Best Practices From The National Weight Control Registry

Barbell and Measuring Tape

Keeping-it Off and Preventing Further Weight Gain are the Keys to Weight Maintenance

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?

 


Introducing: Weight Loss Wednesdays and the Real Biggest Losers

Keeping-it Off and Preventing Further Weight Gain are the Keys to Weight Maintenance

Growing up as a teenager on Long Island, I remember my favorite radio station, a classic rock station, would call Wednesdays “over the hump day”.  The idea being that once you get over the “hump” of Wednesday, the week is almost over and you are that much closer to Friday.  The station would play special blocks of classic rock on that day to help people make it over the “hump”.  Well, in keeping with the notion of doing something special on Wednesdays, I am starting “Weight Loss Wednesdays”.  I’m sure this will be trending on Twitter soon and go viral within a few days (note to self: look into trademarking my new phrase).

So, here’s my plan: I am going to post about different weight loss topics on Wednesdays.  This is kind of like Meatless Mondays, but there is no cooking involved, all you have to do is read.  If you don’t know what Meatless Monday is, click this link to see my earlier post on Meatless Mondays.

My first topic includes information that has been collected by 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 how hard it can be, it is ten times harder to prevent yourself from gaining it all back.  That is why it is so important to learn from this registry of people who have had such phenomenal success with maintaining their weight loss.  Forget the reality show – these are the true “biggest losers”.

There are over 10,000 people in the NWCR and they have maintained a weight loss of 66 pounds for more than 5 years, on average.  These are significant numbers and serve as a source of inspiration.  Here’s what they have in common regarding their weight maintenance habits:

  1. All lost weight with a combination of diet and exercise, but many different types of diets were used
  2. They stick to a low-fat diet and keep an eye on total calories
  3. Self-monitoring is used, such as weighing themselves and recording food intake and activity
  4. Breakfast is eaten almost daily
  5. They engage in 60 minutes of physical activity daily – yes, everyday

That last one is the kicker.  You may have been thinking, “I can do that”, about numbers one thru four, but number five can often be the biggest hurdle – fitting an hour of exercise in everyday.  Basically, the NWCR results are telling 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 is, studies show that exercise can be broken up into “chunks”, so it is not all or nothing.  If you do not have the time to exercise for a solid hour, you can do 20 minutes, three times a day, for example.  Also good to know is, the more you exercise, the easier it is to do each day 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 losers” watch less than 10 hours of TV per week, so they are not sitting on the couch.  The key is, for weight loss to be maintained, you have to keep at it and keep active, just like the the “big losers” of the NWCR.  Wow, that sounds like it could be a new TV show, note to self……

Click on this link to learn more about the National Weight Control Registry and to read some inspiring weight loss success stories.

***Do you think you can adopt some of the healthy habits of the “biggest losers”?  Which ones?  More importantly, does anyone else out there like classic rock?  Click on the title of this post and scroll down to leave a comment.***