Successful Long-term Weight Loss | Great Health Guide
Successful Long-term Weight Loss

Successful Long-term Weight Loss

Written by Dr Ken Wong principal bariatric surgeon

Many people have little problem losing weight. The real challenge is keeping it off. Far too often, many people are on a constant physical, emotional and mental roller coaster of losing weight from various diets, exercise, only to see weight regain within weeks or months. Rather than flicking from one fad diet to another, the foundation of long-term weight loss is maintenance of a healthy, calorie regulated diet and regular physical exercise. Life often gets in the way and in this article, but I share some strategies of patients who have achieved successful long term weight loss.

1. Mindset, goal setting and commitment to lifestyle change.

Visualisation of success is the first step. Think about the why. Concrete objectives are the key. I want to be able to keep up with my kids. I want to be able to fit into off the shelf clothes. Difficult goals require strong motivators. Set achievable goals e.g. 0.5kg off per week and write them down and e.g. stop buying soft drinks. Commit to ticking off these goals. Keep a journal. Celebrate your achievements, with a healthy reward to create a cycle of positive reinforcement.

2. Get professional help. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Don’t do this alone. Surround yourself with supportive and positive people. Professional athletes have a team around them to optimise their performance. Long term weight loss is more likely if you have a great support team including doctors, dietitians, exercise professionals and psychologists. Not only can they help keep you accountable, but their professional experience is also invaluable. This may involve discussions of weight loss medications and surgery as extra tools in achieving your longer-term goals.

3. Identify and deal with stressors and obstacles.

Daily life throws many obstacles to successful maintenance of weight loss. Work and family commitments can overwhelm. Suddenly there is no time to exercise or to eat properly. We opt for fast food and skip sleep. If you accept that your personal health is your top priority, then other daily life matters need to be rescheduled around that goal. Importantly, remember food should not be an excuse to deal with stress or boredom. Plan to replace food with a run or a swim in these situations.

4. Focus on mindful eating.

80% of healthy weight maintenance comes from diet and the remainder via exercise. Mindful eating is critical. Success involves being conscious of exactly what is eaten and portion size as opposed to mindless binge snacking and grazing. Be aware of eating regular meals and actively keep unhealthy foods out of the house.

5. Track your progress.

Now that you have written down your motivations and your diet/exercise plans, it is important to track your progress. There are many fantastic free apps for your phone that you can enter your daily diet/exercise achievements and weight measurements. Visual reminders can provide positive reinforcement to remind you to stay the path. Phone based pedometers and calorie counters are great.

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6. Transition perspective from obstacles to a lifestyle.

Choosing to cook healthy meals and exercising vigorously is difficult. Habits take time to form. Often there are setbacks and relapses. The real key to long term success is when these difficulties are no longer perceived as things to do but become a natural part of your daily lifestyle. For example, it suddenly becomes preferable to walk or cycle to work rather than driving.

Successful long term weight maintenance is challenging. Strategies for success involve goal setting, progress tracking and adopting a commitment to lifestyle change. Healthy eating and regular exercising need to be the new normal lifestyle. Creating a support network of both personal contacts and professionals will increase chance of success.

Author of this article:

Dr. Ken Wong is a specialist gastro-intestinal and weight loss surgeon based in Gosford, New South Wales, Australia.  He works closely with dietitians and psychologists in order to maximise health outcomes for his patients. Dr Wong can be contacted via his website.

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