We're in the month for new beginnings. So how are we doing?
If you are still trying to figure out the best strategy to take off those leftover holiday pounds, here's a news flash: You will lose weight with any diet that helps you eat fewer calories than you burn for energy. Cut out the late night snacking. Choose to eat more vegetables than french fries. That could do it.
What we really need, though, is a way to keep the excess weight off after we lose it. To the rescue is the National Weight Loss Control Registry, a program that tracks the strategies of real people who have lost between 30 and 300 pounds (really) and kept it off for five or more years. These investigators continuously track the habits of successful losers so that we can learn from what they have learned. And more than 10,000 men and women have participated in this research thus far. Here's what we now know from their experiences:
Get help if you need it. A little less than half (45 percent) of those who successfully lost weight and kept it off long-term did it on their own. The other 55 percent enlisted the help of some type of weight loss program.
Accept that you will need to change some habits. Most (98 percent) of these participants who effectively lost weight say they modified their food intake (duh). And 94 percent increased their physical activity. Interestingly, too, the most frequently reported mode of exercise for successful loss was walking.
And after the weight comes off, what strategies work to keep it off? Besides maintaining a diet that is low in both fat and calories, here are the top tips from these weight management role models:
Eat breakfast every day. More than three-fourths of successful losers "break the fast" at the start of each day.
Step on the scale at least once a week. Weekly weight checks help these folks stay on track with their goals.
Do something else besides watching television. Almost two-thirds of successful weight losers say they watch less than 10 hours of television each week.
Average at least one hour of physical activity each day. It all adds up, even if you have to get it in 10-minute intervals.
Not rocket science, but these simple strategies have been proven over and over to work. We just need to do them. And if you need motivation, read the success stories of these folks at www.nwcr.ws.