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Posted: Monday, February 23, 2015

How to win at weight loss

How can you win at losing? It’s nearly a contradiction in terms. Still, people try every day to succeed – or win – at losing weight. For some, it’s easy. They step on the treadmill a few times a week, choose healthier foods and watch as their unwanted pounds fall right off. For others, losing weight takes commitment, diligence and willpower. For them, losing weight and keeping it off means completely changing their lifestyle, something that can be extremely difficult. It’s no wonder, then, that our culture is quick to jump on the latest diet craze or weight-loss trend. We’ll try almost anything to make winning at losing easier. One of our best metrics for how to succeed, though, is to look at the habits of people who have had success. For that, we turn to the National Weight Control Registry.

The National Weight Control Registry was established in 1994 to identify and study the characteristics of people who have lost weight and kept it off over time. “The Registry currently is tracking 5,000 people who have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for an average of five years or more,” Blount Memorial registered dietitian Angie Tillman explained. “These are people who have set their weight loss goals and achieved them, and we can look at their habits and methods for guidance in our own weight loss goals. For instance, a large percentage of successful losers eat breakfast every day. Numerous studies have shown that breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than people who skip breakfast. A healthy, balanced breakfast can set a good trend for good food choices throughout the rest of the day,” Tillman said. “As a general rule, you shouldn’t skip meals. Our bodies need consistent fuel intake throughout the day to perform at its best. Registry participants, on average, eat 4-5 smaller meals each day,” she added.

Tillman says Registry participants had other specific diet routines, as well. “Most Registry participants ate diets that were lower in fat,” she said. “This doesn’t mean ‘fat-free,’ but it definitely means fewer fried foods, fast foods, salad dressings, margarine and creamy sauces. For alternatives, consider healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocados and olives. Registry participants also eat more fruits and vegetables, which are higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals, but lower in calories. Overall, we all should be striving to eat balanced diets of healthy carbohydrates, protein and good fats,” Tillman said. “A lot of this can be accomplished by simply planning out our meals ahead of time. Lack of planning leads to less-healthy food choices, so take a few minutes before you go grocery shopping to think about what you’ll pack for lunch or snacks each day,” she added.

Weighing yourself also is a crucial part of weight loss for Registry participants, but you can overdo it. “To determine how well you’re doing at losing weight, you have to weigh yourself regularly,” Tillman said. “If you stop weighing yourself completely, it becomes very easy for a few extra pounds to turn into five or 10 pounds or more. Still, at the same time, you shouldn’t weigh yourself too often, as sometimes the immediate feedback from the scale doesn’t accurately reflect your true day-to-day progress,” she explained. “Remember, you should aim for reasonable weight loss of about 1 to 1.5 pounds each week. Research shows that slow and steady is the way to go,” she added.

Of course, no weight loss plan is likely to be complete without some form of exercise in the mix, something that is true among Registry participants. “You should do some aerobic exercise regularly,” Tillman said. “The most frequently reported activity among Registry participants is walking, but you also can jog, swim or cycle. Strength training also is important, as it helps maintain lean body mass, which boosts your metabolic rate. If you’re new to strength training, remember you always can seek the help of a qualified personal trainer,” she explained.

Losing weight and maintaining it is not easy, but the benefits are worthwhile. To help with this, the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center is preparing their spring “Winning at Weight Loss” class, set to begin Monday, March 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springrbook. “Winning at Weight Loss” is a 12-week weight management program led by registered dietitians and exercise physiologists who work with you on an individual and group basis to find the best strategies for your situation. Participants also will receive personalized nutrition and workout plans tailored to their needs. The weekly classes will focus on effective exercise options such as strength training, cardio intervals, power walking, BodyVive® and stretching, while also addressing healthy cooking strategies, emotional eating, stress management and long-term behavior change. For more information or to register, call 865-980-7110 or 865-980-7119.

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