While there is no ONE approach that will work for everyone when it comes to achieving a healthy weight, research published by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) reveals several key habits that are important to have in place. The NWCR is the largest investigation into the habits of long-term healthy weight managers, and from their research, these are the Top 3 tips for creating and sustaining a healthy weight.
Successful weight managers tend to:
- Eat breakfast. According to the NWCR, 78% of healthy weight sustainers eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast helps to set the tone for ensuring a regular eating pattern and for moderating food portions, so if we skip breakfast it may be harder to avoid overeating when we DO eat our next meal. When we skip meals or overly restrict food intake during the day, we tend to create nighttime food cravings. If we consistently eat most of our calories at night, we are more likely to wake up still feeling full, so we skip breakfast and then the cycle repeats itself. Eating breakfast serves to regulate overall eating patterns, and research shows that we tend to make better food choices throughout the day when we start the day with proper nourishment.
- Watch less TV. The NWCR reports that 62% of research participants watch less than 10 hours of TV per week. The average American adult watches television or screens (hello Netflix) an average of 5 hours per day. Sitting has become the new smoking, and while we don’t typically associate television watching with weight gain or poor health, inactivity IS associated with both factors. So, some movement is better than nothing, and combining movements, such as stretching, yoga, or core strengthening with some of our TV watching will help to lessen the impact of how much we sit during our favorite TV shows. The other solution is to simply watch less TV!
- Move daily. Speaking of activity, the NWCR also shows that 90% of respondents exercise up to an hour per day. What is the most common form of exercise in this study? Walking. And not race-walking or ‘wogging’, but walking. For those who feel one hour is a lot depending on current cardiovascular condition and mobility concerns, or available time in the day, there is solid research that shows walking 30 minutes per day dramatically improves our physical and mental health. Walking 30 minutes per day reduces diabetes progression by 58%, reduces progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s by 50%, anxiety by 48% and depression by 30%. Fortunately, this 30 minutes can be broken up into three increments of 10 minutes, if needed. The point is that something is way better than nothing. So, if you are in the contemplative mode with starting to move your body again, the good news is that a little can go a very long way.
It’s often the little changes that we make in our lives that add up to a big payoff for our overall health and wellness. The extreme approaches don’t tend to work long term, but the simple strategies make a difference because they allow for consistency and sustainability. The key is to start small, so if you are feeling overwhelmed with the idea of where to begin when it comes to creating a healthier lifestyle for achieving a healthy weight, simply start with at least one of these tips. When ready, add another tip, and so on. Keeping the approach manageable and not overwhelming helps to ensure long-term success.
Seeking out support can also go a long way in helping you to achieve your health-related goals, the NWCR research shows that 55% of those who are healthy weight sustainers were successful with the assistance of a program. At H3 we have helped thousands of people create a healthier lifestyle in body and mind. If all else fails, we are here for you if you need us.