Monday, April 11, 2011

9 Ways to Keep the Weight Off

By Chrissy Wellington M.S., C.N.S., L.D.N., C.P.T


It's time for a "check up" or maybe a "check in" with ourselves. How are your resolution goals going? Weight loss tops the list for New Year's resolutions. Statistics show that most people don't stick with their chosen resolution even after one month. We’ve heard it before; most dieters usually regain the weight they've lost and even add a few more pounds.
The problem is not with losing weight, the difficultly lies with maintaining this new weight loss. Taking the weight off is the easy part. Traditional "diets" do a great job setting boundaries and creating the plan, but most forget to tell us what to do after we have lost the weight, too many of these plans focus on instant gratification and immediate results.  When we finally decide to lose weight we stay committed and we follow the rules with 100 percent accuracy, but once the infamous number on the scale has been reached, most people unfortunately return to the old eating patterns that made them overweight in the first place.

Believe it or not, some people have actually been successful in both weight loss and weight maintenance, so what's their secret? To answer this question, I checked in with the National Weight Loss Registry. This group polls those who have lost an average of 30 pounds and kept it off for at least one year.  The answers are as follows:

  • 78 percent of “successful losers” eat breakfast every day
  • 75 percent weigh themselves at least once a week
  • 62 percent watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
  • 90 percent of “successful losers” exercise minimally one hour per day
To be among this group of “successful losers” you also must:

Become an Avid Label Reader

Continue your weight smarts when you first arrive in the grocery store. Bring your shopping list of healthy foods/recipes for the week, tally your fiber count to 30 grams daily and stay mindful of appropriate serving sizes, and most importantly, do not go hungry.

Stay Consistent

Continue your healthy eating patterns, even on the weekends. Once your weight goal has been achieved most people find it difficult to stay motivated and keep making healthy choices. The occasional indulgence and allowance of a “cheat meal” is acceptable but if occasional turns into daily or “all day on Saturday,” weight re-gain is inevitable.

Stay Balanced

To maintain your new weight, remember to balance your intake of calories with the calories you burn. Just 100 additional calories every day may add up too potentially 10 pounds each year. Commit to one hour of moderate exercise every day, walking even one mile each day can help to stave off those extra 100 calories or 10 pounds.

Keep Track

Continue to log your meal choices and daily activity every day. Consider showing your journal to a friend. This visual accountability really reminds us to keep on track and encourages us to think twice when considering appropriate or inappropriate meal choices. Read through your journal each week and understand which types of foods you are eating, which ones support your energy and mental clarity. Understand your calorie range and ensure that it balances with your calorie output. Also, record what works for you and what doesn't. Review your notes so you can change strategies if needed. According to the National Weight Control Registry, successful losers have estimated that their distribution of macronutrient intake is approximately 56 percent carbohydrates, only about 19 percent from protein and the remaining 25 percent come from healthy fats. Individuals also in the Registry consume approximately 1,300 to 1,800 calories a day.

Remember Thanksgiving is Once a Year

Most people equate the feeling of full with the feeling of being “stuffed.” Many studies on aging actually show that eating until you are 80 percent full can lead to lifelong weight control,  better health, increased energy and may actually add years to your life. When you approach meal time, sit down, take a breath, score yourself from one to 10 on how hungry you are. Begin eating at a three and stop eating when you are a seven. This way the compounds produced during the eating process have an adequate time frame to notify your brain that you are approaching “enough”.

Fill Half Your Plate With Vegetables

Humans are pleasure seeking people who eat with their eyes. We are in love with large portions and continually demand value from our food dollar. For weight maintenance always use smaller plates during meals time. When you eat from a large plate with a small amount of food on it, your eyes send a message that you are not getting enough. When you see a full, smaller plate, your eyes can tell that you will be satisfied; your brain and body can then be at peace and those extra calories will stay off your waistline.

Eliminate Food Chaos

When we eat on the run, in our cars or at our desks, while we are stressed out or in a negative emotional place our digestion becomes compromised and oxidative stress increases within us, this can potentially lead to weight gain. Slow down your meal time, place your fork down between bites and enjoy all of the experiences around you. Create sensuality with food three times a day. When we use all 5 senses to experience our meals we become satisfied from the inside out.

Stay With It

“Successful losers” say that behavior modifications become easier with time. Studies show that those who have successfully maintained their weight loss for a 2-5 year time period have a greater opportunity to experience a lifetime of success. The period of a year seems like a long time, but weight maintenance is about changing your life, so stay patient and take it one day at a time.

Check in With Your Support Team

A study by the National Weight Control Registry confirmed that those who attended regular support group meetings and checked in with friends and family for one year had greater success in maintaining their weight loss. Those who did not regained almost half of the weight that they lost. Support equals accountability. By regularly sharing your journey with others feelings of control excite you into future success.  Remind yourself everyday of how healthy you are now and how great it can be to experience long-term health for the rest of your life.

Remember a lifetime of weight maintenance encourages a diet that does not forbid any one food, and encourages many different types of healthy choices in appropriate sizes. Moderation is key.

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