Weight loss and weight maintenance are like two sides of the same coin. In reality, the habits that help you drop pounds are the same ones that will help you maintain your weight loss. After all, losing weight isn't really considered a success unless you manage to keep it off.
Here are the top 10 strategies of successful 'losers':
1. They get to know themselves really well.
- One key to success is learning how to manage your own high risk situations - such as eating when you're stressed or cleaning your plate out of habit rather than hunger. Successful losers are adaptable and plan ahead - they know what situations might get them into trouble and have a backup plan for dealing with them.
2. They get lot of exercise.
- On average the National Weight Control Registry enrollees burn about 2000 calories per week through exercise. That's a lot - they get about 60-90 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise daily. The most popular exercise is walking, and they average 5-6 miles a day.
3. They set goals and monitor their behavior.
- Setting goals - ones you measure, like how many minutes you will walk, how many calories you will take in, or how many sit ups you will do - are helpful because you can track whether or not you meet these goals. Successful losers keep track of how much exercise they get, and they keep food journals - sometimes using a food log to plan meals ahead of time. These self-monitoring strategies are critical and provide much-needed feedback on behavior changes.
4. They have regular meal patterns and frequency.
- Many people get in trouble with their weight because their eating patterns are so disorganized. Successful losers report that eating at regular intervals and snacking only when they hungry are keys to success. Skipping meals usually backfires. and having routine meal times means that you don't go long stretches without food - which often leads to excessive snacking or larger meals later on.
5. They eat a low fat, nutrient dense diet.
- No surprises here, but a high quality diet - one with plenty of protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains - is what keeps people satisfied. The fruits, veggies and whole grains are bulky and filling, but their calories cost is relatively low. Adequate protein is key, since protein is highly satisfying and will keep hunger at bay between meals.
6. They practice portion control.
- By learning what size portion you need to eat to feel 'not hungry and more' - as opposed to feeling 'stuffed' - you can trim your intake significantly. Portion control strategies include using smaller plates, serving your food in the kitchen (rather than having serving dishes at the table), and using meal replacements such as protein shakes, bars or frozen meals.
7. They practice stress management.
- Food is often used as a comfort when we're stressed - but we usually feel guilty afterwards, which just increases the stress and keeps the cycle going. Successful losers have learned to find other ways to reduce their stress. They exercise, call a friend, or practice some meditation or deep breathing.
8. They had an attitude adjustment.
- Many people who have successfully lose weight say that they had to change their thinking about dieting and weight loss. Some felt it was 'in their genes' to be fat, or that they couldn't lose because they'd never been successful in the past. Eventually, they faced the problem head on - recognizing that success would come through a series of small steps and a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
9. They adopted a plan, and they stick to it.
- Once you have an established routine of how you generally eat, and how frequently you exercise, learn to stick with this routine day, and day out. People who have lost weight and are successful and maintaining that loss do this - even on holidays or whey they go to restaurants. Many dine out less often, because they prefer having more control over what they eat by preparing more meals at home.
10. They have learned to control their environment.
- Successful losers learn how to control situations that are most likely to get them into trouble. The foods that are available in the refrigerator or cupboard at home, in restaurants, at the workplace or in the grocery store are all environment that can be controlled. To gain control over the food environment, keep 'safe' foods in the house, choose restaurants where you know you can get foods that you want, bring appropriate foods to work and prepare a shopping list before you go to the supermarket.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS,RD, CSSD, is paid consultant for Herbalife