Want to lose weight? Let's get personal!

Want to lose weight? Let's get personal!

You can't escape it! Every day we are bombarded with the "latest and greatest" diet trends, each claiming to provide amazing, and more often, unrealistic results. With 71% of Americans overweight or obese it's no wonder that the "weighty" business of weight loss has swelled to a $66.3 billion industry. But with all this money being thrown towards the diet du jour, why aren't people losing weight?! It turns out, many are, but not from a one-size-fits-all approach.

Most of us probably know the risks associated with excess body fat: heart disease, depression, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and fertility issues, to name a few. But many may not know that just a 10% reduction in body weight can significantly cut those risks and improve health. Moreover, working to achieve a healthy body weight may prove additionally beneficial, as obesity is now associated with more early, preventable deaths in the U.S. than smoking.

Most people are familiar with the traditional logic that weight loss is the result of burning more calories than consumed, which is an important component, but emerging research suggests that the composition of a person's diet, not just calorie deficit, influences weight reduction.

Every BODY is unique and reacts differently to weight loss approaches. Hence the reason that your neighbor lost 15 pounds on the Paleo diet, but you somehow managed to gain! When it comes down to it, the key to weight loss may be a highly personalized plan for the true blue, one-and-only you.

That's not to say there aren't key behaviors that can make weight loss less elusive. Cue the conception of the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a research study designed to track the strategies of successful long-term weight loss maintainers. Registry requirements include having lost 30+ pounds and keeping it off for a year or longer. Impossible you say? Tell that to the more than 10,000 registry members.

With an average weight loss of 66 lbs., these "losers" are definitely doing something right, though the research has found they go about it in different ways. However, there are some overarching similarities (hint: things you could try!). Most individuals made changes to their lifestyle, with 98% modifying their diet and 94% increasing their physical activity (mostly in the form of walking). Other key behaviors included:

  • Weighing in at least weekly (75%)
  • Watching fewer than ten hours of TV per week (62%)
  • Eating breakfast daily (78%)
  • Exercising daily for approximately one hour (90%)

This ongoing study also found that "morning people" tended to be more successful at weight loss and maintenance, as well as those who were intrinsically motivated by something other than the scale, such as spending more time with family or improving health. Another commonality among registry members:  most had tried AND failed at weight loss; however, through trial and error, found something that eventually worked for their unique body.

So what's the take home message? KEEP TRYING! Just because something didn't work for you in the past doesn't mean nothing will work in the future. There is no cookie cutter way to lose weight, but why not begin by taking some tips from the 10,000+ successful NWCR members. Another great step:  setting up a visit with a registered dietitian to help create a personalized plan just for you —because we can't all be morning people!



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