Lasting and long term weight loss may seem like an uphill battle, but it is possible. Here's what we know works, from research on long-term losers:

If you've ever dropped pounds and then tried to maintain your weight, you've probably blamed yourself when the number on the scale started creeping back up. With enough resolve, shouldn't you be able to avoid regain? Well, emerging research shows that faulty willpower is not the main culprit. "Multiple systems in your body conspire against you in a push to regain lost weight," explains Michael Rosenbaum, MD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and a top obesity researcher. After you've slimmed down, your brain, muscles and hormones work together to slow down your metabolism, so you naturally burn hundreds of fewer calories each day. In fact, Rosenbaum's research reveals that people who've lost weight require 400 fewer calories per day to keep the scale steady compared with people who never went through a slim down.  Fortunately, there are proven ways to counteract these pound-hoarding tendencies.  "It's not a losing battle," stresses Holly Wyatt, MD, associate director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, Denver.  "You can keep the weight off for the long run."  By analyzing data from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) - a database of more than 10,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept them off for a minimum of one year - experts have discovered strategies that work, many of them quite different from the ones that help take off pounds in the first place.  "Losing weight and maintaining it are really two different animals," Dr. Wyatt notes.  Mastering the art of maintenance is the key to making sure your goal weight turns into your new normal.

Success Secret #3
It's well established that following a Mediterranean-style diet - which is high in fresh fruits and vegetable, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and healthy fats like those in fish and olive oil - is good for your heart, but it turns out it may also be vital to fighting the metabolism slowdown that follows weight loss. A study from Harvard University shows that eating this type of food, which is low on the glycemic index (a measure of how quickly certain foods are digested and how much tey make your blood sugar spike), can help keep energy levels elevated, so you naturally burn 20% more calories over the course of a day than you would following a low-fat diet.  "Eating Mediterranean eliminates those wild swings in blood sugar that can ultimately undermine your metabolism," says study author David Ludwig, MD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital.  The best part: It's not a diet, but rather a balanced, realistic way of eating which makes it, as Dr. Ludwig says, "easy to follow for the rest of your life."

Success Secret #4
Regular weigh-ins may have been a mainstay when you were in reduction mode, but this habit is just as critical after you've hit your goal.  National Weight Control Registry research found that dieters who stopped using the scale as a check-in tool gained back two times as much weight as those who kept monitoring their size. "You can't stay in a healthy range if you don't know what your numbers are," Dr. Wyatt points out.  Numbers don't lie, so establish a "red zone" - a weight you find unacceptable.  If you reach that number, or slip above it, it's time to go back to some of the stricter diet controls (such as cutting down on calories and measuring out proper portions) that helped you downsize in the first place.  "Most people naturally fluctuate by a few pounds here or there, but if you notice your numbers creeping above your red line, you have to snap back into active weight loss mode," says Dr. Wyatt. When you get back to your "green zone," you can relax... a bit.


Source: Alyssa Shaffer

Susan Arruda