Weight control is a topic that many struggle with throughout their lives. If you didn't struggle with it as a young person, you may begin to as you age. So . . . how is one successful in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight? The following information is taken from a Jan. 1998 article in "Harvard Women's Health Watch".

Researchers from the Universities of Pittsburg and Colorado put together a registry of women who had lost at least 30 pounds and maintained the loss for an average of 5.5 years. They surveyed the first 629 of these women and found that their average age was 44, 93% had tried to lose weight in the past, and their average number of pounds lost was 65 (from 210 lbs. to 145 lbs.).

Commitment was a key factor in keeping pounds off. There were no surprises regarding success. 89% of the women followed a basic program of eat less, exercise more, consistently. 60% sought a formal program or professional help. Most used neither diet drugs (5%) nor liquid formulas (19%).

Popular forms of exercise were walking, aerobics and swimming with a large portion of the women using two or more types of exercise. Most exercised at home and 1/3 also worked out with a group. Both during the period of losing weight and to maintain the loss, these women kept up their physical activity at a higher level than the amount recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention or The American College of Sports Medicine. The women who successfully kept the pounds off were burning about 2700 calories in exercise beyond the amount required for gardening or house chores. That's almost 3 times the minimum recommended (1000 calories) or 1.35 times the "optimal level" (2000 calories).

Women who managed to maintain a stable weight continued healthy eating habits after concluding weight loss. On average they ate five times per day including snacks. They ate out three or less times per week, and seldom at fast food restaurants. They continued to control portions, count calories, restrict fat and monitor their weight at least weekly.

The majority of these women were in a group who would be expected to have less success than they did. Most had been overweight since childhood or had a family history of obesity. But they felt the pay-offs for losing and keeping the pounds off were tremendous. More than 90% felt their overall quality of life, energy level, mobility, self confidence, and mood had improved. Half felt they spent less time thinking about food and weight than they did when they weighed more, and more than half found interpersonal relationships easier.

No question that losing weight are usually difficult, but these results indicate that success can positively affect your life emotionally as well as physically.

FYI will contain new information from time to time. This will focus on ideas and tips relevant to maintaining a healthy state of mind. Since Dr. Lull believes in the mind - body connection and a holistic approach to health, information on maintaining a healthy body may also be included.

    Ruth Lull

    Ruth Lull has been an individual and family therapist for 20 years.  


    May 2013