Losing weight is a long process. You may not see results in a day, or even a week. Most people notice changes in the fourth week. However, weight-watchers will tell you that the most challenging aspect of losing weight is not shedding off the pounds, but keeping them off.
To lose weight and keep it off, you need to make permanent changes to your lifestyle. According to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), 98 percent of people who have lost weight and kept it off changed their eating habits, while 94 percent intensified their physical activity, particularly walking.
The NWCR is a study of people who have lost at least 30 pounds (13.6kg) of weight. To join in the study, one needs to have kept the weight off for at least a year. Currently, over 10,000 people are enrolled in the study.
Following are changes you need to make to lose weight and make sure you don't regain it.
1.Stay away from fad diets
A fad diet is a diet you cannot sustain in your normal life. Ask yourself, "Can I stick to this diet for the rest of my life?" According to research presented in 2016 to the Endocrine Society, within two years, some 18 to 30 percent of dieters regain more than half of the weight they lost. Why? They lost the weight using a "diet."
- Use smaller utensils
Eyes play tricks. The same amount of food looks little on a large plate but enough on a small plate. The size of a plate influences how much food you eat. People tend to fill a plate and to eat all the food on it, leading to overeating.
In a study associated with Cornell University, nutritionists served themselves 31 percent more ice cream when provided with larger bowls, and 14.5 percent more when given larger serving spoons. Interestingly, they did not even realize it.
So, eat from a small plate, and use small serving spoons.
- Let your plate guide you on portion size
Serve your meals using the following as a rough guide:
- Half of the plate for vegetables and salads
- A quarter of the plate for high-quality proteins
- A quarter of the plate for complex carbohydrates (starchy vegetables and whole grains).
This is just a rough guide. The amount you serve will depend on your individual needs.
- Ask for half portion at restaurants
Restaurants typically serve more food than you'd serve at home. To get around this, you can order from the children's menu or share a meal between two. Alternatively, you could order a side instead of the main dish, or a starter and forego the main dish.
Another way to counter restaurant portions is to limit eating out. NWCR participants eat only 2.5 meals a week at eateries. Even more telling, they eat a mere 0.74 meals a week at fast-food restaurants.
- Eat breakfast
According to the NWCR, members who have lost weight and kept it off eat breakfast every day. The jury is still out on the role of breakfast in weight loss. However, for many, breakfast is beneficial because it reduces hunger and the possibility of unhealthy eating later in the day.
- Weigh yourself regularly
Seventy-five percent of the NWCR members check the weighing scales at least once a week. It's important to monitor your weight regularly. When you track your success, you are encouraged to stick to your weight control program.
- Cut down on TV
The successful weight watchers are no couch potatoes. It emerges that 62 percent of them view less than 10 hours of TV per week. This is against an American national average of 28 hours per week. Watching TV is a passive pastime that may even encourage mindless eating.
- Be active
Ninety percent of NWCR members exercise for about an hour a day. To lose weight and keep it off, you need to be active.
Walk whenever you can. Instead of driving to work daily, take public transport twice or thrice a week. The walk to the bus stop or train station will help you burn calories. A 2014 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study found that those who take public transport are slimmer than those who drive.
- Schedule time for exercise:
Set time aside for exercise, no matter what. Make exercise part of your life, like, for instance, brushing your teeth. If you're away from home and your morning routine is disrupted, wake up half an hour earlier or schedule time in the evening for your workout.
Do aerobic, resistance, and strength training exercises. Aerobic exercises decrease the risk of heart disease, help in controlling blood sugar levels, and improve lung function, among other benefits. Strength and resistance training, on the other hand, boosts your metabolism by replacing flab with hard muscle.
To lose weight and keep it off, you need to make some permanent lifestyle changes. You then need to incorporate these changes into your life. If you cannot make these changes part of your life, it won't work because you will go back to "normal" and regain all the weight you've lost.