I have just finished reading an insightful paper from the ‘Lean Habits Study‘ which examines the link between long term weight reduction and behaviours.
It concludes that:
- Behaviour change is fundamental if long term weight loss is to be successful.
- The more behaviours a person changes, the greater the chances of success. They actually found that 5 changes led to the greatest change.
- Making one single behaviour change is not enough to sustain weight loss.
- Those who are least successful at maintaining weight loss tend to relapse in the first year.
- Professional, therapeutic support when losing weight should last for at least a year.
Losing weight and subsequently keeping it off is ‘a complex process of behavioural change’ that should not be underestimated. That is not to say that a person cannot lose a decent amount of weight in a short amount of time, they absolutely can! But the trick is keeping that weight loss going or sustaining it at the very least. This is where behaviour change comes in.
The behaviours that this study identified as being pivotal were as follows:
- A flexible as opposed to rigid approach to eating; this means allowing for social events and foods that you enjoy, not restricting one food or macronutrient and taking a ‘all or nothing’ approach.
- Meal Rhythm; having a regular eating pattern that reduces the need for snacking.
- Food Choice; choosing vegetables and fruits over high fat foods or sweets.
- Meal situations; being mindful about how and when you eat a meal i.e. sitting down at the table, avoiding other activity like watching TV or scrolling through Facebook.
- Physical Activity; incorporating exercise as well as generally moving more each day.
- Managing stress; recognising what causes stress and making a conscious effort to reduce this through relaxation techniques i.e. meditation. This can help identify emotions linked to over eating.
The more of these behaviours that are implemented, the more success will be achieved over time. This is further supported by the NHS who advise that long term lifestyle changes are essential to maintain healthy weight loss.
Our behaviours, however, tend to be incredibly ingrained and we often don’t even realise what we are doing to stall progress.
So, if you are struggling, seek support and make sure you have a long term strategy in mind.
This was brought to you by Rebecca Flannery, Evidence Based Nutritionist at Transformational Nutrition.