For most of us, managing and maintaining our weight is an ongoing battle.
Just when we’ve dropped those last five pounds and we can finally fit into our skinny jeans again, the lines blur between weight loss and weight maintenance.
But rather than huff and puff and feel helpless, there’s comfort in knowing that we’re not alone in the tug-of-war.
According to researchers from Penn State University, the behaviors and strategies we employ to lose weight don’t much overlap with the strategies necessary to maintain one’s new shape.
The team investigated whether two distinct sets of thought patterns and behaviors were associated with weight loss, and weight-loss maintenance. They found that the two are distinctly different and being successful in both weight loss and maintaining one’s weight could require completely separate actions and mindsets.
“Using a random phone survey of 1,165 adults, they found that there was little agreement between the two. Those who used a consistent exercise routine or ate plenty of low-fat sources of protein were more likely to report weight-loss maintenance, not weight loss. And those who reported doing different kinds of exercises or planning meals ahead of time, for example, were more likely to report weight loss but not weight-loss maintenance,” according to a release on the study.
While there certainly has been some focus and attention given to the two distinct styles of managing one’s weight, Beth Kitchin – assistant professor of nutrition sciences at University of Alabama at Birmingham – said there needs to be more focus on the maintenance of weight over time.
"We definitely need more research to look at the different methods used by people who lost weight," she said. "We need to look at different strategies to see what works over the long run. We spend so much time talking about weight loss and don't really focus on weight maintenance,” Kitchin said.
"When we get to where we want to maintain, the mindset changes. Some struggle with adding more calories back in, and learning how to eat foods that may not have been on their diet plan."