I did a blog post on this topic a few years back, but it is worth repeating the lessons learned from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). This registry is the largest study of individuals who have maintained their weight loss. As a dietitian who has helped people lose weight, I can tell you that despite the difficulties with losing weight, it is ten times harder to prevent yourself from gaining the weight back. That is why it is so important to learn from the participants in this registry and discover what their strategies, or best practices, are regarding successful weight loss maintenance.
There are over 10,000 people in the NWCR and they have maintained an average weight loss of 66 pounds for more that 5 years. These are significant numbers and serve as a source of inspiration. Here’s what they have in common regarding their eating and exercise habits:
- All lost weight with a combination of diet and exercise, but many different types of diets were used
- They stick to a low-fat, restricted-calorie diet
- Self-monitoring is used, such as weekly weighing and recording food intake and activity
- Many eat breakfast everyday
- They engage in 60 minutes of physical activity everyday with walking as the most frequent activity reported
That last one is a tough one. It can be difficult to fit in an hour of exercise everyday, but it is a proven method that works to prevent the pounds from creeping back up. Basically, the results show us that you cannot maintain your weight loss by just restricting calories; daily exercise needs to become part of your new, lean lifestyle.
The good news about exercise is that studies show it can be broken-up into “chunks”, so it is not all or nothing. If you do not have time to exercise for a solid hour, you can do 20 minutes, three times a day. Also, the more you exercise the easier it becomes as you begin to enjoy the benefits of sleeping better at night and having more energy during the day. Keep in mind that greater than half of these “big maintainers” watch less than 10 hours of TV per week, so they are leading an active lifestyle. That is really the key – staying active like the successful participants of the NWCR.
Click on this link to learn more about the NWCR and to read some inspiring weight loss stories. Click on the title of this post and scroll down to leave a comment – do you have any best practices regarding weight loss and weight loss maintenance to share?