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Are you a "maintainer" or a "relapser"?

The great American pastime, taking off weight, puts enough strain on most of us who engage in it, but keeping it off--that's the real toughie! We've all seen the TV commercials ("This is me before , and this is me now!"), but what about a couple of years from now? Anyone who loses 20 percent or more of body weight has to work a lot harder at maintaining the lower weight than in taking it off, but a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition offers some valuable insights into the problem.

Two groups of women who had lost at least 20 percent of their body weight were studied. Thirty had maintained the loss for at least two years; 44 had reverted to their previous levels. These were some of the differences that made the difference:

Weight loss strategy. The successful ones were those who had worked out their own programs, reducing their caloric intakes without doing away with the foods they enjoyed most, eating more fruits and vegetables, and exercising faithfully. The unsuccessful tended to be those who were enrolled in formal weight programs, used diet aids, fasted, and avoided favorite foods.

Exercise. Ninety percent of those who maintained their new weight exercised regularly--at least three times weekly and for 30 minutes or more. Fewer than a third of those who regained their weight exercised at all, and with less frequency and effort.

Lifestyle modifications. The successful group were those who understood that maintaining acceptable weight requires a continuing and lifelong change in lifestyle. They monitored their weight, maintained their new eating habits, and had no delusions about the effort required to prevent relapse. The others simply assumed that the initial effort was all that was required and were apparently surprised when their weight returned.

Coping strategies. Although the "maintainers" were more apt to deal with stress by meeting it head on and working out rational solutions, the "relapsers" were more likely to use such escape mechanisms as drinking, smoking, eating, or sleeping.

Social support. Those who sought help from professional counselors, family, or friends had greater success in maintaining their weight loss.
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Title Annotation:maintaining a weight loss
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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