It’s warm and time to hit the pools, beaches, lakes and other outdoor adventures. How’s your weight loss plan holding up from January? Have you lost weight and maintained it or have you yo-yoed back to your previous body weight?
Many people struggle with maintaining weight loss. Even fitness trainers! There’s a lot of fad diets and six-week boot camps that will help you drop the pounds, but keeping those pounds off is the ultimate challenge. Research shows that 95% of dieters regain lost weight within one to five years. And up to two-thirds of those dieters gain more weight than they lost when dieting (Mann, et al., 2007). But wait! Please keep reading! Researchers have found some strategies that can help to increase our chances of successfully maintaining a healthy weight.
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) has tracked more than 10,000 people over the last 23 years who’ve been successful in maintaining long-term weight loss. Here’s some long-term strategies from these successful weight loss participants that have helped them keep their weight off over time.
Get rid of the diets. Diets don’t work. And some diets can even be harmful in long-term weight loss maintenance. Instead, focus on lifestyle changes like eating vegetables with every meal or snack, pairing up carbohydrate eating with protein and fat to help manage blood sugar levels and practice mindful eating (slow down, taste your food and give it your full attention).
Get moving. Most of these successful weight loss participants exercised an average of one hour a day. Also, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous or extreme. Walking was the most commonly reported exercise that they did.
Get strong. Strength training helps build and preserve muscle mass which is usually lost with age and calorie restricted diets. Think of muscle as expensive tissue. The body requires a lot of calories to maintain the muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day. Try to strengthen all major muscle groups two to three days each week.
Get to know yourself. We should monitor our eating and exercise behaviors to be able to know what we need to change. We need to know what, when and why we are eating and exercising. Food and activity logs can be helpful tools when self-monitoring. A food log could include what you ate, how much you ate, where you were, what you were thinking or feeling before you ate, how much time it took you to eat, what you were doing while eating, and your level of fullness after eating. Get to know the reason why you want to lose weight and write it down to help you stick with the healthy behaviors long term.
Get support. Social support is needed for long-term behavior change. With supportive friends and family, healthy living can be fun. Get together with like-minded groups of people in exercise classes and eating circles.
Here’s to your successful, long term, healthy weight management.
Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the June 8, 2017 edition of the Seaford Star.