Congratulations! You've worked hard to take off that 10, 20 or more pounds that snuck up on you seemingly overnight. Maybe you've taken up exercise, sworn off the carbs, switched out full-fat ice cream for frozen yogurt or taped your mouth shut. Whatever it was, you worked hard and you should be proud of yourself.
And now … the hard work begins. What's that? Keeping the weight from ever crossing your path again. A dismal failure rate of 99 percent has been associated with that challenge. Truth is, many people focus more on the actual diet than with keeping the weight off for good. And when you consider the interplay of physiology and behavior, weight maintenance can be a tricky proposal.
If you're the type of person that likes to be in the majority, I've done you a favor. Even though new data from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) shows that there are people who have managed to lose at least 30 pounds and keep it off for a year or longer, here is how you can stay in the majority that hasn't managed that feat:
- Don't track your food intake. Why be accountable for what you're eating? It's easier to play a game of denial, I-don't-remember, out-of-sight-out-of-mind. After all, if you've eaten it and written it down, you actually have to be reminded that you quaffed three slices of blueberry pie or two heaping scoops of rocky road.
- Skip breakfast. You don't need the most important meal of the day. Why eat in the morning when it takes all your effort to gulp down some coffee and run out the door? You have way more important things to do than that. And on the importance scale, eating a meal that is shown to reduce your risk of diabetes and obesity is way low.
- Watch a LOT of television. Make sure to stay put during the commercials (instead of getting up to stretch or sneak in some quick exercise), which are a great reminder of things you haven't thought about eating but are now suddenly craving—those calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods that have taken up residence in your immediate-gratification wish list. Don't pay attention to the research that shows that adults consume more of both healthy and unhealthy snack foods following exposure to snack food advertising, whether or not they're even hungry. And while you're at it, grab a bag of crunchy, fatty snacks like chips or cookies to keep you company throughout your date with your couch.
- Eat out. Why cook for yourself and control what you eat and how it's cooked when you can sit, relax and let someone else decide how much and what kinds of creamy, calorie-dense concoctions you'll consume? And while you're at it, hit some fast-food places—an added plus, since your budget won't take as big a hit!
- Don't combine diet with exercise. It could make it easier to not only lose weight, but also maintain that loss. Who needs to spend time exercising when instead you can hit the snooze button and sneak in an extra 10 minutes of sleep instead of taking a quick 10-minute walk? You'll only forfeit 100 calories. And chances are that during the day, you wouldn't want to take a 10-minute break to do something as simple as walking up and down a flight of stairs. After all, why burn 100 calories if instead you can spend that time sitting with your feet up—or better yet, multitasking by reading a magazine and munching on a bag of your favorite chips.
- Don't weigh yourself regularly. Why get the bad news from a bunch of trivial numbers? Put the scale away. It's so much more fun to make a guessing game out of it. You wouldn't want to be in the 75 percent group of successful losers from the NWCR who weigh themselves at least once a week (or those who—gasp!—hit the scale daily) and have a built-in voice that warns, "Hey, you! Time to cut back on the calories." Who needs that obnoxious warning every time you see some digits?