Weight Loss – Best Practices and Long-term Maintenance
Successful weight loss maintenance does not mean one has to get to their ideal body weight or lose 100 pounds. The evidence shows even a 10% weight loss can lead to significant improvements in cholesterol, sugar, and heart disease.
One of the cornerstones of healthy living is being able to maintain a healthy weight. With around 65% of adults in the United States being at a weight classified as overweight or obese, it is important for us to educate ourselves on how to not only lose weight, but how to keep the weight off. And let us face it, losing weight is difficult! But keep in mind, weight loss must be more than an annual New Year’s resolution, more than something to do for the summer, and more than something seen in advertising.
Fortunately for us, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) provides a general guide to lose weight and keep that weight off! It is based on real people and what they did to successfully lose weight and maintain that weight loss over time.
Why should an ideal body weight be an important health goal for us to try to achieve? Obesity is a chronic disease that puts us at higher risk of death from any cause not to mention risk of developing numerous chronic conditions. Hypertension, heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, breathing issues, stroke…. the list goes on and on. And the impact obesity has on quality of life and mental well-being cannot be overlooked. But there is hope! With your health care team, you can limit the risk of developing these problems and improve your quality of life.
Also Read: Lack of Sleep – Impacts and Prevention
Successful weight loss maintenance does not mean one has to get to their ideal body weight or lose 100 pounds. The evidence shows even a 10% weight loss can lead to significant improvements in cholesterol, sugar, and heart disease. Your primary care doctor will likely tell you dietary and lifestyle modifications are important factors for healthy weight management. Let’s go back and narrow down what these dietary and lifestyle modifications look like according to the NWCR. Remember, the goal is to help you lead a healthy life.
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Of the people who were able to lose and maintain 10% or more of their original weight, almost 100% of them modified their food intake in some way. Making changes to your diet doesn’t mean you can never eat ice cream again. The evidence shows that limiting variety in your diet with consistency leads to successful weight loss and maintenance. Approximately 80% of those who successfully lost and maintained that weight loss ate breakfast every day. The best way to modify your diet based on what you like to eat should be discussed with your doctor or a dietician. They can help develop a plan that leads to success.
Physical activity is another important area for successful weight loss. Over 90% of the people who modified their diet also increased their physical activity from baseline. No, walking a lot at work does not count. This increased activity must be in addition to what you normally do during the day. Current recommendations say 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking) per week is sufficient. Keeping track of your weight by weighing yourself weekly is also important and promotes personal accountability. And limit the amount of time you watch TV! Less than 10 hours of screen time was also part of the success plan for losing and maintaining weight loss. The less active you are, the more difficult it will be to maintain weight loss.
You do not have to do this alone! In fact, there is data that shows monthly personal contact with your physician or educator has been proven to be more effective at maintaining weight loss. Monitoring your BMI, waist circumference, and weight are important things for your physician to follow. Try including friends and family as a support group in your journey. This not only improves your quality of life from a social standpoint, but it also helps you avoid behaviors that might lead to weight gain such as binge eating during stressful times, eating as a response to emotions, and adds some accountability as well. Other tactics that may help include diet journals listing day to day eating habits.
Contrary to popular belief, weight loss is not a fad. Its main purpose is not solely cosmetic. Weight loss is the foundation to a good, healthy life. It not only lowers your risk of all-cause death and all those chronic medical conditions, it also improves your overall quality of life. Consistency, accountability, and discipline are key aspects to losing and maintaining that weight loss. Support from your primary care doctor, family, and friends plays a key role in your weight loss journey. Avoiding highs and lows in your eating habits will keep your weight loss steady. Again, if you have any questions or do not know where to start, consult with your primary care provider as soon as possible.