The media reported with great fanfare this week that it really doesn’t matter what type of diet you go on–low fat, low carbs, grapefruit, whatever–the key factor is calories in, calories out. The most recent iteration of this finding is a study by Sacks et al. in the New England Journal of Medicine.
What these studies don’t address is what do we do once we’ve lost the weight? As a world-class yo-yo dieter, I can attest to the fact that losing weight is easy, keeping it off is something altogether different. So I am very pleased to report that I have passed the 18-month mark in my maintenance plan after losing nearly 80 lbs on Jenny Craig. This means that over the last 18 months, I haven’t been more than 3 lbs. over my goal weight.
What has been really helpful to me is participation in the National Weight Control Registry. Part of this is purely psychological. After all, how bad would it be to have to let the NWCR know that they had to take me off their books because I had become chubby once more! Catastrophe! But even better, the NWCR provides lots of clues for maintaining weight loss. Here’s what successful maintainers do:
- Eat breakfast every day (78%)
- Modify food intake (98%)
- Exercise, at least one hour per day (90%)
- Weigh at least once per week (75%)
- Watch less than 10 hours of TV per week (62%)
Actually, I do all of these things and then some. I weigh myself every morning, and I have strategies in place depending on the outcome. If I’m one pound over my goal, I drop the cheese from my lunch sandwich. Two pounds over, and I drop my afternoon and evening snacks. Usually, this takes care of things in one day. One day is better than looking at weeks or months to get back to where I’m supposed to be.
I’m not a huge exerciser. I love exercise, but my job and writing do not allow much time for this. Mr. F and I walk at least 2 miles per day, and usually more.
The key seems to be to find something you can live with long term. We’re not stoics here. I just enjoyed a marvelous lunch (we do this once a week) of Mr. F’s macaroni and cheese, followed by a dessert of bread pudding with ice cream. Tomorrow? Okay, if I’m over, I know how to deal with that.