Americans have a reputation as highly independent souls who like to do things their own way. It’s a notion that is certainly borne out in the realm of weight loss.
In 1994, two well-respected researchers founded the National Weight Control Registry to track people who have lost weight. Dr. James O. Hill, a noted obesity expert, and Dr. Rena R. Wing, a professor of psychiatry, wanted to find out how people lose weight. But even more so, they wanted to know how people keep it off.
To date, about 6,000 people have logged their weight loss stories into the database. To qualify, a person must be at least 18 years old, have lost at least 30 pounds and have kept it off for one year or more. Participants have reported losing up to 300 pounds and keeping it off for as long as 66 years.
Almost half of the registry members—45 percent—designed and followed their own weight loss program. I'm not surprised by this at all. In looking for people to interview, it was far easier to find people who went solo. When I asked why someone would go it alone, more than once I heard, “I’m just not a joiner.”
While people in the NWCR study may have struck out on their own, their avenues to success have been pretty much the same. Ninety-eight percent of participants modified their eating habits, and most people report eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet in order to maintain their weight loss. Similarly, 94 percent of people said they increased their level of physical activity, mostly walking. On average, people report exercising one hour a day. And where do they find the time, you might ask? Sixty-two percent report watching fewer than 10 hours of television a week.
So... I'm ready to post my success. I've lost the 30 pounds and kept it off for a little over a year. How about you... will you join me?!