I have very little interest these days in all the media-hyped stories of dramatic, rapid losses of body weight. That doesn’t impress me, for numerous reasons. For example,
weight is not fat. “weight” could be composed of mostly lean
tissue, or it could be mostly water weight. In fact, I would even go a step further and point out that rapid loss of bodyweight correlates very highly with a greater chance of relapse, weight re-gain and long term failure.
So what does impress me? What gets my attention?…
I pay attention to what the “long term maintainers” have to
say - those are the people who have maintained an ideal weight for over a year…
preferably even 2-5 years or more.
Mike Ogorek is a successful maintainer, having lost
137 pounds and kept it off now for nearly 2 years
The difference between losers and maintainers
As I was researching this subject of long term maintenance
recently, I was surprised at the huge amount of research
that’s already been done in this area.
One paper that caught my interest was published by Judy Kruger and
colleauges in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and
Physical Activity, titled,
“Dietary and physical activity behaviors among adults successful
at weight Loss maintenance.”
This was not an experimental study, but a compilation of data from
the “Styles survey” which was representative of the US population
and asked respondents questions about strategies to aid with
maintaining an ideal weight.
In this particular survey, only one-third (30.96%) or the respondents said they were
successful at keeping their weight off. The researchers wanted to
know the difference between the small group that was successful
and the majority that were not.
There were a lot of similarities among maintainers and non maintainers:
Both groups reduced the amount of food they consumed, they ate
smaller portions, more fruits and vegetables, fewer fatty foods
and fewer sweetened beverages.
Not really any surprises there, but what we want to know most
is not what losers and maintainers have in common, but what the
maintainers did that the losers didn’t.
four major differences emerged:
A significantly higher proportion of successful maintainers reported
exercising 30 minutes or more daily, and they also reported adding
other physical activity (recreation, sports, physical work, etc) to
their daily schedules.
Lifting weights was also a distinguishing factor between groups
as substantially more successful maintainers included weight
training in their exercise regimens than did the losers.
“Reducing sedentary activities” was also a significant
difference between those who successfully maintained and those who
did not (less TV watching, etc).
Many things are hotly debated among obesity and exercise science researchers today, but just about
everyone agrees that exercise is critical for long term maintenance.
The next big difference that separated the successful maintainers from
the unsuccessful was in their “self-monitoring behaviors” including:
- tracking calories
- tracking body weight
- planning meals
- tracking fat
- measuring amount of food on plate
Similar results have been found by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR),
another group of successful maintainers.
Unfortunately, these types of self monitoring behaviors, especially weighing
and measuring food, planning meals on paper and counting calories, are
among the most avoided or even criticized techniques. Some “experts” even
claim that it’s unnecessary to count calories, track results, weigh yourself
or measure and weigh your food.
However, these self monitoring behaviors are being identified more and more frequently as part of
“the difference that makes the difference.” I agree, as they have always
played a major role in my own Burn The Fat program
A fourth and final difference was that people who reported
self-perceived “barriers” to their success were 48-76% less
likely to be a successful maintainer.
For example, they said they had no time to exercise, they were too
tired to exercise or it was too hard to maintain an exercise routine.
(I interpret this as: unsuccessful maintainers were excuse makers!)
Based on these findings (and the previous research confirmed by
these findings), here are…
THE TOP 4 STRATEGIES TO BE A SUCCESSFUL MAINTAINER
1. Increase activity, including formal exercise as well as sports,
physical work or recreational activity.
2. Include weight training as part of your formal exercise program
3. Track and monitor everything - count and track calories and nutrients,
measure your food portion sizes, plan your meals and menus in writing and
monitor your body weight.
4. Avoid excuses and maintain positive beliefs and attitudes towards your
environment and what you perceive as “barriers” (for example, “I can always
make time for what is most important to me” versus, “I don’t have time to
If you’re currently engaged in the fat loss journey, and you want to
know how good your odds are for being a successful maintainer, it’s
pretty easy to predict using these simple guidelines.
If you’re not using all 4 of these strategies yet, then when today would
be a good time to start?
There are limitations to survey results such as these, including the fact
that they are cross sectional, and therefore cannot prove causality.
However, I believe these findings are important and significant.
Not only do they match previous similar studies and agree with the findings
of the NWCR, I found that these results match precisely what I’ve seen
among my most successful “Burn The Fat” clients.
THIS is the type of advice I’d suggest you listen to the most: Advice
about how to lose bodyFAT (not bodyWEIGHT) and how to maintain an ideal bodyweight and body composition over the long haul, not how
to lose it as fast as possible.
In closing, I’d urge you to consider the words of EM Gray,
who in “The Common Denominator Of Success” wrote:
“The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that
successful people are willing to do what the unsuccessful people are
Train hard and expect success,
Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
Fat Loss Coach
About Fitness Coach, Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer, certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book in Internet history, "Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle. Tom has written hundreds of articles and been featured in IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development and Mens Exercise. To get more information about Tom's e-book about natural fat loss, visit the home page at: www.BurnTheFat.com
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