This session was on Friday, August 16th and was lead by Eliza Kingsford, MA, LPC, Clinical Director of Wellspring Health. She’s also been featured on Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil (whoa).
First I want to say this session was totally not about what I thought it was about. But…it was awesome.
She started by telling us about the National Weight Control Registry. This effort, started in 1994 by Drs. Rena Wing and James Hill, both of the University of Colorado, is the largest investigation into long-term successful weight maintenance. Check out the website. It’s actually pretty cool.
For our purposes, Ms. Kingsford outlined a few habits of people who successfully maintain weight loss (for 2+ years). Like did you know:
- 78% of successful weight loss maintainers eat breakfast every day?
- 75% of them weigh themselves at least once a week?
- 90% exercise at least an hour a day?
Nik interpretation: a successful maintainer is engaged in their health. BUT, Kingsford points out that they also see their process in a very specific way as well. Maintainers:
- tend to think of themselves as living a healthy lifestyle not as being on a diet.
- as such, they accept that stalls are a part of the process. They look at the long-term span of weight loss over day-to-day fluctuations.
- they tended to have started by making just one healthy lifestyle change. Once they got that down, they added another and another.
Nik interpretation: a successful maintainer has realistic expectations and a sustainable plan.
According to Kingsford, some key parts of successful maintenance are:
- self-monitoring (logging your food intake, your exercise)
- positive coping (learning alternate ways to deal with life’s ups and downs)
- social support (healthy people who hang with healthy people tend to stay healthier longer)
- and stress management
To successfully lose and maintain, Kingsford says, you must recognize there is a problem then accept the nature of the problem (Did you gain because you are eating too much? Too much of the wrong things? Other factors?) then develop a plan but, more importantly, develop “stick-to-it-ness.” (Or, a sustainable plan that you can stick to and progress from.)
She gave some practical advice on setting yourself up for long-term success. One of the recurring themes throughout the presentation was about setting S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals. I want to digress for a moment to emphasize the importance of this! Put your goals against that measure and you’ll begin to see why some of your goals simply don’t work. For instance, consider the following goal:
Goal: I’m going to become more active.
Ok, how exactly do you measure that? And how do you know you completely got to where you want to be?
Now consider this goal.
Goal: I’m going to walk for 30 minutes three times a week.
That’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal. Why is this important? Because we sometimes have a hard time accepting both when we are and when we aren’t measuring up to our expectations. Being specific helps you achieve success and success builds upon success. That being said, let’s return to Kingsford’s tips.
- Have a realistic weight goal. You are NOT the BMI (Body Mass Index). What’s the right weight for YOUR body?
- Accept stalls and plateaus. They are a part of the process. If you are living a healthy lifestyle (versus working toward a specific numerical weight loss goal) you will be motivated to keep up your healthy lifestyle in the face of a stall.
- Plan both for success and damage control. That means that, yes, sometimes you will mess up. But you can’t let that make you give up or descend into a free-fall of bad decision making. You have to press on!
Lastly I want to leave you with a sage piece of advice she gave. Our relationship with food was learned. That means it can also be un-learned. We can create new habits. But it takes work. And time. And patience. Setting yourself up with unrealistic goals only shoots you in the foot in the long run. So examine your goals and habits. Are you pushing harder than you know you can in the long-term? Do you have an all or nothing attitude. You might want to change that. The National Weight Control Registry shows us evidence that those processes do. Not. WORK!