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Successful Losers

Does your diet take and keep weight off?

Most diets don’t work in keeping the weight off according to researchers at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. An analysis of some of the more popular diets including Atkins and The Zone show they failed for the majority of dieters in the long run. In this blog we will lay out the principles of what has scientifically proved to work at losing weight and keeping it off.

Why do most people gain the weight back?

Simply put, people regain their original weight (and more) when they stop doing what made them successful in the first place. Research shows that people who regained more than five pounds reported exercising less, eating more fatty foods and allowing themselves to overeat more frequently. This explains why “fad” diets and programs may help lose weight quickly but eventually it is gained back. Most people are unable to maintain the drastic changes most fad diets require. Fad diets do work at losing weight, but they only work on a short term basis. Keeping the weight off requires the real challenge of making proper lifestyle and behavior changes.

Successful losers keep the weight off.

Annually, over 60 percent of Americans actively try to lose weight.  Is there any wonder we are bombarded with diet books and late night infomercial weight loss gadgets? Some “new and improved” system is readily available to take our money. Although many people do succeed at losing weight, few manage to keep the weight off for an extended time. Research studies of these “successful losers” reveal the keys to permanent weight loss.

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is the largest ongoing study on long-term weight loss. The NWCR was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. To be included in the study, you must have lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for at least one year. On average, the 5,000 participants have lost 66 pounds and maintained the weight loss for five and a half years. Consider the following findings from the NWCR:

  •        98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
  •        94% increased their physical activity.
  •        78% eat breakfast every day.
  •        75% weigh them self at least once a week.
  •        62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
  •        90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

And consider the following if you think you are an exception and are destined to be overweight. The majority have an obese parent and were obese as children. The range of weight loss is 30 to 300 pounds, so your weight loss goal is very possible.

Keys to permanent weight loss:

Most of the successful losers had low calorie/low fat balanced diets (3 or more servings vegetables, 2 or more fruit, 3 or more servings whole grains) and plenty of water as a beverage. So much for the low carb diets that make up many weight loss programs. Other research along with the findings of the NWCR identified  these behaviors of sustained weight loss.

  • Eat breakfast daily
  • Exercise approximately 60 minutes a day
  • Check weight at least once a week and log your progress
  • Measure your food and track fat and calories consumed
  • Watch less TV and cut out late night binging
  • Maintain a consistent diet on weekends and weekdays
  • Plan meals on most days of the week
  • To stay accountable find social support. Whether it’s a friend, coach, or health professional, it’s important to have someone who will listen and give feedback.

Why do these principles work and how can they work for YOU?

Weight loss can be achieved in many different ways as long as you consistently burn more calories than you consume.  The principles presented above are all ways to more easily and comfortably accomplish this. 

Checking your weight regularly helps you stay in tune with your body and allows you to adjust your intake or activity if your weight goes up. Limiting TV time will not only keep you from becoming a couch potato but will also keep you from mindlessly snacking. Planning your meals and eating consistently each day of the week, including weekends, helps prevent you from eating more than you need, which over time leads to weight gain. Finally, tracking what you eat keeps you aware of what and how much you eat. This is especially important in weight control since most of us underestimate how much we actually consume.

To achieve and sustain results, follow the examples of successful losers who selected behaviors they could maintain for life.  Keep in mind that you can start by making small changes. Exercise does not need to be painful or that intense to lose weight. Walking was the favored exercise for most. Find what works for you now and for the long term and  become a successful loser. 

Our next post will discuss one of the most important steps to success. Setting goals and being SMART about it is also the first step required for success. Stay tuned!