Many people struggle to maintain weight loss. There are a lot of quick fixes out there including 30 day challenges, 4 week boot camps and 6 week total transformations. While these programs can be challenging and can possibly help kick start your goals, any program with a short timeline may not do much for your long term goal. Research shows that 95% of dieters regain lost weight within one to five years, with up to two-thirds of dieters gaining more weight than they lost dieting.(1) So, what’s the secret to this other 5%?
Lifestyle vs. Quick Fix
The maintenance phase of any weight loss program is the tricky part. You can get pretty involved in a short term program or goal but if you don’t make it a habit and continue it long term, you can wind up as one of the 95%. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance and has tracked more than 10,000 people over the last 23 years who’ve been successful in maintaining long-term weight loss. You may find it interesting to know a little about the people who have enrolled in the registry.
- Weight losses have ranged from 30 to 300 lbs
- Duration of successful weight loss has ranged from 1 year to 66 years
- Some have lost the weight rapidly, while others have lost weight very slowly–over as many as 14 years (2)
5 Strategies for Losing Weight
Here are some long term strategies to help you reach and maintain your goals.
- Don’t diet: It’s more about lifestyle change. When you diet, plans tend to be rigid and need to be followed so closely that it may set you up to fail. Incorporating healthy lifestyle changes means that you adapt to your situations and needs without having to make so many strict changes. Some changes can include eating vegetables at every meal or eating smaller portions.
- Move it: It is important to get in 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity and even more ( 50 minutes) when trying to maintain weight loss. (3) A couple of things to remember to make it a little easier is that you don’t have to get the entire 50 minutes in at one time and these 50 minutes can include doing your everyday activity such as walking stairs at work and to your car in the parking lot.
- Build it: Resistance training helps build and preserve muscle mass, which is typically lost with age and calorically restricted diets. Muscle is expensive tissue—it costs the body a lot of calories to maintain. Thus, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn through the day, even while at rest. (1)
- Track it: Changing a behavior is hard to do when you don’t realize or pay attention to these habits. If you take a closer look at what and when you are eating throughout out the day or how much activity you are doing, you may be surprised. By tracking your habits, you may be able to make positive changes. For example, you may realize that you ate even after you were full or you haven’t walked through your neighborhood for several days.
- Support it: Seek and spend time with family and friends who support your lifestyle changes and even better, follow a healthy lifestyle as well. Surrounding yourself with those that care makes it easier to take care of you.
Back to those NWCR participants: (2)
- 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight
- 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking
- 78% eat breakfast every day
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day
What’s the secret to weight loss?
It’s really no secret, just multiple long term healthy lifestyle changes. By realizing that there is no short term or quick fix, you can set yourself up for a lifetime of change. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks, use them as a time for learning and growing. Guidance from a health professional, such as personal trainer or registered dietitian makes a big difference. Contact us so we can start the conversation about your healthy lifestyle.
- “7 Keys to Long-term Weight-loss Maintenance”. Accessed 1, May 2017. Acefitness.org. https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/6388/7-keys-to-long-term-weight-loss-maintenance
- “The National Weight Control Registry”. Accessed 4, May 2017. nwcr.ws. http://nwcr.ws/Research/default.htm
- “ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quality and Quantity of Exercise”. Accessed 4, May 2017. ACSM.org. http://acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise