Losing weight and keeping it off is not an easy feat. By some estimates, 20 percent of overweight individuals are successful in keeping off at least 10 percent of their initial body weight for a year or longer. What is their secret? Thanks to initiatives like the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), we have some insight.
The NWCR identifies and investigates the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. Here are a few key behaviors reported that led to ongoing success:
- Participants consume a low calorie (1,300 to 1,700 per day), low fat diet. They also successfully lose weight and maintain the loss by not starting and stopping a diet, like many dieters are accustomed to doing.
- Participants eat four to five small meals daily. Their food intake is also consistent day to day. Consistent food choices encourages self-control, minimizes unplanned food temptations, and fosters self-discipline and increases your ability to keep with the diet routine.
- They consistently eat breakfast. Including this meal in the daily routine suppresses midmorning hunger and promotes better glucose control. It also reduces excessive eating later in the day.
- They make physical activity mandatory. The average person in the NWCR database exercises for about 60 to 90 minutes per day at a moderate intensity. Daily physical activity is important for both weight management and health improvement. Finding a sustainable activity that fits your lifestyle, and making it a priority, is essential for long-term success.
- Participants weigh themselves frequently. This provides a form of accountability and self-monitoring.
- They limited TV viewing to less than 10 hours per week. Research has connected successful weight loss over an extended period with minimal amounts of time spent watching TV. The national average time for watching TV is 28 hours per week or four hours per day. This is too much sedentary time.
- They take corrective action when weight is regained. Participants did not allow even a small amount of weight gain to occur without corrective action. Obesity research shows that preventing people from regaining weight is one of the most difficult dilemmas that dieters face.
Health improvement that results from weight loss and maintenance is a commendable goal that is worth the effort required to accomplish it.