Research shows losing weight and keeping it off requires changes in lifestyle
Losing weight is difficult, very difficult. No matter what diet program, product or procedure is used to shed excess pounds, people have tremendous resistance to changing their routines and doing something different. I could argue that no matter what the reasons are that people have gained weight, they all share the same reason for having trouble losing it. People hate change.
Eating is a habit, which is one reason it’s so hard to change, but another is that it’s part of a lifestyle. And your lifestyle is shaped by where you live and work, how much money you have, who you spend your time with, and what you know, like, believe. If you want to change what and how much you eat and how often you exercise, it is going to require major changes in your lifestyle.
Knowing what needs to be done to lose weight is rarely the problem. All of my clients are able to tell me what they need to do differently. They say they know they should eat breakfast, take smaller portions, limit their snacks, exercise more, double-up on vegetables and switch to low fat, but they have a hard time sticking to those suggestions. Even just one.
That is because, for example, to eat breakfast every day you have to shop regularly to be sure you have food in the house, get up a little earlier, be able to prepare something you like and is good for you, make your own coffee, and clean up after yourself. Getting up earlier is a big enough hurdle for most people; making sure you have cereal, milk and a banana can be insurmountable!
Why, then, is it possible for some people to change their lifestyle and lose weight? The answers can be found in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).
First a few words about the Registry, my favorite source of inspiration. It is a voluntary group made up of over 5000 people who have lost anywhere from 30 -300 pounds and kept it off for five years or more. That’s all it takes to be a member.
Several common traits have been identified among the NWCR participants to help us understand what has worked for them and might help others. They are listed below.
The one thing you won’t find on the list is what made them do it. Cultural anthropologist Inga Treitler, Ph.D. conducted extensive interviews with ten of the registrants to see if she could figure that out. What she found is they all experienced an inner transformation which resulted in their abandoning their former lifestyles and being “reborn” into a new one. In essence, they found a reason to change that made living in their new lifestyle easier than the old.
It all begins with the right reason.
TOP TEN TRAITS FROM WEIGHT CONTROL REGISTRY45% lost the weight on their own
10. 55% lost the weight with the help of a program
9. 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
8. 74% weigh themselves at least once a week
7. 78% eat breakfast every day
6. 80% are women, 20% are men
5. 90% exercise an average of 1 hour a day
4. 94% increased their physical activity, walking was the most common activity
2. 98% modified their food intake in some way, most by controlling calories and fat
1. 100% found a reason to change their lifestyle
Here’s what has helped me keep my weight in control for the past 40 years.
Getting Motivated to Eat Right