Odds of losing weight and keeping it off

by Kellie Dye

First, the bad news. There is a statistical quote that has been floating around the health care industry for decades. Here it is: 95 percent of dieters who lose weight will gain it back within two years or less. When it comes to weight loss, could there be a more depressing statistic? It’s not easy to trace that statistic back to any specific research.  

Now, for the good news, which is actually backed by research. There are people out there who have lost weight and kept it off.

The National Weight Control Registry includes more than 5,000 people who have lost weight and kept if off. You can check out their website at nwcr.ws. The average weight loss of this group is 66 pounds, and the average length of time that they have kept the weight off is 5.5 years. The weight loss ranges from 30 pounds all the way to 300 pounds. Here is what many of them had in common: eating breakfast every day, weighing once a week, watching less than 10 hours of TV per week and exercising an average of one hour per day. These listed habits should be turned into the next great diet program.

Here is what I know. If you lose weight too quickly, you will be much more likely to gain the weight back. Simply put, when you lose weight fast, your body doesn’t get a chance to adjust to its lower weight, and it will be clamoring to get back to its highest weight out of preservation.

Nature built that preservation mode into us. When you lose weight slowly, you give your body a chance to adjust and accept a lower weight. For greater long-term success, slow weight loss is often the best. The only exception can be for those who are morbidly obese with life threatening diseases such as uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension. In the case of morbid obesity, weight loss can be life saving.

Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Slow weight loss can take every ounce of patience, tenacity and perseverance. It’s especially challenging to keep the faith when you run into someone who is boasting about their latest greatest 60-pound weight loss in just three short months. These are the kind of people who will very likely gain the weight back. You probably know someone like this, and maybe you have even lost weight quickly from a fad diet or low calorie diet program. If it is a short-term program, then your weight loss will most likely be short term.  

The chances of keeping the weight off increase significantly if you lose at a rate of 1/2-2 pounds per week or slower, exercise regularly and are able to maintain an eating plan as a part of your lifestyle. For long-term success, it’s all about the tortoise.