One Thing You Can Do Now: #2 Figure Out What Works, and Do It

by Anne Bennett on June 22, 2009

Do you want to lose weight? Because if you do, if you really do, then it would be a good idea to look at how other people have done it. You may have heard the commonly quoted statistic that 99% of the time people regain the weight they worked so hard to lose. That’s a pretty dismal prospect to consider if you need to lose a lot of weight. Why even start if you’ve got almost no chance of success?

While it is true that losing weight and keeping it off have never been more difficult, given the availability of fast, cheap food and modern lifestyles that require very little physical activity, it is NOT impossible. It’s been done, again and again, by people who are now members of the National Weight Control Registry, and we can learn from them. After all, the best teachers are the ones who have done it themselves. (Would you learn to scale Everest from a person who was not a mountain climber?)

Incidentally, the National Weight Control Registry was started in 1993 as a research tool to study the behaviors of people who had lost weight and kept it off. To enroll in the Registry, a person must have maintained at least a 30-pound weight loss for at least a year. There are 4,000 members, and despite their varied lifestyles, they have four things in common when it comes to losing their weight and keeping it off. These factors aren’t new, but they’re worth repeating because they work.

First off, they eat a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. Before you reach for the pasta, read on. Carbohydrates are in lots of healthy foods, such as beans, vegetables and whole grains. These are the types of carbs members are eating. Protein makes up only about 20% of their daily intake, which follows with current medical guidelines that suggest we’re eating too much protein. They also limit their calories, which makes sense. Again, it’s all about simple math-calories in, calories out.

Second, they exercise every day. There’s just no getting around the fact that we absolutely have to move to lose. The most common form of exercise? It’s the one we humans were made for–walking.

Third, they eat breakfast every day. You’ve heard the mantra–eating even a small morning meal helps forestall hunger later in the day.  It’s also a sign that you have the discipline to do what it takes.

And fourth, they keep track of their weight and eating. This means that they weigh themselves regularly. If you don’t know how much you weigh, it’s easy to ignore those few pounds that have crept on.

There you have it. Nothing really new here, but look again. How many of these habits are you employing on a daily basis? If you’re following all of these suggestions and not getting anywhere, I’d like to add a few of my own.

At Weight Watchers, when I ask people why they’re having difficulty I often get the answer, “I don’t know. I really want to lose weight, but I can’t get myself to do it.” That’s a sign to me that perhaps they’re not dealing with the issues that may be causing them to eat.

Many of us don’t really know ourselves, not because we don’t care, but because it’s so difficult to understand why we often act against our own best interests. If that sounds like you, don’t beat yourself up about it. I’ve found that it takes a long time to get to know oneself, and it begins with forgiveness.

I had to forgive myself for not being perfect, and then–and this is important–I had to accept myself the way I was. (If you hate yourself, you’re not going to have a vested interest in your own outcome. Who cares about someone they hate?) Once I got on my own team,  it actually became exciting to try to figure myself out!  And I wanted good things to happen to the Anne I was getting to know.

It may sound flippant when I say that you eat too much and that you have to do what it takes to lose weight. My goal is to distill down to the essence of what we really need to do in order to get our lives on track. No, it isn’t easy.  But ask yourself if you’re worth it. If your answer is yes, then let’s figure out what will work for you, and let’s do it.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda June 24, 2009 at 4:27 am

Excellent post, Anne!

Courtney June 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Thanks Anne – I LOVE that you focus on the science, research, etc. It’s a tough battle but not impossible. See you Friday!

judy foster July 10, 2009 at 11:27 am

This is so good and so true. I’m still trying to figure myself out. I think there is really something in the loving oneself. I’m so used to taking care of others that I don’t often take care of me until everyone else is cared for and then I’m too tired. sigh! Thanks for this and all you do to encourage me. Judy

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