Why do so many dieters inevitably regain lost weight?
Studies show that most people (if not all) put the pounds back on after 4 or 5 years.
Elisa Zied, registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, speaks from personal experience, after losing 30 pounds over the years.
She tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, "People have a problem losing weight and keeping it off for many reasons. Mainly, what happens when you diet and reduce your calories dramatically, you lose weight and your metabolism slows. That means your body requires fewer calories to maintain a reduced body weight. But also, a lot of programs and diet books set us up for failure because they make us restrict food groups or eliminate them altogether and make us eat so differently than what we're used to and it's hard to sustain that long-term."
Researchers from the National Weight Control Registry (a study of men and women who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year) say most success stories had the following things in common:
- Vigorous exercise weekly
- Low-calorie and low-fat intake
- Healthy breakfast
- Monitored weight
Be consistent in your diet and activity habits
If you reduced your portions and became more active during weight loss, continue those behaviors as you maintain your weight also. Try to eat similarly during vacations, holidays and on weekends as you do during the week. A recent study of National Weight Control Registry participants found that those who ate most consistently kept more weight off long-term than those whose were more strict during weekdays than at other times.
Weigh yourself daily or weekly, and if the scale's up a few pounds, get back to the basics: Write your food intake and activities down, cut back on portions and you'll increase your chances of getting off those few pounds.
Weighing yourself daily can help people get in touch with usual fluctuations. You won't gain or lose 2 pounds of fat in a day (that's 3,500 calories per pound). But you can gain or lose a few pounds, depending on your salt and fluid intake, when you are in your menstrual cycle. Weighing yourself daily can help you take action sooner and get back on track more effectively than if you wait a week or a month to see how your weight has changed.
Move your body
Research does show that exercise is one of the best predictors of long-term weight-loss maintenance. The people in the National Weight Control Registry average about 60 to 90 minutes of exercise a day; studies show that you need to increase your activity level after you lose weight to counter the drop in metabolism that accompanies weight loss. That includes exercise as well as less formal physical activity like taking the stairs and getting up to change the channel on your TV.
If your workout routine has become less effective, vary the workout; try new equipment, try a new sport, find something fun to do: bowling, hiking; join a running or biking club, train for a short race, walking or running, tap dancing.
Talk to friends and family who support your weight-loss efforts: registered dietitians who work on the front lines with overweight patients, physicians and certified fitness trainers. Always check the credentials of any program you plan to follow or people with whom you seek treatment from, whether it be a book or a formal program. Trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it promises a quick fix, run the other way -- fast!