“Losing weight is easy. It’s keeping weight off that is hard.”
I didn’t believe this the first time I heard this. But I became a convert.
It happened a few years back. Washington Post columnist, Jennifer Huget, started her “Me-minus-10” program. To help her, my Cornell Food and Brand Lab worked with Jennifer to find 3 easy changes that she could make each month to lose these stubborn 10 pounds. We analyzed photographs of her kitchen, dining room, cupboards, and refrigerators. We went over daily patterns of her and her family, and we asked how she would respond to different eating scenarios. Based on this we used our Slim by Design approach to suggest find easy, daily changes she should consider.
After 3 months, Jennifer had lost 12 pounds. Now comes the difficult part.
When we accomplish a goal, it’s easy to backslide because the race is finished. Losing 10 or 30 pounds is a reward unto itself. You did it; you won the race, and you want to staop.
The problem is that keeping 10-30 pounds off isn’t easy to celebrate. There’s no reward, or change, or progress to see. Without the motivation to keep the change, how do you do it?
There are two different options. One is to find a support group for maintaining weight loss - the TOPS program (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is one of my favorites (for people on a budget). A second option is to adjust your goal.
With Jennifer, we helped her adjust her goal. Instead of having the goal to “Lose 10 pounds,” she changed it to “Get my family to eat healthier (without them knowing it).” She kept focusing on making three small changes that would benefit her family, but also help keep her on track. For instance, she put a piece of fruit next to her husband’s car keys every morning. She put 20% of any dinner entrée into the refrigerator before serving the rest for dinner. She made there were little baggies of cut up fruit or vegetables on the middle refrigerator shelf.
Any daily change that keeps you just a little bit disciplined ends up keeping you a lot disciplined. The key to keeping the change, is in making a related change.
[There's a nice related video right here]