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Safety margin or natural stability

Plan for a ``safety margin'' of 2 or 3 pounds, measured by the trend, below your original target. If you were aiming for 165 and have no trouble continuing the diet, take the trend line down to 163 or 162 before beginning the transition to stable weight. That way, if you bounce up a little in the process (as frequently happens), you won't wind up above the goal wondering whether you should start dieting again.

You may be lucky and discover a natural goal right near the end of your diet. If you're aiming for 165 pounds and you get to 168 and hit a plateau where the trend line just stays there, day after day, and you seem more bothered by hunger than for a long time, you've probably found a weight you'll have little trouble maintaining; in all likelihood it's one of those points of natural stability. Don't go nuts trying to get past it. In all probability, even if you did, you'd wind up back at the stable point in a few months anyway.

By John Walker