Once you have lost weight, how do you keep it off?
Although losing weight may seem like a hard job, the harder part, actually, is keeping it off – or so I am told by many successful dieters. Research indicates about half of weight lost is regained within a year, and most individuals return to their baseline weight within 3 to 5 years. Clearly, dieting is not a “quick fix.”
The “easy” part about dieting (not that any of it is really easy) is that most dieters limit their food choices. Cookies, chips and fries are off-limits, not an option. But once the diet is over, how can a dieter re-introduce those foods without going hog-wild? The answer: by eating very mindfully and staying connected with the body’s needs for fuel. That means, check in with your body: “Am I hungry? Does my body actually need this fuel???” Mindless eating got you into weight trouble; mindful eating can help keep you out of trouble.
A 4.5-month study with 23 dieting women suggests the keys to successful maintenance of weight loss included:
- accountability to others; someone “looking over your shoulder”
- social support from family, friends, and co-workers
- planning ahead for meals, travel, restaurants, parties, etc.
- awareness and mindfulness of food choices
- basic nutrition education from a registered dietitian
- portion control, measuring food
- exercise—and not feeling guilty for taking time to exercise
- self-motivation—and not letting minor dietary indiscretions turn into a major relapse
Barriers that undermined success included:
- life transitions
- change in health
- internal factors, such as husband hating when wife is on a diet
- environmental pressures (for example, easy availability of snack foods)
- lack of accountability
- lack of social support; snide comments about the dieter’s healthful eating
Based on this study, your best bet for keeping off the weight you worked so hard to lose includes being accountable to someone and putting thought into your food choices, You cannot return to mindlessly eating whatever you want. Hence, you need to create a food plan that you are willing and able to maintain for the rest of your life.
A registered dietitian (RD) can help you create this life-long plan. To find your local sports RD, use the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org.
With best wishes for lifelong success!
Reference: Facilitators and barriers to weight loss and weight loss maintenance: a qualitative exploration Metzgar C, Preston A, Miller D.,and Nickols-Richardson .1. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietietics 28:6; 593-603; Dec 2015 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jhn.12273/full