How to Maintain Weight Loss: Tips From People Who Kept Weight Off

Losing weight is hard enough, but maintaining that slimmer figure can seem like mission impossible for many people.

Only about 20% of Americans who lose weight are able to keep it off long term, research has found. What’s their secret?

A recent study aimed to find out. Researchers asked thousands of people who had lost a substantial amount of weight and maintained it for more than a year to reveal their best tips.

The resulting paper — described as the first large-scale study to allow weight-loss maintainers to share what helped them succeed in their own words — was published last month in the journal Obesity.

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“One of the most impressive findings was how weight-loss maintainers described perseverance in the face of setbacks,” said Suzanne Phelan, the lead author and a professor in the kinesiology and public health department at California Polytechnic State University, in a statement.

“Setbacks were not described as failures. They were seen as a temporary interruption in their path. Many weight-loss maintainers described getting back on track at the next meal or the next day.”

Whether you’re just starting your weight-loss journey or need some motivation to continue, the advice could help inspire you and keep you on track.

Researchers sought out and analyzed the written responses from more than 6,000 people in the WW International (formerly Weight Watchers) Success Registry — a database of WW members who are weight-loss maintainers.

On average, the study participants had lost about 53 pounds and maintained it for more than three years. The vast majority, 92%, were women.

They were asked open-ended questions such as, “What is one piece of advice that you would give to help someone succeed at long-term weight loss?” and “What is the single most important thing in your life that has changed as a result of weight loss?”

Some of their most striking answers are listed below.

The two main pieces of advice for maintaining weight loss from people who have successfully done it were perseverance in the face of setbacks and continuing to track food intake, the study found.

Here is some of the advice they shared:

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When it came to tracking food intake, the weight-loss maintainers advised just paying attention to what’s on your plate rather than judging yourself.

Another database of weight-loss maintainers, the National Weight Control Registry, found similar sentiments. Most of its members continued to eat a low calorie, low fat diet and 90% exercised for about one hour per day. Three-quarters weighed themselves at least once a week.

One major theme was looking back and fearing a return to the way things were. So the focus was on staying vigilant, maintaining the current weight and continuing to enjoy better health and quality of life.

There’s plenty to look forward to after all that effort.

When asked about how their life has changed after slimming down, the weight-loss maintainers cited major improvements in confidence, pain, mobility, body image, and mental and physical health.

“My attitude has completely changed,” a participant wrote. “I am not trying to better for anyone other than myself. For the first time in 10 years, I am happy with who I am and where I am in life.”

This content was originally published here.

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