Success breeds success. What exactly, in terms of lifestyle changes, do people who have been highly successful at both losing weight and keeping it off over the long term do? That’s just what researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Colorado set out to determine when they began their on-going study called the National Weight Control Registry (www.nwcr.ws).
Currently, the registry contains over 5000 successful weight losers. To be eligible to become a member of the registry, one had to have lost over 30 pounds and kept it off for more than one year.
What the study found was that there is no magic to losing weight and keeping it off. The essential equation for success is the age-old motto: eat less calories and burn more through daily exercise and you will lose weight and keep it off! (And be sure to “get back on the horse” when life’s ups and downs get in the way of you maintaining your new healthy lifestyle habits.)
Here are the 10 habits of these successful weight losers:
1. 98 percent of registry participants reported that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight (translation: you must change your eating habits in some way to lose weight—meaning eating fewer calories).
2. Most registry members reporting consuming less high-fat-dense food groups and more low-fat-dense food groups resulting in a lower daily calorie intake and greater weight loss (translation: eat lighter [lower calorie] and healthier [lower “bad” fats, less fried foods and more fruits and vegetables]).
3. 94 percent of registry participants reported increasing their physical activity (translation: daily cardio such as walking or running in addition to frequent strength training sessions).
4. 90 percent reported exercising, on average, about one hour per day (translation: get in some daily cardio such as walking or running in addition to strength training sessions-preferably 3 times/week).
5. 78 percent reported eating breakfast daily (translation: eat breakfast…lose weight).
6. 75 percent of registry participants reported weighing themselves at least once a week (translation: weigh yourself weekly regardless of what you think the number will read).
7. 62 percent watched TV less than 10 hours/week (translation: limit the tube time unless you have a treadmill in front of the TV).
8. 42% of the sample reported that maintaining their weight loss was less difficult than losing weight (translation: once you lose the weight, be sure to keep up with your new habits—which is the hardest part).
9. Nearly all registry members stated that weight loss led to improvements in their level of energy, physical mobility, general mood, self-confidence, and physical health (translation: losing weight and attaining your health and fitness goals will make you a happier person, so stick with it!).
10. For those who did regain weight, weight regain was due, at least in part, to failure to maintain behavior changes (translation: this is not a diet that you go on and off but a lifestyle …always remember to keep at it and get support to overcome lapses and avoid a full-blown relapse.)
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