Over the last few years, as I've lost weight, and talked with others who have lost weight, I've heard some common themes and familiar phrases. I'll call these my Top 10 Weight Control Tips. Catchy, huh? Maybe not, but listen in on this advice from those who have succeeded.
1. When your moment of reckoning comes, don’t shrink from it.
The question that fascinates me most is, “Why did you do it?” Most people, although not all, can point to a single moment in time that forces them to face their dilemma. This moment is sometimes referred to as a “triggering event.” I had my own, the horrible photo of me walking my child to kindergarten.
2. Remove the word “diet” from your vocabulary.
“In this country, when we think of diet, we think it’s something we do for 16 days, and then we can go back to the way we were living,” says Dr. James O. Hill, co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry. The fact is that permanent weight loss rarely results from a short-term fix.
3. Make weight control, not weight loss, your goal.
Once you’ve taken the emphasis off short-term fixes, it’s time to take the long view. Maintenance of a healthy weight should become a top priority for life.
4. Resolve to look to the future.
Many people exhaust themselves losing and regaining weight on one plan after another. You may have failed a few times, too. But whatever you’ve tried in the past, and for whatever reason it has failed, put it out of your mind. “Don’t let the past dictate your future,” says Eric McLaughlin, a personal trainer at Jim White Fitness in Virginia Beach.
5. Gear up to take on society, not just yourself.
To succeed, you have to take responsibility for your own health. Yet it’s too simplistic to lay the blame for overweight solely on the individual. Our entire society is set up to encourage a life of sloth and overindulgence. There's a fast food joint on every corner, and it's so easy just to pull in. Especially if you've been "dieting" by skipping meals. And why on earth would you walk anywhere?
6. Listen to your body and the voices in your head.
Listening to voices in your head is generally frowned upon in polite society. But actually your inner voices have some very valid things to say. For example, Nancy Clark, a Boston-area sports nutrition specialist, advises people to consider one simple question before they pick up something to eat. “Ask yourself, ‘Does my body need this fuel to sustain itself?’” she suggests.
7. Banish your dread of exercise.
Of the 7,000 people who have logged their weight loss onto the National Weight Control Registry, the overwhelming majority report adopting a lifelong habit of exercise. Only 9 percent of people said they had lost weight and maintained their loss without exercise, “You might be able to do it, but the odds are against you,” cautions co-founder Dr. Hill.
8. But don’t count on exercise alone to lose weight.
It sounds contradictory, I know. But don’t throw up your barbells yet. “Exercise alone will not cause you to lose weight,” confirms dietitian Nancy Clark. “You have to create a calorie deficit.” Simply put, you create a calorie deficit when you expend more calories than you take in.
9. Realize that eventually new habits take hold.
Early in my blog, I mentioned a study showing that sticking with a diet--any diet--is a better predictor of weight loss than the method used to achieve it. How long it takes for new habits to become second nature varies. But as habits do become established, people often find that eventually, even when the will wavers, the brain balks.
10. Help someone else along.
Part of the allure of a twelve-step program is to help someone else in the same way you’ve been helped. “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs,” the Twelfth Step reads. And many successful weight loss seekers live that truth.
“When I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting, people greeted me and everyone said, ‘Please come back,’” remembers Atiya M., who lost 60 pounds. “And I thought ‘Oh, I’ll be back.’ I just knew.” Today, Atiya is both sponsored, and a sponsor to others.
Friends helping friends, parents helping children, spouses helping each other. It's a boost not only for others, but for you, too.