Journey to a Lean Lifestyle

November 3, 2011

Journey to a Lean Lifestyle

It was interesting to read my fellow blogger Dr. Eric Van De Graaff’s recent blog post on The Lean Lifestyle. It is very timely as last July, a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation listed Nebraska as the 24th most obese state in the country.

I was impressed by Dr. Van de Graaf’s observations and comments because they are very similar to the results from the National Weight Control Registry. In 1994, Rena Wing, Ph.D., and James Hill, Ph.D., recruited individuals who had lost weight and who had maintained their weight loss for five years. Currently with over 10,000 individuals enrolled, it is the largest prospective investigation of weight loss and maintenance.

Using detailed questionnaires and yearly follow-up surveys, these researchers and their team have published 31 articles in peer reviewed journals. I find their data on the behavioral and psychological characteristics of the weight maintainers to be inspiring, and the strategies they use to maintain their weight loss to be motivating.

First some data:

♥ Registry members have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept if off for 5.5 years.
♥ Weight losses ranged from 30 to 300 pounds.
♥ Duration of weight loss ranges from one year to 66 years.
♥  45% of registry participants lost weight on their own while 55% lost weight with help from some type of program
♥ 98% report that they modified their food intake to lose weight.  They average 1800 calories per day and less than 30% of their calories from fat.  (Does this sound like the American Heart Association plan?)
♥  94% increased their physical activity.  Walking is the most frequently reported activity.

As Registered Dietitian, I find their daily habits to be most interesting:

♥ 78% eat breakfast every day (So helpful in reducing cravings and late night eating)
♥ 75% weigh themselves at least once a week (If the weight is up over two pounds, they track their food intake more closely.)
♥ 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week (spend time with family in preparing meals and other activities like homework, games, or walking)
♥ They count calories or fat grams or use a commercial weight loss program to track food intake (calorie points)
♥ Eat similar foods routinely (Do not need to be a gourmet cook to eat well)
♥ They do not splurge much on holidays or special occasions (In my practice, this is a tough one. Need to retrain our thinking. It is possible to have a good time without overeating or drinking.)
♥ They dine out on average of only three times per week. They eat fast food less than once a week
♥ They exercise daily. On average, 90% exercise one hour per day.  The most frequent exercise is walking.

As you can see the Lean Lifestyle, as Dr. Van De Graaff detailed, is very similar to the participants in this registry. To move Nebraska from the 24th most obese state in the country to the number one leanest, think about your lifestyle. Are changes needed? Select one of the participants’ habits and make it your habit too.

Any journey starts with a single step. Choose your first single step on the journey to a lean lifestyle.

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