As you have probably heard a thousand times, a diet is only good if you stick with it. And the data supports this entirely. In fact, Traci Mann, a UCLA psychologist, found that more than 80 percent of people followed for at least two years gained back more weight than they lost*… and this was for successful dieters!
This is due to some hormonal problems you are now aware of - and basic human nature! We are creatures of habit, and if we don’t create success rituals it becomes really hard to get rid of old habits.
However, there is hope. Below are two of the best research backed methods for staying on track and making weight loss permanent.
Keep a Food Diary
Keeping a food diary can double a person's weight loss, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research**. The findings, from one of the largest and longest running weight loss maintenance trials ever conducted, are something to take seriously.
"The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost," said lead author Jack Hollis Ph.D., a researcher at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon. "Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories."
"Keeping a food diary doesn't have to be a formal thing. Just the act of scribbling down what you eat on a Post-It note, sending yourself e-mails tallying each meal, or sending yourself a text message will suffice. It's the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior," says Keith Bachman, MD, a Weight Management Initiative member.
And now that most phones have cameras, I have found that taking pictures of every meal and then uploading them daily to be highly effective.
Measure Your Results
Study after study suggests that those who weigh themselves more frequently are more successful at losing and maintaining their weight loss.
The National Weight Control Registry, a database of members who have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept the weight off for nearly 6 years, shows one positive habit - 75% of those in the Registry weigh themselves at least one time each week.
And the participants who weighed themselves daily did even better over the long term.
I recommend you weigh yourself daily. This way you will “catch” when your weight starts to go up or is not moving.
Make sure you weigh yourself at the same time every day to establish a ritual… the best time is in the morning right after you wake up and go to the bathroom.
Then chart this in your journal next to your food entries or picture library.
Remember that you will have normal daily fluctuations and also that the scale does not register the ratio between muscle and fat. For this you can get a body fat scale or use a tape measure once a week to check your waist and thigh area.
The main thing is to create these rituals... this is what people who lose weight permanently do, so you might benefit as well.
*Mann, T., Tomiyama, A.J., Westling, E., Lew, A., Samuels, B., & Chatman, J. (2007). Medicare's search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. American Psychologist, 62, 220-233.
**Kaiser Permanente (July 8, 2008). Keeping A Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss, Study.