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."
The adults surveyed for this study were asked about 36 strategies they might think about and do to accomplish losing the pounds and keeping them off. Researchers noted that “fourteen of the strategies were associated with either successful weight loss or successful maintenance, but not both, and the overlap between practices was not much higher than expected by chance."
The researchers found that strategies associated only with weight loss included:
> Participating in a diet program
> Looking for information about weight loss, nutrition or exercise
> Limiting sugar intake
> Planning meals beforehand
> Avoiding skipped meals
> Thinking about how much better you feel when you are thinner
Strategies associated only with weight-loss maintenance included:
> Eating plenty of low-fat protein
> Following a consistent exercise routine
> Rewarding yourself for sticking to your eating plan
> Reminding yourself why you need to control your weight
The researchers concluded that diet programs may need to guide participants differently to handle each specific phase and that more attention should be paid to the maintenance of weight over time.
Losing Weight, Keeping It Off Can Be Two Different Worlds
Weight Control Information Network
Reviewed July 11, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton
Bailey Mosier is a freelance journalist living in Orlando, Florida. She received a Masters of Journalism from Arizona State University, played D-I golf, has been editor of a Scottsdale-based golf magazine and currently contributes to GolfChannel.com. She aims to live an active, healthy lifestyle full of sunshine and smiles.