartz, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash., and the chair of the task force that authored the statement, can share some tips on adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Schwartz can discuss:

  • The importance of setting realistic goals – Losing about 5 percent of your body weight is sustainable for many people.
  • Looking beyond the number on the scale – Even when you only drop a few pounds, healthier habits can lower your risk of developing conditions like diabetes.
  • Recognizing progress – When you lose a few pounds or even just maintain your current weight, you’ve already interrupted the perpetual loop of gradual weight gain.

“Because of the body’s energy balance adjustments, most individuals who successfully lose weight struggle to maintain weight loss over time,” Schwartz said. “To effectively treat obesity, we need to better understand the mechanisms that cause this phenomenon, and to devise interventions that specifically address them.”