Did you know that most people who are overweight are generally good at dieting? Maybe not for the long term, but at least for the 12 weeks of the diet plan they are following. Keeping the weight off is the tough part. Chronic dieting can lead to a vicious cycle of weight loss and gain that may leave a person carrying more weight than then they set out to lose weight. Many have discovered that weight loss doesn’t usually stick until it becomes a lifestyle change.
The cycle of weight loss and gain is sometimes called the “yo-yo” effect. Why is it so common? A host of “diets” that people are following aren’t realistic. Many times people to go to extremes, they will severely restrict their calories to start a diet; but sticking to that calorie level is simply not something they can maintain. Or a person can start a super intense workout regimen that would be impossible in “real life”. At other times a diet can be too restrictive; like diets that only allow a certain fruit or require the same thing for breakfast and lunch daily- how realistic is that long term?
So what is the answer? Make it a lifestyle; change your eating habits and start exercising. Avoid diets that make you eat only a certain food, are very restrictive, or promise unrealistic results. Weight loss the healthy way is usually slow and steady and those who lose weight this way are often more successful at maintaining weight loss. Your goal is successful maintained weight loss, don’t be a chronic dieter. According to the National Weight Control Registry, here are the 6 things recommended to keep the weight off:
- Engaging in high levels of physical activity
- Eating a diet that is low in calories and fat
- Eating breakfast
- Self-monitoring weight on a regular basis
- Maintaining a consistent eating pattern
- Catching "slips" quickly before they turn into larger weight re-gains.
Erika Watson-Lawson is a registered dietitian with Memorial Hospital.