Some good news on the weight-loss front. Even if you've been a total flop before — regaining all the weight you lost and 10 pounds on top of that — you can be a dieting success.
"There's hope for all those people who have tried to lose weight and have not achieved long-term success," says J. Graham Thomas, who has studied the habits of "successful losers" through the National Weight Control Registry at Brown University Medical School (nwcr.ws).
Thomas studied the habits of some 6,000 adults who had lost 30 pounds or more and maintained the loss for at least one year. Nine out of ten of these success stories had a previous history of losing weight and putting it back on.
So, how did they take it off for good?
Writing in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal, Thomas boiled it down to "Seven Habits of Successful Weight Loss Maintainers."
1. Physical activity: Engaging in 200 minutes a week (average 29 minutes a day) of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking.
2. Limit TV watching to under 10 hours a week (vs. 28 hours a week for the average American).
3. A low-calorie, low-fat diet with less than 30 percent of the calories from fat; use low-fat versions of dairy, dressings and sauces and artificial sweeteners such as diet soda instead of regular.
4. Consistency — relatively little food variety and the same pattern daily; no splurging.
5. Eat breakfast — but not high-fat bacon and eggs — to help curb hunger and prevent overeating later.
6. Avoid emotional eating and gorging; fast food meals limited to less than one weekly (compared with 2 to 3 for average Americans).
7. Monitor yourself. Weigh yourself weekly, track calories and/or fat grams; the Internet and smart phone apps make this much easier.
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