If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss, certain habits may help you to succeed. A recent survey has identified some of the behaviors and strategies of people who have shed pounds and kept them off.
The survey was conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the results were published online in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. In the survey, the researchers asked whether the participants had tried to lose weight, and, if they had lost weight, whether they were able to keep it off. Of the roughly 4300 people who completed the survey, about 2,000 had tried to lose weight and keep it off. The researchers divided these people into two groups: those who managed to maintain weight loss, and those who didn’t maintain weight loss or didn’t lose weight in the first place. (Roughly one-third of the people were in the successful group, while the other two-thirds were in the unsuccessful group.) The researchers compared the groups’ answers to questions about diet, physical activity, and other factors.
There were some similarities between the two groups. Roughly the same percentage of people in each group tried the following strategies to control their weight: eating less food overall, eating more fruits and vegetables, eating smaller portions, cutting down on fatty foods, and cutting out sweetened drinks such as soft drinks.
There were also several differences. Compared to the unsuccessful group, the successful group had a higher proportion of people who added at least 30 minutes of exercise to their daily routine. The successful group also had a higher proportion of people who planned their meals, measured their portions, and counted calories and grams of fat. In addition, the people in the successful group were more likely to weigh themselves daily and less likely to use over-the-counter diet pills.
Certain factors made people less likely to lose weight or keep it off. These included not having time or energy to exercise, not having someone to exercise with, eating away from home often, eating junk food, finding healthy foods too expensive or unsatisfying, and not paying attention to diet.
Losing weight and keeping it off isn’t easy, but this study suggests that there are some things you can do—namely, making physical activity a daily habit, continuing to plan meals and watch portion sizes, and monitoring your weight regularly—to help yourself.