Here’s an interesting concept. If you are struggling to lose weight try not to lose weight, at least initially. Makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Believe it or not that’s what a researchers from Standford University School of Medicine found in this recent study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
Two-hundred and sixty-seven obese women were split into two groups. The first group spent 8 weeks learning weight stability skills (skills to maintain weight) and then 20 weeks in a behavioral weight loss program. The second group did just the opposite. They spent 20 weeks in a behavioral weight loss program and then 8 weeks learning how to maintain weight. The researchers felt that a different set of skills may be involved in maintaining weight versus losing weight. Obese individuals may not have developed weight maintenance skills as they frequently find themselves either losing weight or regaining it.
Women in both groups lost the same amount of weight – about 9% of their baseline weight or 17 pounds. After the 28 weeks the women were then on their own for 12 months in which there was no further intervention or contact from the study’s researchers.
Now for the bad news and good news. Both groups regained some of the lost weight (bad news), but the net effect was an overall loss in weight from baseline at the beginning of the study (good news) . The first group – the group that learned weight maintenance skills before attempting to lose weight – regained 3 pounds while the second group regained 7 pounds.
Behavioral Strategies to Lose Weight
The behavioral weight loss component emphasized eating more fruits and vegetables, increasing physical activity, keeping a daily food record, and weekly 90 minutes sessions to learn problems skills designed to lose weight.
Strategies to Maintain Weight
Weight maintenance strategies used in the study included:
- Discovering low-fat/low calorie foods that taste good to avoid feelings of food deprivation.
- Occasionally eating small amounts of high fat/high calories food.
- Weighing daily to appreciate how body weight naturally fluctuates from day-to-day.
- Identifying personalized weight fluctuation range of 5 pounds that accounts for disruptions to eating (vacation, illness, schedule change, etc) to better minimize the effects of such disruption.
- Eating more when nearing the lower end of the 5 pound fluctuation range.
First Things First