1. Exercise every day
Nine out of 10 NWCR members average an hour of exercise a day, and 62% watch fewer than 10 hours of TV a week. A review of studiesconcludes that exercising 60 to 90 minutes a day, plus counting calories,“substantially increases the odds of successful long-term weight maintenance.”
To make working out a habit, look for a variety of activities—jogging, lifting weights, playing tennis, cycling or a Wii fitness game—you can enjoy regardless of the weather.
2. Eat more to weigh less
A new review of 17 earlier studies published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reports that filling up on low-density foods (those with fewer calories and more water per serving, such as fruit and vegetables) is a key factor in weight control, while trying to limit yourself to smaller portions of higher calorie items is a recipe for failure.
A recent study found that people who ate a three-cup, low-density salad before a meal ate 8 percent fewer calories overall than those who ate a small salad with high-fat ingredients.
3. Don’t skip breakfast
Nearly 8 out of 10 (78%) of NWCR members eat breakfast every day. Without a morning meal, your stomach will be pumping out appetite-stimulating hormones like crazy, making the urge to overindulge later in the day hard to resist.
4. Weigh yourself regularly
Three out of four NWCR members weighed themselves at least once a week to make sure they were still on track. For an accurate reading, weigh yourself before breakfast.
5. Keep a food diary
A studyby Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that people who kept a daily food diary lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t track what they ate, probably because the act of recording makes you reflect on your food choices.
One cool tool to update your food intake on the fly—such as the granola you added to your low-fat fro-yo after work—is My Diet Diary-Calorie Counter, a free smartphone app. The app also calculates how many calories you are burning, so if two pounds have crept back, you can tweak your activity level to torch them before they turn into 20.
6. Love your body
Becoming more accepting of what you see in the mirror can more than triple success with a weight-loss program based on diet and exercise, a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutritionreported last year.
The researchers found that dieters who dislike their bodies are more prone to unhealthy eating patterns, including bingeing and emotional overeating. Those who attended group sessions to discuss ways to improve body image dropped an average of 7 percent of their starting weight during the 12-month study, compared to a 2 percent loss for the control group.
7. Have self-compassion
When you can forgive yourself for eating a high-calorie treat, you are less likely to trigger the vicious cycle of negative feelings that cause emotional overeating and weight regain.
In a 2007 study at Wake Forest University, women—including dieters—were told they were participating in a taste test of various candies and divided into three groups. Two of the groups were given a doughnut to eat before the taste test. Those who were urged to forgive themselves for eating the donut ate significantly less candy than those who felt guilty about breaking their diet with the donut.