Each year, an estimated 45 million people will go on a diet, spending nearly $33 billion on weight-loss products.
And yet, the disturbing trend remains: Nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.
Research demonstrates that only about 10 percent to 20 percent are able to maintain a weight loss of about 5 percent. Sadly, nearly 97 percent of dieters will either regain the weight they lost or gain even more than that within three years.
Something's wrong somewhere.
The lament of so many dieters is that it's not as hard to lose the weight as it is to keep it off.
Rather than concentrate on how to lose weight—just about any diet will help you do that—maybe it's time to figure out how to make all that effort stick. Losing weight takes effort, but keeping it off takes mindfulness.
The hardest part of weight loss might be easier than you think.
Get enough sleep. There's scientific evidence that shows a link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. That's because when you don't get enough sleep, the hunger hormone ghrelin increases, and the hormone that signals you are full, leptin, decreases. Read more about how much sleep you need.
Get enough exercise. Regular physical activity, research shows, will increase the likelihood that you'll maintain your weight loss. That doesn't mean you have to go all-out at the gym, either: Any exercise is better than none. Walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, fitness classes all count. So does gardening or dancing—just about anything that gets your heart pumping counts. Just move. (Of course, the more you move, the more calories you'll burn.) The main idea here is to make physical activity a regular, rather than once-in-a-while, part of your life.
Though the exact amount needed varies for each person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-aerobic activity or a mixture of the two each week.
Step away from the TV. This might be a tough one. There's so much good stuff on that it's likely you can't even get to all you want to watch. But television-watching can put on the pounds in sneaky ways that you might not even realize. For one, you plop down with a bag of snacks and get immersed in the show—mindless snacking ensues and before you know it, that bag is history. Or, you try to do double-duty and catch up on the evening news while eating dinner; chances are you won't even know that you've eaten or you'll miss the cues that you're full. And unless you're watching TV while you're on the treadmill or another cardio machine, you're sitting—and sitting doesn't exactly burn a lot of calories. In fact, researchers find that engaging in any "sedentary" activity puts you at an increased risk for weight-related diseases like diabetes and other health risks like heart disease and early death.
(Tip: Break up all the sitting and watch TV while you're standing, doing jumping jacks or push-ups. Added bonus: It'll keep you from nodding off, too!)
Be boring. Some people might not like this idea, but it can really work. Research finds that when people are fed the same food five days in a row, they eat less than when they are served the same food once a week. Eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day can help fight the urge to overeat and overindulge, and take the guesswork out of what to eat. It can save money and time, too. Of course, you can be more creative at dinnertime; just don't forget to keep portions and calories in mind.
Use your intuition. Most of us are born with the tools to do this, but we lose the freedom to carry it with us, as we age, for various reasons. Trust yourself to know when you're hungry and know when you're full; waiting to eat until you're excessively hungry will only lead to overeating. Intuitive eating is about honoring your feelings and realizing that when you eat what you really want, you'll be satisfied; deprivation leads to uncontrollable cravings.