I just love all the wisdom that comes out this time of the year about ‘keeping the weight off.’ Mostly because it’s so transparent. After all, where would the diet industry be without people gaining that weight back?
And the fact is, people usually do gain it back. (And then some, more often than not.)
But lucky for us, a few fancy researchers at Stanford University have come up with a “new” approach to addressing this problem.
The approach, according to reports, is “based on the idea that maintaining weight loss may require a whole different set of skills than losing weight.” (I wonder which genius thought up that groundbreaking idea?)
So in order to test out this “novel” concept, these brainiacs developed a set of so-called “stability skills” to see if it would help with long-term weight management.
These skills included:
- Learning to rely on low-fat and low-calorie food to satisfy cravings and avoid deprivation. (A good idea, except that low-fat, low-calorie “diet” food rarely serves this purpose. How about teaching people to identify foods with the right nutrients to satisfy hunger naturally and effortlessly?)
- Learning to save high-fat, high-calorie foods for the occasional “treat.” (What, are we children now?)
- Weighing yourself daily to monitor your body’s natural day-to-day fluctuations. (For the record, this is a ridiculous–not to mention demoralizing–thing to do. And it tells you absolutely nothing about your maintenance success.)
- Identifying how factors like water retention and overeating on vacations and holidays can affect your weight by as much as 5 pounds. (I often warn about the snowball effect of “holiday” eating.)
- Minimizing weight gain during these high-risk times by proactively trying to lose 5 pounds before vacations or holidays. (This is the holiday challenge I issue to my patients every year.)
- Proactively eating more and gaining a little weight when your weight reaches the lower limit of your personal 5 pound range. (Yes, let’s eat more because we wouldn’t want to get too thin, now would we? Please.)
Anyway, it appears that women who learned these “stability skills” gained back an average of only three pounds. Women who didn’t, on the other hand, gained closer to 7 pounds.
Do they want a Nobel Prize for those revolutionary findings? Because to be honest, I’m just not impressed.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why long-term weight management remains such a problem. It’s because people think there is a beginning and an end to dieting.
I’ve had the maintenance conversation with my patients many times over now. And the biggest question on everyone’s lips is always, “When can I go back to eating pasta (or bagels, or potato chips, or…)?”
It’s disappointing. I mean, if eating spaghetti was a successful dieting strategy, you wouldn’t be here in the first place, would you?
Like it or not, “dieting” is for life. And yes, it is hard sometimes.
Sometimes we just have to face the truth that we can’t eat the foods we love. As my mother always used to say: “You can do as bad as you want, but never for as long as you want.”
The solution to this problem? Find other foods that you love. I know that I have–and I attribute a lot of my success at keeping the weight off to this change.
I’m thin because I don’t just eat whatever I want. And I’m often angry about it, just like everyone else.
But I’ve learned that my brain is not the best organ in my body to tell me what to eat. I have learned to listen to my stomach, instead. It knows when it’s full.
And it knows exactly how to function when I have fed it all the right things.
At the end of the day, attitude changes are just as important as any menu changes you make. This lifestyle shift lies at the heart of my New Hamptons Health Miracle. And it’s why I’m always telling you not to go on a diet.
Anyone can lose the weight. It’s keeping it off–once and for all–that’s the real “miracle.”
Dieting Results Persist if Weight Maintenance Taught First. Medscape. Oct 30, 2012.
Promoting Healthy Weight With “Stability Skills First”: A Randomized Trial. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2012 Oct 29. [Epub ahead of print]