Steps To Maintain Your Weight Loss
If you have ever successfully lost weight then you probably know that losing the weight is only half the battle. The other half, and perhaps the even more difficult task is maintaining this weight loss.
I have had people tell me things like “I have lost and gained over 500 pounds in the course of my life”, or “Losing the weight is easy, it’s keeping it off that is so hard”.
Why is it so tough then to maintain the weight loss once we have worked so hard to lose it? Often I think we are just too eager to return to our old habits.
Weight loss can be maintained though and there are people who have been victorious on both battlefronts: losing the weight and maintaining it.
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is a group of individuals who on the average have maintained over a sixty-pound weight loss for five and a half years.
So what is their secret here you may ask. The NWCR participants self-report and here is what they say are their key behavior strategies for weight loss maintenance.
- Consumption of a low-calorie, low-fat diet. Their average reported intake is about 1381 calories a day with daily fat intake between 25-30% of the total calories or 38-46 grams of fat a day. Remember that when you lose weight, your daily calorie needs decrease so you can’t eat much as you did before. One study suggests that for each pound of body weight lost, you use between 6-8 fewer calories each day. So if you lost fifty pounds for example, you would need to consume about 400 fewer calories a day to maintain your weight than you did before losing the weight. (Visit our online calorie calculator.)
- Frequent weight monitoring. Some NWCR participants weigh themselves daily and others weekly, the key though is to do it frequently. Regularly checking body weight is a form of both self-monitoring and accountability. Furthermore, these folks respond quickly to even a small weight gain by either reducing their intake or increasing activity or both.
- Eat breakfast daily. Seventy-eight percent of those on the NWCR report eating breakfast everyday. Breakfast can suppress morning hunger and elevate basal metabolic rate. Furthermore, breakfast provides a great opportunity to get more fiber in your diet. Breakfast continues to be promoted by obesity researchers as an important tool in weight management.
- Limit TV viewing. More than half of the NWCR participants report watching fewer than 10 hours a week of television. And a third of them report watching TV even less than five hours a week. In comparison, the average American adult watches twenty-eight hours of TV a week. WOW! These successful weight maintainers have really decreased the amount of time they are sedentary leading again to more successful weight management. It is my personal opinion too that while watching TV, people see way to many tempting foods advertised which in turn leads to increased food intake.
- Physical Activity. This is perhaps the most important element of successful weight management. While the physical activity recommendation for healthy adults seeking disease prevention is thirty minutes a day most days of the week, the NWCR members are getting much more. Most average 60-90 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise and are burning an average of 2621 calories a week with this activity (that is about 375 calories a day if you exercise everyday). In addition to decreasing the risk for several diseases and improving an individual’s mental outlook, exercise can build muscle mass and elevate metabolic rate. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association all support the recommendation for 60-90 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity for those who have lost large amounts of weight.
Other reported strategies include keeping food logs, infrequent restaurant and fast food dining and eating a consistent diet from day to day, which includes eating several times a day.
The bottom line is that weight loss can be maintained, but it does require a continuous and diligent commitment to healthier eating, regular physical activity and self-monitoring.