We’re inundated with tips and systems to lose weight, but advice on keeping it off is harder to find. Perhaps that’s because the current recommendation is to basically stay the course: stick with your plan, we’re told, and the weight will stay off. But researchers surveyed more than 1,000 people who lost weight, and found the keys to success — no matter what your goal. It turns out that losing weight and keeping it off require separate skills.
A new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests maintaining weight loss is not as simple and continuing with the plan that helped you drop pounds in the first place (an fact I suspect many yo-yo dieters have already guessed).
Researchers from Penn State interviewed more than 1,000 overweight Americans by phone, and revealed that different habits that are connected to losing weight, and to keeping it off. Along the way, they helpfully identified the top ones for each goal.
People who successfully lost weight were most likely to:
- be in a weight-loss program
- eat less sugar and carbs
- pick healthy snacks
- do varied types of exercise
And those who kept it off also had traits that weren’t connected to weight loss:
- eat lots of low-fat protein
- exercise regularly (for a fascinating discussion of working out and weight loss, check out this New York Times Magazine article)
- have rewards for following their plan
- remind themselves of why they want to stay slim
Mary Snider, a registered dietitian who works with the weight-loss program at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., says she buys the results — sort of. “Things like following a consistent exercise program as opposed to a varried one…when you look at the big picture, exercise is associated with both weight loss and maintenance.”
“But where I do often see a difference is motivation — with losing weight there is a bit of an external, looks driver, and when people hit the ideal range, they have to be motivated by health.” She also says keeping yourself accountable is also key, whether it’s by staying involved in a program, booking follow ups with a professional, or just stepping on the scale once a week.