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Behaviours Influencing Successful Weight Loss

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Old 04-13-2011, 11:26 PM   #1
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Default Behaviours Influencing Successful Weight Loss

Hey there -- In the spirit of sharing... I'm reading a great booked called "Influencers - The Power to Change Anything". I chose the book to help me develop in my work, but I'm finding it's very relevant to my personal life too.

The main message is that to successfully change anything you have to research and figure out the right behaviours to influence the change you seek. Change strategies which are based on behaviours (ie/ I will exercise 3x each week, or I will write down what I eat daily) rather than outcomes (ie/ I will burn more calories than I eat) result in more frequent success.

The book went on to mention that the successful behaviours for weight loss had already been observed and documented in a study by the (US) National Weight Control Registry. In this study the participants had lost 30lbs or more and kept it off for 5 years or more; the researchers noted the following behaviours that most of the successful subjects shared:

Quote:
o 78% eat breakfast every day.
o 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
o 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
o 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

* 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.

* 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.

* There is variety in how NWCR members keep the weight off. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.
I found this interesting because I can see how often I might jump to outcomes, but really I need to focus on the behaviour that will bring the outcome I desire..so that's my plan.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:43 PM   #2
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This is exactly where I am right now. I do all those things ,every single one and I don't see it ever having an end in sight either. I am fine with continuing these key things forever.

I have to bite my tongue so often when talking about weight loss with others. And my bootcamp class being the worst because several of the people I have known for awhile. They tell me how they want to just exercise but still eat their "normal" aka high fat foods and expect to get results. They claim counting calories to be too much stress/work. They don't do any extra cardio on the off days and get upset the scale hasn't moved fast enough.

I don't always agree with some of the stuff my trainer says like suggesting a cleanse to lose weight. I tell him this is my life not me just trying to squeeze into a prom dress. I want to do it the healthy right way and that will be slower but I will get there.

Thanks for sharing it's very interesting. I read a similar article in an issue of Cooking Light the other day.
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Old 04-14-2011, 05:15 AM   #3
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I think confusing behavior with outcome is one of the major stumbling block for weight loss. We say "I will lose 10 lbs, in 5 weeks" as if losing weight were a behavior we had full, absolute, and precise control over.

Weight loss isn't a behavior, it's a result of behavior. You have direct control over the actual behaviors, but you have only indirect control over the results. The behavior shapes the results, but there is no guarantee that you'll get the specific outcome you want, but you can always measure your success in accomplishing the behaviors.

The only way you could have direct and precise control over fat loss, would be by carefully removing the fat physically (liposuction, which isn't a do-it-yourself project).

For myself, in a sense, to lose weight, I had to stop trying to lose weight. Instead, I decided which healthy behaviors I was willing to commit to for life, regardless of whether they yeilded any immediate weight loss. Weight loss was the side-effect and one of the rewards for the behavior, not the behavior itself.

There were other benefits too: better sleep, better mental and physical health, strength, endurance, flexibility, energy level...

I've tried to document those "rewards" as well, so that during weeks when the weight loss doesn't come (or worse, when I gain, even when I know it's just TOM water weight gain), I remind myself that I'm not only in it for the weight loss. I'm also making the behavior changes for other rewards as well, so even if I were to never lose a single additional pound, the weight I've lost and the health I've gained are worth keeping up the behaviors.

When I was focusing on the weight, I always wanted to quit whenever the
weight loss didn't seem to match my efforts. Now that I don't expect a specific result, I'm more likely to feel rewarded when I see any result (even if the result is "not gaining," which I saw as a failure in the past, not the success it actually was). I also tend to look at my weight as something I can always maintain, even if I'm not sure I can keep losing. Since I don't want to lose the progress I've made, maintenance is always a priority, even when weight loss isn't.

Just the vow of "no-backtracking" has kept me on a path I've never gotten this far on, before. I've never lost so much weight or kept it off so long, just by refusing to give myself permission to quit "doing stuff" to keep the weight off.

I've decided that I can change how I try, but I can't choose not to try.
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:56 AM   #4
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I have really had to adjust my thinking from "I will lose X pounds in X amount of time" to "I will eat this, not that, I will do this, not that". It's the reason I only weighed monthly when I first started and for the first 6-7 months. Took the focus OFF the pounds and put it ON to what I needed to be DOING to live a healthier lifestyle. Now that I have a pretty good handle on what I need to be eating and doing, I've switched to weekly weighing to keep a closer eye on things that may need to be tweaked. I know it's not for everyone, but that really helped me.
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Old 04-14-2011, 09:42 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by shannonmb View Post
Took the focus OFF the pounds and put it ON to what I needed to be DOING to live a healthier lifestyle.

That is excellent!!

Reading through these posts, I didn't realize I had been focusing more on the changes I was making than the results.

Keep making changes, like eating healthier and increasing exercise because they're healthy changes that should be made to avoid health problems and feel great. Weight loss is the icing on the cake!
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:31 AM   #6
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I agree and do all of those behaviors and it is working. I am not on a timetable and do not agree with deadline dieting. It can be motivation for change but not the measurement of success.

o 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.

I assume this only includes being engaged in watching a program and not having the TV on all day for 'company' or listening while multi-tasking (getting ready for work or cooking/cleaning). Not sure how they would quantify watching a movie at home on TV in lieu of going to a theatre.

But what about computer activity - I spend way more time (actively engaged) on my computer than I do with TV. I get my news online rather than watching the news or reading the local paper, pay my bills, write letters, shop, etc. I don't do much gaming but I know others do as well as with gaming systems (on a TV). I think these other aspects of similar (non-TV) activity is a permanent cultural trend that they should examine along with TV watching.

I guess I would have to see the NWCR questionaire to see how these things are addressed.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:52 AM   #7
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I do all those things too - and also for exercise, walking (and more recently jogging) is my main form. I somehow felt like I didn't exercise because I "only" walk - but having read Thin for Life and how walking is so common among successful maintainers, I felt a lot better. And thanks for the info about the book - it sounds like a great read and I think I'll pick it up!
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:24 PM   #8
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I have thought about this for quite some time. One of my many problems with weight loss is that I am such DO-er. It's much easier to DO than not do. I can DO the exercise, but denying myself certain foods is much harder. So with this weight loss, I emphasized the doing behaviors. These are things like exercising, eating more vegetables, planning my foods, changing the foods I eat, learning new recipes, learning new foods, etc. It's a lot easier to buy a few new vegetables I've never had before and spend some time learning how to prepare them than it is to say "No more chocolate."
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliana View Post
I have thought about this for quite some time. One of my many problems with weight loss is that I am such DO-er. It's much easier to DO than not do. I can DO the exercise, but denying myself certain foods is much harder. So with this weight loss, I emphasized the doing behaviors. These are things like exercising, eating more vegetables, planning my foods, changing the foods I eat, learning new recipes, learning new foods, etc. It's a lot easier to buy a few new vegetables I've never had before and spend some time learning how to prepare them than it is to say "No more chocolate."

This is me too. I didn't know it at first, but I came to realize that instead of saying "I'm cutting soda" I have to say "I'll drink 64 ounces of water today" or like your chocolate, I have to say I'll eat 5 servings of vegetables today. (Hoping that these things will make me full and satisfied so that I won't miss the things I cut out.)

I also like the thought, "This is just how I eat now." No matter what. Emotional, celebratory, bored, whatever my feeling, I eat what I eat. (Can you tell I'm still working on this one?)

Great thread!
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:08 PM   #10
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It is a good thread, I agree, and I like the principle.

I think I have mixed results on this one. On the one hand, I had a real focus on pounds last year. I lost a lot of them and I'm pretty happy about that. It required a focus on doing behaviors - I tracked food and exercised regularly - as well as the goal.

This year I have had to change my focus (you have no idea how proud I am to be able to type about my weight control efforts from last year AND this year!) a bit. Results are slower, for one thing. For another, the kind of focus I had on pounds and weight control last year isn't something I can maintain indefinitely. I needed to be able to broaden my focus a bit. I'm a goal-driven person. So, this year, I have added a goal: a sport, triathlon, which requires the same kinds of behaviors to complete and will eventually yield the pounds result. It helps to develop maintainable habits. I still track food, but not quite as closely and my nutritional needs are a bit different. I still weigh, but not obsessively, and the numbers I see hit me differently. I exercise way more.

What I didn't plan for in any of that is a set of behaviors that I will have to work on - food and exercise behaviors in times of crisis. The last 7 months have included several real crises, to which I didn't respond well; I went right back to old habits and regained some weight. I didn't keep spiraling, but the notice is there to be read - I have another area to work on. I hope there aren't too many more crises to practice with this year, to be honest.
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:34 PM   #11
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All of the excellent comments in this thread are why I do not have numerical goals or even numerical mini-goals.

My only goal is to make the best choice I can make, every time I am presented with a choice. That means things like choosing to plan meals ahead of time and do lots of cooking on the weekend to have planned leftovers; choosing to go work out even when I'd rather just go home; choosing to ignore whatever tasty treats have been left out in the office kitchen; etc.

This approach has been good for me in two ways: first, it's taken the focus off how long the process is (and it's been quite a long one for me, I don't lose terribly quickly as it turns out), and placed the focus instead on the moment. I don't know what I can do "for the rest of my life", that's a very daunting thought - but I know what I can do right now, and saying no to that cookie or dragging myself to the gym just this once isn't really such a big deal.

And second, as all of you have already commented so astutely in this thread, focusing on the choices I make has given me goals that are entirely within my control to achieve. If I started off saying "here we go! I'm going to lose 100 pounds in a year!" I'd have already failed. Instead, I get to have multiple successes every day.
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:44 PM   #12
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Instead, I get to have multiple successes every day.
This is another great point! I bet many successful losers would say they take joy in multiple successes every day. I know this is why I love the gym so much. I feel successful at it each and every day. I get a little ego boost every time I reach and/or surpass a goal I've set, and I set them every time I walk in the gym. It definitely keeps me coming back!
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Old 04-14-2011, 03:32 PM   #13
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I do try to focus on the changes themselves too-I sometimes lose myself in losing weight and really wanting it-but mostly, my day to day goal is one day, one step, one change I can maintain, and one change I can improve on. I see maintaining the changes as almost a more successful endeavor because I have lost weight, but I have never maintained my own change on my own this long
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:35 PM   #14
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I'm happy to report that I am doing all those things this time around. An important note is that during my previous failed attempts, I definitely watched more than 10 hours of TV/week and did not exercise at all, let alone for an hour each day. In fact, I have a one income household so my husband and I actually made the decision to cancel our cable so we could afford our gym memberships! YAY us! I'm happy to say that I only watch about 1hr of TV per night/and that's a Disney movie with my 2yr old. We lay down at 8pm each night to settle down and get ready for ni'ni together. This is nice time for us since I work all day.

I totally agree with focusing on behaviour over outcomes but didn't realize that's what I was doing until you put it out there in black and white, Angie. Usually my goal is to lose weight...whatever that means. This time, my goals are to exercise 5-6/days per week, eat healthier foods and stay within my recommended caloric intake, and drink 64ozs of water each day. That's another reason I CAN'T weigh-in everyday. I really don't want that to be my focus. I just need to know - in the long term - that my behaviors are moving me towards being a healthier human being (healthier food, healthier weight, healthier activity-levels, etc.)

@Angie
Thanks so much for sharing! I'm actually really happy to hear that I have the tride and true "behaviours" that work to make weight loss a permanent change! How uplifting!

@Nikki
I really like what you said to the trainer about the cleansing. I know several women that cleanse regularly and always show big losses when they do but when you look at their overall history, they're just losing and gaining the same 10lbs over and over again!

I'm with you! I don't need any quick fixes. I'm changing me...for the good and FOREVER!

@kaplods
DITTO! I heart everything you said. Made me laugh when you said liposuction isn't a DIY project...ewww...THANK GOD it isn't! I can't agree with you more regarding the need to "quit" if the weightloss doesn't match your efforts. I've always fallen into that trap in the past. Congratulations on all your successes including the 90lbs!

@DixC Chix
I think you're right in that the results must be considering those actively engaged in watching TV. Simply having the TV doesn't say anything about what you do while you watch (or listen) to it. At 10 hrs/week, that averages to a little over 100 minutes a day. I definitely think that excludes people just checking in on the evening news. I assume it's just a common link that people watching more than 10 hrs/week typically aren't doing much else...though there's the exception to every rule, right?

@Eliana & goodforme
Ditto! I've said I'm going to drink 64oz of water each day and I naturally stop drinking soda. I say I'm going to eat healthier and stay w/i my calories and I naturally stop eating fast food. Now let me say, "No more fast food" and that's ALL I freakin' want! Funny how that works, huh?

@calluna
Yes, that's definitely not the kind of "practice" anyone wants. It is good that you learned something about yourself from it and will eventually have the tools to cope better in the future. I'm quite certain I have the same area improvement!

@carter
You are so right! I succeed every day I get up to my alarm so I can exercise instead of snoozing. First thing I do in a day is a success. If for whatever reason, I can't do that. I have a lot of other opportunities to succeed! LOVE IT!
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:01 PM   #15
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I'm glad you guys liked the information...I'm thrilled at all the great conversation and thoughts shared.

In the book there is a piece about successful recovery from straying from your plan for losing weight, I'll have to review it and post back some more info.
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