Weight Loss Successes - How'd They Do It?
© Joan Price. May not be reprinted without permission.
The January 1998 issue of the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter reported on the findings of the National Weight Control Registry, and the news is good enough to share with you.
The National Weight Control Registry is a compilation of how 800 people managed to lose weight and keep it off over time. Information is compiled by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Those who were included had to have lost and kept off at least 30 pounds for at least one year.
Rather than buying the latest fad diet book or ordering the latest pill, let's learn from these 800 people who have accomplished their weight loss goals. Here's what these success stories did:
- They didn't give up. More than 90 percent had already gained and lost and gained many times, to the tune of an average of 270 pounds lost and regained per person. Think of each weight loss attempt not as proof that you're a miserable failure, but as part of your research into what works and doesn't work for you.
- They learned to eat right. More than 60 percent of registry members reported succeeding when they put tighter controls on their diet.
- They made exercise a priority. More than 80 percent of registry members succeeded after they increased their physical activity. Men burned more than 3,500 calories a week exercising. Women burned almost 2,700, the equivalent of a 4-mile walk daily.
Another lesson we can learn from the Weight Control Registry is that many of the preconceptions we hold about weight loss are myths.
For example, you may be holding on to the misconception that it's practically impossible to lose weight you've carried since childhood. Many of the participants surveyed had, in fact, been obese for most of their lives. Many also had overweight parents and overcame their genetic inheritance.
You may believe it's practically impossible to lose weight if you're over 40. Not true - the average age of the success stories among Weight Control Registry participants is 45. Many are substantially older. It's never too late!
You may think that weight loss only works for people who have a small amount of weight to lose. Weight Control Registry participants averaged a loss of 29% of their body weight!
Another weight-loss researcher, registered dietician Anne Fletcher (whose books include Thin for Life and Eating Thin for Life), tracked 200 people who had kept weight off for at least three years. Her respondents lost an average of 64 pounds, and 30 of them kept off 100 pounds for five years or more! They ranged in age, with some in their 70s and 80s. No one program or method worked for everyone, except that the basics of eating right, exercise and attitude adjustment matched the Weight Control Registry findings.