A study from the California Polytechnic State University found that individuals who have a greater quality of life, healthier habits, and better coping and management strategies are better able to maintain weight loss in the long term.
The study was conducted with two groups of participants age 18 or older using multiple questionnaires. The main group consisted of 4,786 participants contacted by Weight Watchers. The individuals were contacted based on their records showing a 20 lb or greater weight loss maintained for over one year.
The second group (found through online advertising) were used as a control, with 528 individuals who reported a BMI of 30 or greater and a stable weight for more than five years.
The participants were asked to fill out multiple questionnaires that measured how they self-rated their healthy or unhealthy habits and abilities. These measurements included their coping methods and routines, amount and frequency of physical activity, their ability to accept and deal with cravings and negative thoughts, their level of self-compassion and self-care, and finally their quality of life based on their general health status.
The results of the study found that the participants who maintained their weight loss had many healthier habits and routines that allowed them to maintain their progress. They reported better quality of life and worked harder to maintain their health. Improved quality of life was correlated with greater physical activity and the practice of coping strategies (like challenging negative thoughts, thinking about past successes and remaining positive in the face of weight regain) to combat cravings and food-related negative thoughts. The research team found that the longer people practiced and rehearsed healthy habits, the greater the chance the habit would be easier to maintain with less effort.
Based on the study’s results, they suggest that reducing the availability of high-calorie foods, creating a calorie goal, and measuring the nutritional contents of your food will allow you to keep the weight off. The reports from the weight loss maintainers show that with these practices, adopting positive coping strategies, a frequent long-term rehearsal of healthy eating, and exercise habits will garner the ability to keep the weight from coming back.