Whenever I work with clients to help them lose weight, I always emphasise the importance of having a good plan for maintenance. It can be easy to get down to your target weight and think "I've done it!" - but in reality, maintenance is a whole new challenge in itself.
Obviously, education around nutrition and how to structure healthy, balanced meals forms the basis of weight maintenance, but the secret of successful weight loss goes beyond the food we eat. The National Weight Control Registry follows the diet and lifestyle behaviours of 4000 adults who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds and maintained their results for at least a year. It highlights seven of the key behaviours these individuals have adopted in order to ensure their long term success.
Three of the factors were dietary, whereas the remaining four were behavioural, which shows that diet and lifestyle are equally important when it comes to maintaining weight loss.
Here are 7 Secrets of Successful Slimmers
- All successful dieters consumed a calorie controlled diet. The amount they ate was limited on average to 1,300 to 1,680 calories per day. In other words, the diet didn't end when the weight was lost. The conscious, portion-controlled eating continued.
- Dieters ate roughly four to five times per day, and had a consistent food intake. They found what worked for them, and stuck to it.
- The dieters had breakfast every day. A good breakfast helps to prevent excessive eating later in the day. It's also understood that eating breakfast elevates basal metabolic rate, so you burn more calories throughout the day. Try a smoothie or eggs for a healthy, balanced breakfast.
- Exercise. It will come as no surprise that all the successful dieters were very physically active. The average person in the National Weight Control Registry exercised for about 60-90 minutes per day.
- They also weighed themselves frequently to track their progress, stepping onto the scales weekly or even daily. I always encourage my clients to continue to weigh themselves weekly once on a maintenance programme. It's surprisingly easy for your weight to creep up without you noticing if you don't keep an eye on it!
- 60% of the dieters watched less than 10 hours of television per week, while the national average at the time of the study was 28 hours. It doesn't take a scientist to work out why sitting in front of the television isn't the healthiest lifestyle choice. Aim to watch no more than two hours of TV per day.
- Finally, the successful dieters in the study took action as soon as they had small weight gains. They would either reduce or adjust their food intake or increase their level of exercise at the first sign of weight gain.
These might not seem like ground-breaking weight loss revelations, but it goes to show that a rounded approach to weight loss achieves the most long-lasting results. A shift in attitude and lifestyle can be required alongside nutritional adjustments to achieve your goals, and it's worth considering the moment you achieve your goal weight as a key marker on the journey, rather than the finishing line.