This is a collection of suggestions and strategies from The Hernried Center and excerpts from Thin for Life* that have helped people reduce and maintain at a lower weight. Feel free to mark the strategies with which you can relate.
• Even if you were overweight as a child, you can keep it off.
• Even if you have failed a lot you can still figure out how to be successful.
• If you plateau in your weight loss, it doesn’t have to be the end.
• Sleep 7-9 hours every night.
• Ultimately, you can modify your behavior with knowledge, focus and practice.
• “Lisa got all the way down to 140 but decided it was more realistic for her to be 170. If your original weight goal is too low, you are not a failure.”
• “The masters give themselves permission to deviate from some preconceived ideal and recognize that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to weight control. When they do “slip,” they don’t berate themselves, but they do take immediate action so the situation doesn’t get out of hand. Thus, they prevent lapses from becoming full-blown relapses.”
• “Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you’re going to do it all the time.”
• “Most masters at weight control didn’t make it the first time around. On the contrary, nearly 60 percent of them had tried to lose weight at least five times before they were finally successful.”
• Pay attention to portions. Weigh or measure your food especially at first, to get a sense of the correct portion size.
• Eat a variety of foods at your meal. It makes eating more enjoyable and helps you get a healthful mix of nutrients.
• Eat slowly. Eliminate distractions, like watching TV or ready the newspaper while eating.
• Place healthful foods, like low-fat yogurt, fruits and vegetables in the front of the refrigerator.
• Beware of post-meal eating. This is often when most extra calories are consumed. Preventing eating during these times can help stabilize your weight.
• Eat breakfast every day.
• At breakfast, include a protein serving such as eggs, cottage cheese, Canadian bacon, or a protein shake. Protein has been shown to reduce hunger.
• There is no reason to starve yourself to maintain your weight. You can learn to get a lot of food with few calories.
• It’s important not to let yourself get too hungry.
• Eat when you are hungry. If you eat for other reasons, like when you’re bored or stressed, find a non-food activity to satisfy you. For instance, go for a walk, call a friend, or read a book.
• Keep tempting foods out of sight or out of the house.
• The secret is I never really denied myself anything that I really wanted. I just cut back a little each day and stayed with it.”
• “Even when eating out, which I do at least twice a week, I tell waitpersons I’m allergic to butter. I eat fish out- but seldom, if ever, meat. I’m careful but happy in my eating habits.”
• “I focus on eating a low-fat diet and eating only when I’m hungry. I eat as much as I want of healthy foods.”
• “I basically cut all fats from my diet. It’s wonderful, and I really do eat a lot. I buy fat-free [products] and sometimes these things cost a little more, but they are worth it.”
• “Virtually all the masters take steps to control their highest-temptation foods.”
• “The masters also make conscious choices about how to spend their calories. Part of the choice-making process is trade-offs. That is, if you have a higher-calorie or fatty item, you may have to forgo something else.”
• Pick an exercise you want to do and not one that someone else recommends. The correct exercise is one that you want to do.
• Consider hiring a personal trainer or having an exercise buddy to help you get going.
• “Walking is the most popular form of exercise at three or more times a week. You don’t have to become an exercise fanatic.”
• “…experts suggest that what’s most important about exercise is consistency and enjoyment- and less so the amount or type of activity.”
• “Regular exercise helps burn calories and reduce stress that triggers overeating.”
• “Exercise allows you to eat that much more on maintenance; because of exercise, I can be a lot less concerned when I do overeat.”
• Weigh yourself daily and write it down. After all, it is just data. Doing this every day will soon take away the emotion around it.
• “Bonnie has kept off 53 pounds for 18 years by giving herself a 5 pound range. If her weight goes up, she stops snacking and finds healthful substitutes to determine what is causing her to gain weight. If you start gaining weight it doesn’t mean you are going to gain it all back. Keep track with the scale.”
• “Quite a few masters mentioned that keeping a food diary is one of the most important things they do to keep their weight down.”
• “The vast majority of masters stop gaining before they put on more than 5 pounds; most others allow themselves no more than 10 pounds.”
• “Establish a weight buffer zone. Have a set plan of action if you hit the upper limit.”
• “…The vast majority of masters weight themselves regularly so they can catch themselves when their weight starts creeping up: 98 percent of them keep their weight within a 10-pound range.”
• Learn to recognize emotional hunger versus physical hunger. Is it a chocolate bar you crave? Or a hug?
• “When I want to overeat, I try to figure out if it’s fatigue, anxiety or if I need comfort; I try to figure out what I really need.”
• “Learn to deal with life’s problems in constructive ways, without turning to food.”
• “People blame all their problems on their weight, but the problems don’t go away when you’re thin.”
Sentences in quotes are taken from Fletcher, AM; Thin for Life, 2003