Greetings my MAD COOL FITNESS CREW and Happy Monday! So we as a society talk a lot about weight loss. It’s everywhere in the media. “Lose weight fast”, “Lose 5 pounds your first week”, “Lose as much as 20 pounds in 20 days”. And then there’s the lovely recent pressuring trend for new mothers to get a “bikini body two weeks after giving birth”. Yay!! Not so much…
There are many programs and products focused on losing weight. Losing weight is challenging; I don’t mean to discount count this, but the even tougher nut to crack is how to keep it off.
You’ve lost weight. Great! Now the real work begins…
My personal philosophy is that you need to learn how to live healthy – diet and exercise – and come up with ways that work for YOU.
From personal experience and what I learned from the literature on the subject, to have successful weight loss maintenance you need to self-regulate your behavior, be mindful of what you’re eating, and if you emotionally eat, why you’re eating it. This gets into knowing your stress triggers and creating coping strategies to manage your emotions.
When our emotions do get the best of us and we have “slips” where our diet gets a little janky or we can’t seem to quite get it together to get to the gym, we need to learn the skills to catch these slips before they become full blown relapses.
The overarching concept with successful weight loss maintenance is a change in mindset from a “diet” or “exercise program” that you do for a period of time, to every day activities and behaviors where you are re-committing to your health.
You are staying on top of it. And although you don’t want to live in “fear” of weight regain, you need to not take your weight loss for granted. Protect it. Be as focused on it a few years after weight loss as you are after a few weeks.
I have engaged in self-monitoring of my behavior and my emotions for 18 years and it has helped me to not just maintain weight loss, but also maintain and improve my health.
A key underlying concept of self-monitoring and mindfulness is CONSISTENCY.
Being healthy, living healthy is a daily task.
But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s look at the literature on common themes of successful weight loss maintenance.
Researchers Rena Wing and Suzanne Phelan conducted a study to examine common strategies/behaviors of people who have successfully maintained weight loss. To conduct their analysis they looked at responses from participants in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).
Wing and Hill established the National Weight Control Registry in 1994. It includes a self-selected population of more than 4000 individuals, 18 years old or older who have lost at least 30 pounds and have kept the weight off for at least 1 year. When people enroll in the registry they take a series of questionnaires asking them how they lost weight and how they are maintaining weight loss. Then participants are followed annually to track any changes in their weight and weight-related behavior.
In the Wing and Phelan study (Wing & Phelan, 2005), successful weight loss maintenance is defined as “individuals who have lost at least 10% of their body weight and kept it off at least one year.”
Based on the findings from the study, here are the 6 key strategies for successfully maintaining weight loss long- term:
1) Engage in high levels of physical activity
2) Eat a diet that is low in calories and fat
3) Eat breakfast
4) Self-monitor weight on a regular basis
5) Maintain a consistent eating pattern
6) Catch “slips” before they turn into larger weight regains
The above speaks to general strategies for maintaining weight loss, however YOU will have to determine your own unique way of engaging in these behaviors in a way that works for you.
That’s whole other series of posts 🙂
For now, for this week, think about not just the weight loss but also how you are going to maintain it. Ideally the same strategies and skills you are using to lose weight will also be the ones you use to maintain weight. Otherwise, once you have lost weight, you have to learn new behaviors to help you maintain. If you’re losing weight in a sustainable way you are basically learning and practicing the same skills you will need to have successful weight loss maintenance.
This fitness thing is a journey, the ultimate ultra-marathon. It truly never ends until you punch out, and we don’t want that happening anytime soon! You have to pace yourself and learn about yourself with each passing mile, the easy ones and especially the tough ones, while always moving forward to a healthier, more MAD COOL version of YOU.
Go get ’em.
Jennifer and Your MAD COOL FITNESS CREW
Wing RR, Phelan S. Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005;82(suppl):222S–5S