Losing weight is one thing. Keeping it off is another issue. Too many dieters end up back where they started. The sad statistics are that most folks will regain the weight they worked so hard to shed if they don’t adopt lifelong strategies for weight control management. So what are the savvy secrets for staying slim? Turns out is has more to do with what’s on your mind before you think about what’s on your plate. Dr. John Foreyt, professor of psychiatry and Director of Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston says, “The keys to long term weight control are problem solving on a daily basis, predicting challenges and then planning for them. People may say they want a detailed prescribed meal plan, but what they need is nutrition know-how and the problem solving skills to use any day of their lives.” He concludes that it’s the power of mind (read: willpower and motivation) that keeps the trim people trim and boy do they work at it, “They are eternally vigilant with daily or weekly weighing, they monitor calorie intake and they’re highly active exercising at least 60 minutes a day.”
According to Dr. Jim Hill’s research from the National Weight Control Registry (a database of more than 5,000 people who've lost more than 30 pounds and kept the weight off for at least a year) their exercise of choice is not marathon running- it’s walking but walking enough to burn 400 calories a day, “The good news is small changes for all of us, things that take very little time and effort, like walking an extra 2,000 steps a day about 15 minutes can burn 100 calories.” Trimming 100 calories from what you normally eat each day can help, too. Skip the cheese on the cheeseburger, choose the low fat mayonnaise, eliminate one tablespoon of butter, ask for club soda instead of tonic water in cocktail, use non fat milk in your latte. What else does the slim set do to maintain their weight?
They Eat Until Satisfied Not Stuffed - Try putting your fork down halfway through a meal and ask yourself using a 1 to 10 scale, how full are you? Take a sip of water and think about it some more. Talk to your dining companions. You’ll give yourself time to gauge how hungry you really are and by eating slowly it allows the stomach time to trigger the brain’s sensation of fullness. A diet study conducted at the University of Rhode Island found that women consumed fewer calories and were more satisfied when they ate at a slower pace. Bottom line: By eating more slowly the women ate 70 calories less and said they enjoyed the meal more.
They Eat More Fruit and Vegetables - Bet you’re not surprised by this one! According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association healthy weight women eat one more serving of fruit and eat more fiber and less fat per day than overweight people.
And even though many people associate weight loss with high protein intake, the statistics from the successful dieters in the National Weight Control Registry don’t support the eat-all-the-steak-you-want diet. Their diets were on average 20% protein, 24% fat and 56% carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the best source of healthy carbs.
They Have a Plan and Stick to It - 78% of successful dieters in National Weight Control Registry ate breakfast every day. And- sorry to tell you this- they consistently monitor their food intake. According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine conducted by Dr. Rena Wing of Brown University, folks who lost weight and kept it off continued to be careful about consumption of lower calorie menu options and moderated their fat intake. Beth Weitzman, the uber busy editor in chief of Jezebel Magazine, works with a personal trainer to keep her focused on fitness and carefully edits her menu choices when dining out, “I order seafood and request that it be cooked clean (no butter, just lemon and or olive oil) and a side of steamed veggies with nothing on them. OK Cafe does a great job with this and their menu offers lots of great healthy options; as does Seasons 52.”
They’re Smart about Splurging. Whether it’s chocolate brownies, French fries or lasagna that you crave, realize you love these foods and allow yourself to enjoy them in sensible portions. Feel the textures and smell the aromas to help you feel more satisfied with a smaller portion. Registered dietitian, Allison Beadle says, “Tex Mex is my soul food so I have to find smart ways to save calories so I split chicken or beef fajitas with someone else, order pica de gallo to increase veggies and when I have to have cheese enchiladas, I just try to make sure that I’m totally in the moment and aware of what I’m eating—enjoying the decadent cheesiness as much as humanly possible!.” Then, you guessed it, she balances her indulgence with more exercise the next day.