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What can we learn from the National Weight Control Registry?

What can we learn from the National Weight Control Registry?
August 1, 2018 Dan Raimondi

The NWCR is an ongoing research project that studies people who have lost more than 30lbs and have kept the weight off for more than 1 year. Here are some findings from those in the study:

-“Participants have lost an average of 66lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years

-45{e18ed2371f09e71a3757b9c079724507f9c8fbf367ae51cfed9a8a84db31045b} lost weight on their own and 55{e18ed2371f09e71a3757b9c079724507f9c8fbf367ae51cfed9a8a84db31045b} used outside help

-98{e18ed2371f09e71a3757b9c079724507f9c8fbf367ae51cfed9a8a84db31045b} modified their food intake in some way to lose weight

-94{e18ed2371f09e71a3757b9c079724507f9c8fbf367ae51cfed9a8a84db31045b} include exercise, the most common type being walking

-78{e18ed2371f09e71a3757b9c079724507f9c8fbf367ae51cfed9a8a84db31045b} eat breakfast everyday

-75{e18ed2371f09e71a3757b9c079724507f9c8fbf367ae51cfed9a8a84db31045b} weigh themselves at least once a week

-62{e18ed2371f09e71a3757b9c079724507f9c8fbf367ae51cfed9a8a84db31045b} watch less than 10 hours of television per week

-90{e18ed2371f09e71a3757b9c079724507f9c8fbf367ae51cfed9a8a84db31045b} exercise, on average, for 1 hour per day” 

Some additional thoughts: not all of these strategies directly cause weight loss- you can weigh yourself once a week and not lose any weight. You can also exercise for an hour every day and stay the same weight if you don’t create a caloric deficit.

Sustainability is important here- doing something that you can stick with is important for long term success. Many of these strategies serve as reminders to boost compliance and consistency. Walking often, exercising, weighing yourself multiple times per week, limiting time spent in front of the television- all reinforce the goal of weight loss.

So what can you do if you’re struggling to lose weight?

  1. Reach out for help. Find a coach who can guide you through the process. I recommend checking out these options: Barbell Medicine, Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, Precision Nutrition, and Renaissance Periodization
  2. Begin an exercise program. Figure out the smallest amount you can commit to for the next week. This might be a 10 minute walk each day, or going to the gym once for 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter what you start with- just get started with a goal that’s so achievable it’s impossible to fail. After a couple of weeks up the stakes- add a little more exercise until the new habit is solidified.
  3. Make breakfast. Reduce the amount of time you spend eating out (bonus- you’ll also save more money)
  4. Weigh yourself. You don’t need to do this everyday, but weighing yourself twice per week can give you an idea of how your weight is trending. Small daily fluctuations are normal, but what we care about is the overall trend. If after a couple of weeks the trend isn’t coming down, make a small adjustment in your food intake and keep going
  5. Don’t try and diet forever. Take breaks periodically from dieting to adjust to your new weight. Typically every 8-10 weeks is a good general rule to pull your foot off the gas and try to maintain your new weight. You didn’t gain all of the weight in 8 weeks, so don’t try and lose it all in that time.