by Kirk Hamilton, PA-C
Americans lose a lot of weight. But most don’t keep it off. Why is it so hard to achieve successful weight loss?
According to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), almost 70% of Americans are overweight, obese or extremely obese. While it is fine to come up with new theories, programs or fads to lose weight, I believe in studying successful people who have maintained the weight loss to teach us how to keep it off.
The National Weight Control Registry , established in 1994, is the largest investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. The NWCR is tracking over 10,000 individuals 18 years of age or older who have lost at least 30 pounds and maintain the weight loss for one year or longer.
Successful Weight Loss Characteristics
- 80% of persons in the registry are women and 20% are men
- The “average” woman is 45 years of age and currently weighs 145 lbs, while the “average” man is 49 years of age and currently weighs 190 lbs
- Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years
- 45% of Registry participants lost the weight on their own and the other 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program
- 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight
- 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking
There is variety in how NWCR members keep the weight off. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity, plus:
- 78% eat breakfast every day.
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.
For Successful Weight Loss Kirk Suggests:
- Weigh yourself 1-2 times DAILY. It’s not about self-judgement, it’s about seeing how your environment affects your weight. It’s educational and keeps you from living in denial.
- Television watching for hours, or sedentary time while working on the computer or internet are “death” to your weight loss success. I tell television watchers to get on ‘your machine’ for at least 1/2 hour, preferably an hour, during your favorite television program EVERY DAY. Or, every half hour get up and exercise for 5 minutes. I highly recommend Tony Horton’s 10 Minute Trainer if you say you have ‘no time.’ I just started doing it and the “10 Minute Yoga” routine has been a life saver for me! I don’t have a weight problem, but I use it to get short workouts into my busy day.
- Get your fats in whole foods – beans, nuts and seeds mainly. Don’t add fat to your diet in the form of free oils (or butter). Keep other oils to a minimum.
- Have a HUGE salad as a main meal daily. Include a variety of greens, vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts and seeds. No creamy, cheesy or oil-based dressings!
- Eat a diet of unprocessed food and micronutrient dense foods to reduce Toxic Hunger. and allow for real hunger to guide your eating and weight maintenance.
- Pick the foods off the BED Diet. Eat for a month to eliminate common allergens.
- Focus on eating more GOOD food, than focusing on eating less BAD food. Your weight loss diet should really become your maintenance diet.
- Accountability and support are critical for most people. Have a buddy or group that supports you staying on the program.
- Seek additional books and resources on weight loss and maintenance. My favorite book is Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD.
About Kirk Hamilton
Kirk Hamilton graduated from the University of California, Davis Physician’s Assistant Program through their Department of Family Practice in 1983.
Since 1986 he has been a practicing Physician’s Assistant at Health Associates Medical Group in Sacramento, California, a nutrient oriented general practice. Kirk has worked in a variety of practice specialties including: Family Practice, Nutrition, Prevention, Cardiology, Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement, Allergy, Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine.
About Kirk’s Book
Staying Healthy in the Fast Lane simplifies the causes and effects of modern chronic diseases by outlining the five dietary changes over the last century that have led to excess calorie consumption, and along with reduced physical activity, have resulted in the epidemics of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.