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Strategies For Long Term Weight Loss Maintenance

A new study has revealed what the researchers involved say are the most effective aids to long term weight loss maintenance. But I have a sure-fire strategy for weight loss maintenance that comes with a host of other benefits. And it didn’t even get mentioned in the study…

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A team at California Polytechnic State University wanted to find out what the most successful weight loss maintainers among us do keep the excess pounds off.

What they did

So, they asked almost 5,000 members of Weight Watchers (WW) who had lost an average of 50 pounds on the program and kept it off for at least 3 years. They also interviewed a group of about 500 people who they classified as ‘weight yo-yoers’ or obese to see what they do differently (and much less successfully).

What they found

After exhaustive interviews and analysis, the researchers identified no fewer than 58 behaviours associated with weight maintenance.

Compared to the group of weight-stable individuals, the group of weight loss maintainers reported more frequent use of strategies like setting daily food intake goals, recording what was eaten each day, measuring foods, thinking about past successes, and remaining positive in the face of weight regain, according to an abstract of the study report.

“People who maintained their successful weight loss the longest reported greater frequency and repetition in healthy eating choices,” said Suzanne Phelan, a Kinesiology and Public Health Professor who led the study. “Healthier choices also became more automatic the longer people continued to make those choices. These findings are encouraging for those working at weight loss maintenance. Over time, weight loss maintenance may become easier, requiring less intentional effort.”

The takeaway

“Successful weight loss is associated with a variety of health benefits,” Phelan said. “The improved quality of life observed among the successful weight losers in this study may serve as an important motivator for people working at long-term weight management.”

My take

One strategy the study didn’t mention, as a key behaviour to losing weight and maintaining weight loss, is the importance of daily exercise. Just walking for an hour every morning can lead to weight loss, easier weight maintenance, increased physical strength, increased energy, improved cardio fitness and other benefits.

I know. I hear you saying, “I don’t have the time in the morning!” and, “I don’t have the resolve to commit to physical activity like that every day!”

I have a solution to your problem: Get up an hour earlier in the morning. And get a dog. You’ll start walking for the dog at first, then you’ll find you’re walking for yourself – especially when the pounds start rolling off, and you realize how much better you feel, and how much stronger and healthier you’re becoming.

See you at the Dog Park!

~ Maggie J.