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November 5, 2012

Struggling To Lose Weight? Try This New Strategy

lose weightTry This Strategy to Lose Weight

Here’s an interesting concept. If you are struggling to lose weight try not to lose weight, at least initially.  Makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Believe it or not that’s what a researchers from Standford University School of Medicine found in this recent study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 

Two-hundred and sixty-seven obese women were split into two groups. The first group spent 8 weeks learning weight stability skills (skills to maintain weight) and then 20 weeks in a behavioral weight loss program. The second group did just the opposite. They spent 20 weeks in a behavioral weight loss program and then 8 weeks learning how to maintain weight.

The researchers felt that a different set of skills may be involved in maintaining weight versus losing weight. Obese individuals may not have developed weight maintenance skills as they frequently find themselves either losing weight or regaining it.

Women in both groups lost the same amount of weight – about 9% of their baseline weight or 17 pounds.  After the 28 weeks the women were then on their own for 12 months in which there was no further intervention or contact from the study’s researchers.

Now for the bad news and good news. Both groups regained some of the lost weight (bad news), but the net effect was an overall loss in weight from baseline at the beginning of the study (good news) . The first group – the group that learned weight maintenance skills before attempting to lose weight – regained 3 pounds while the second group regained 7 pounds.

Behavioral Strategies to Lose Weight

The behavioral weight loss component emphasized eating more fruits and vegetables, increasing physical activity, keeping a daily food record, and weekly 90 minutes sessions to learn problems skills designed to lose weight.

Strategies to Maintain Weight

Weight maintenance strategies used in the study included:

  • Discovering low-fat/low calorie foods that taste good to avoid feelings of food deprivation.
  • Occasionally eating small amounts of high fat/high calories food.
  • Weighing daily to appreciate how body weight naturally fluctuates from day-to-day.
  • Identifying personalized weight fluctuation range of 5 pounds that accounts for disruptions to eating (vacation, illness, schedule change, etc) to better minimize the effects of such disruption.
  • Eating more when nearing the lower end of the 5 pound fluctuation range.
During this weight maintenance phase women were instructed to regain any weight they may have lost during that 8 week phase.

First Things First

When you think about it this weight maintenance first approach makes sense and I give the researchers much credit for thinking outside the box and considering this novel approach. If you cannot even maintain a particular weight can you really expect to lose weight – and keep it off?  It’s a lot like learning to crawl before you learn to walk. Maybe this study will change the way we look at weight loss.
See related articles.

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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