Happy New Year everyone! In continuing our theme of New Year’s resolutions, I think one of the hardest things this time of year is sticking to the resolutions we have set. We all have a vision of who we want to be, and now is the time of year to feel inspiried to start taking those first steps towards that new you. However, January slips into February, and before you know it, your running shoes have been left by the door for a week and that gym membership is starting to go unused. It’s hard to maintain your motivation, especially if the weight loss doesn’t continue. One of the toughest things about dieting is keeping off the weight you’ve lost already.
There is a great article by Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times magazine about losing weight and the struggle to keep it off. In the article, Parker-Pope mentions the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks thousands of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off. The purpose of this research is to determine what makes people successful both at weight loss and weight maintenance.
So what did these successful people have in common?
First, they lost weight in many different ways including Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, low-carb, and even surgery. This indicates that there really isn’t one program or method that will work for everyone, and that if you’ve found something that works for you, don’t feel the need to jump on the bandwagon of the latest diet.
They exercised a lot. Those who had successfully maintained significant weight loss exercises an average of an hour per day, 6-7 days a week. The exercise was usually moderate, rather than intense, and typically included walking about 4 miles a day. They also watched about half the amount of televsion as the average American. The researchers found that people who were trying to maintain a lower weight than they had previously been needed to exercise more and eat less than someone who weighed the same without any weight loss (which seems incredibly unfair, by the way).
They paid close attention to what they ate, even years after losing weight. Most counted calories or points, and ate a similar pattern of food without any “cheat” days. They regularly ate breakfast, and ate less than they did before losing weight.
So, the good news is that weight loss and weight maintenance are possible. There are thousands of people across the country who have pulled it off. The bad news, of course, is that it’s hard. Really hard. For some people, weight can will just fall right off, but for most people it’s something that they will struggle with for a good portion of their lives. One of the most important things I’ve learned from weight loss research is that it seems the longer you have excess weight, the harder it is to lose it. If you gain a few pounds over Christmas, but work hard through January, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. It’s those 30 pounds you’ve put on over the past 1o years that are going to give you some trouble.
With that being said, let me give you some encouragement to start now! If you’ve gained some weight this holiday season, don’t beat yourself up about; just get moving! Now is the perfect time to start losing those extra pounds.
Is anyone willing to share their weight loss goals? Good luck this January!