Maintaining a healthy weight is important for; you guessed it, your health. Many people will pursue the latest diet fads or workouts to achieve a certain look, but in the end, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will provide much greater long-term effects than just hitting a certain number on the scale.

Use Apps

Numbers, of course, shouldn’t be entirely discounted. However, a healthy weight for you may depend on a number of factors, like your height, age, bone mass, and muscle mass. The best way to determine this is to visit a health professional.

Once you know what your weight goal is and how many calories you’ll need every day to reach that weight, get an app to help track those calories, and your exercise. Some studies have shown that people who track calories are more successful at achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Some popular apps include:

Many apps have large databases of foods so you can specify what you’ve eaten, even down to the restaurant. Some can scan barcodes, or have challenges you can join to stay accountable.

Get a good variety of foods

Maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t mean you have to break out the celery sticks. It’s important to have a good variety of food, including proteins, carbohydrates, and even fats. While certain foods come to mind when you think of nutrients like proteins, you’ll be amazed at all the places you can find them.

Protein-rich foods include avocados, nuts, grapefruit, cocoa powder, beans, Portobello mushrooms, oatmeal, eggs, halibut, and more! Eating protein before bed can also cure cravings. Make sure to round out your diet, there are a lot of healthy options out there!

While we hear a lot about protein, don’t forget the veggies and whole grains. 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends 50% of your meals should consist of fruits and vegetables, with 25% healthy protein and 25% whole grains.

Be careful of empty calories

3500 calories equate to about one pound, whether you are trying to gain it or lose it. If you are only allotted a certain number of calories, make sure to eat calories that benefit you too! Eating a bag of chips may feel better than making a well-balanced meal at the moment, but your body will respond better to receiving all the nutrients it needs.

Also be aware that not all calories are created equally. 100 calories of turkey can get you 18 grams of protein, vs. 100 calories of potato chips, which is not only half the amount but less than 2 grams of protein. Plus, our bodies process them each differently. The empty calories in a piece of candy can cause blood sugar spikes and sugar crashes, while foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids or magnesium can help prevent fatigue.

Stay Motivated!

Health and weight goals are a great thing to be working towards, but sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated. Identify your purpose and set small goals each day that you can celebrate. Don’t get discouraged, or beat yourself up if you slip up from time to time. Maintaining a healthy weight requires sticking to some rules, but in the end, it’s not about legalism, it’s about living your best life and treating your body right.

And of course, always consult with your doctor before beginning any weight loss plan or implementing dietary changes. He or she can help you identify the course of action that is most appropriate for you, and also help you monitor changes as time goes on.