Sustainability, The Holy Grail         Have you ever felt that despite your best efforts, the scale continues to creep higher? Why is it so challenging to achieve permanent weight loss?

One study published in The Lancet Medical Journal seeks to explain how body weight can slowly rise even when people have not changed their eating and exercise habits. According to the research data, it’s easy to gain weight unknowingly from a very small imbalance in the number of calories consumed over calories used. Just an extra 10 calories a day is all it takes to raise the body weight of the average person by 20 pounds over 30 years, the authors wrote.

The study also suggests that a weight loss model for lasting results is a two pronged approach with more aggressive change in behavior. This is followed by a 2nd phase of a more relaxed but permanent behavioral change that is targeted to prevent the weight regain that affects so many dieters despite their best intentions.

Within my base of clients, I would agree that the two-pronged approach works best. When I first meet someone whose main goal is to lose weight, we start with gathering data in the form of a food journal or apps on their phones to capture food intake. Apps such as, My Fitness Pal, or Loose It are popular choices. Combing through the dietary intake allows us to identify how to cut 250 calories a day. That is our goal. And then we add daily exercise of 30-45 minutes into a day’s schedule.

For some, these two steps represents an aggressive change in behavior and it requires prioritizing food choices and time for fitness. For others, it needs to be more convenient, which translates to my providing them with a menu of exactly what and how much to eat on a daily basis. And taking them through one-on-one exercise sessions several times a week.  We establish a routine for Phase One and work it until we get results. This is short term.

Deducting 250 calories and adding exercise to an already busy life is just the beginning. The deeper challenge is Phase Two: the long-term sustainable weight-loss program. It’s a way of thinking. A way of living life for the good of one’s health. This is long term.

Here are my top 12 strategies for sustainable long-term weight management:

  1. Dessert? 1x/wk and only ½ of what you think is a reasonable portion
  2. Cook at home as often as possible
  3. Exercise continuously for 30-45 minutes each day
  4. Identify acceptable portions for meals and snacks & stick to it
  5. Include protein at every meal and snack
  6. Exercise as early in the day as possible
  7. Order from restaurant menus but eat only half the entrée,  save the rest for lunch the next day
  8. Select low-fat, lean food choices and eat leafy greens every day
  9. Sugar content should be a single-digit number in grams
  10. Take steps instead of elevators whenever available
  11. Eat beans and fish at a minimum of weekly
  12. Wear a pedometer and track your steps aiming for 10,000 a day

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s