Maintaining a healthy weight is often easier said than done.

If you’re in the habit of eating healthy and get regular exercise, you’ve won half the battle.

But there are so many temptations — like fast food, trendy, sugary drinks and binge-streaming television shows — that can derail our healthy intentions.

It’s common to see the scale start to tip in the wrong direction. But it doesn’t diminish the importance of a healthy weight when it comes to quality of life and longevity.

“Excess weight can do more damage than we realize,” said Maria Ariza, MD, a family medicine physician with Endeavor Health Medical Group. “It puts pressure on our joints, it can cause sleep problems, it can increase our risk of disease like diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer.”

Being overweight or obese as a child also has serious consequences, as it sets a child up to have a higher risk of disease as an adult.

Physicians generally define overweight or obesity as a person whose weight is higher than a healthy range for their height. This is often determined by calculating someone’s body mass index (BMI). The BMI isn’t always an indication that someone is overweight or obese, but it’s a screening tool that doctors may use as part of an evaluation.

The most important thing to remember is to always talk it over with your doctor before trying to lose or gain weight.

“Maintaining a healthy weight relies on good consistent habits,” Dr. Ariza said. “If you aren’t at a healthy weight, introducing new, healthy habits can make a difference.”

Try to make these habits part of your daily routine:

  • Limit portion size to control calorie intake. Check recipes and packages to determine what one serving of a given food or meal would be, then portion it out. When dining out, where portion sizes are notoriously huge, immediately put half the entrée in a to-go box and bring it home.
  • Stay physically active. For some, this means taking up jogging or joining a basketball league. For others, this means penciling in a daily or every-other-day 30-minute walk. Either way, being active in any way beats being sedentary.
  • Try swapping high-calorie foods for healthier alternatives. Cook at home! Fill up on vegetables, fruit and whole grains instead of processed or fast food. Choose low-fat dairy and lean meat. Avoid added sugar as much as possible.
  • Stay hydrated with water. Adults should try to drink 2 liters of water each day. Avoid drinks with added sugar and limit alcohol.

Establishing a routine of healthy habits makes it easier to keep your weight in a healthy range.

Maria Ariza, MD, is a family medicine physician with Endeavor Health Medical Group. View her profile and schedule an appointment online.