Losing weight is a topic that’s everywhere. Talk shows and news programs regularly fill their time slots with folks sharing heroic weight-loss stories. Some TV shows, like The Biggest Loser, even allow viewers to follow along with the progress of the contestants. Despite these efforts, obesity and overweight rates continue to climb. In reality, weight loss is very difficult and maintenance can be even more challenging.
The most commonly cited statistic about maintaining weight loss states that only about 5% of the population is successful, but there’s quite a bit of debate about how accurate this is. One meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that those able to lose at least 10% of their bodyweight actually have a 20% success rate. Still, a one-out-of-five chance isn’t all that promising.
The few who manage to shed excess pounds for good almost always say their success is due to a complete lifestyle change. No diets. No quick fixes. Weight maintenance is all about making conscious choices for the rest of your life. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also doable. These seven tips can help you get there.
1. Make working out a priority
In 1994, the National Weight Control Registry was founded to identify individuals who have successfully maintained significant weight loss and to study the behaviors that help them stay in shape. Currently, it tracks more than 10,000 people. Of all the strategies these individuals use, exercise is the most common. According to the website, 90% of members exercise for at least one hour every day. It should be as habitual as brushing your teeth.
Most Americans fall far short of this amount, struggling to meet the minimum requirements spelled out by the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Many don’t enjoy their sweat sessions, so the real key to success is finding something you like. If that’s impossible, at least find a way to hold yourself accountable or give yourself small rewards. Another strategy is to make your treadmill or bike workout the only time you allow yourself to watch a favorite show. Your sweat session will suddenly seem a lot less horrible.