Evidence very clearly shows that short-term weight loss strategies, often involving eating less and exercising more without addressing root cause, aka 'crash dieting'. will create weight loss. However, 80% of those who lose weight will regain weight (and then some) within just one year and up to 95% will rebound within three years. That's not healthy!
If you want to know the secrets to long-term, sustainable and healthy weight-loss then here they are:
One: Find out and treat the root cause for the original weight gain. In case you missed it, I wrote about the many possible causes for stagnant weight on the blog recently, so please catch up here. If you haven't identified your root cause then working one on one with a practitioner, such as a degree qualified Nutritionist or holistic GP, needs to be your first step.
Two: Learn from those who've successfully maintained weight loss. In 2021 a large scale systematic review of over 294 people uncovered exactly what it takes to maintain weight loss. Those who were successful had a few commonalities, which included:
Continuous monitoring . The theme of continuous monitoring was most consistently mentioned throughout all studies included in the review. This was divided into both self-monitoring and external monitoring and study participants consistently stated that having clear monitoring tools in place for both weight loss and weight loss management were what kept them on-track, aware and accountable.
Self monitoring. This includes being mindful of portion size, being mindful of calorie content, meal planning ahead of time and also looking at restaurant menus ahead of time.
Motivation (intrinsic). As it turns out, establishing a source of motivation other than 'because my Nutritionist said so' or 'because I want to weigh less' is really important. I personally recommend taking time to assess what weight loss would feel like. Would it equate to more energy, being able to enjoy time with the family, being free of injury, being free of disease risk and premature ageing. Get clear on why you want to lose weight, how it will make you feel and make it meaningful.
Goal Setting. Rather than making the goal outcome orientated, set goals around behaviours that will support long term success. Great examples include committing to creating a meal plan each week for three months, committing to an appointment with yourself or your Nutritionist each month, committing to exercise five times a week for three months or going back to get blood testing three months after embarking on your root cause approach.
Enduring challenges. There is absolutely no doubt about it, life will happen and there will be road humps and bumps along the away including stress, major life events and times of routine change (e.g. school holidays). How you choose to navigate these times will determine your long term success. I can guarantee, working on behaviour changes rather than outcomes will help you in enduring the challenges.
Now I know these aren't in fact secrets at all, it's plain old common sense. Common sense that often gets overlooked, especially if your only source for weight loss or health advice is the weight loss coach on Instagram who insists that all you need to do is eat less and exercise more.
If you would like assistance with self monitoring, enduring challenges and goal setting then you might benefit from Mind Body Makeover. A premium four or six month weight loss program. Provides top level support, accountability and structure for the journey to achieving your ultimate body composition goals. Learn more here.
Spreckley M, Seidell J, Halberstadt J. Perspectives into the experience of successful, substantial long-term weight-loss maintenance: a systematic review. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2021 Dec;16(1):1862481. DOI: 10.1080/17482631.2020.1862481.