Make New Habits or Break Old Ones?

  • 3 Minutes Read

Are you interested in strategies for maintaining weight after losing it? Read on for expert tips on successful weight maintenance.

Make New Habits or Break Old Ones?

Are you interested in strategies for maintaining weight after losing it? I am! A recently published study in the International Journal of Obesity, Habit-based interventions for weight loss maintenance in adults with overweight and obesity: a randomized controlled trial, caught my eye. The aim of this study was "to determine whether habit-based interventions are clinically beneficial in achieving long-term (12-month) weight loss maintenance and explore whether making new habits or breaking old habits is more effective". Well, based on my professional experience, I can tell you that looking at lifestyle habits is crucial for long-term weight maintenance. Now, the second question about whether it is more important to break old or make new habits is interesting to me. Hmm... Thank you to researchers who back up theories like this with science so we can all learn from it.

In this study, researchers recruited 75 adults, aged 18-75 years, randomly assigned them to one of three different groups, and then followed them for 12 weeks. The Top Ten Tips group did a self-guided program based on forming new eating and activity behaviors. The Do Something Different group focused on breaking unhealthy behaviors through an online program. The third control group received no intervention or weight loss advice. Not only did the first two groups lose more weight than the third group during the 12 weeks, but one year later, these two groups were more successful at maintaining their weight. At the end of the 12 months, the behavior-focused groups also showed greater improvements in waist size, daily fruit and vegetable intake, depression, anxiety, and reported well-being. These outcomes captured the whole wellness package, not just a mere focus on weight loss.

So, what is the take-home message I would like to share with you? Both breaking unhealthy habits and forming new, healthy habits are effective. If you want to be successful at taking weight off and keeping it off, please don't fall prey to the endless stream of fad diets that come your way, but rather look at your own habits. You know yourself the best. Remember, the latest fad diet author doesn't know you from Adam.

If you are seeking weight loss or weight maintenance, here are some suggestions you may find useful:

Yes, we are creatures of habit and lasting change takes time and self-reflection. Old habits that harm our health can be hard to break and new ones require effort and personalization. It is so worth it, though! Take baby steps, be kind and patient with yourself and have a sense of humor. Small changes can lead to the big result of health and vitality!

Weight Loss->Behavior Weight Maintenance->Behavior
May 29, 2018
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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