Check in with a friend - lose more weight!
One of the main reasons that groups like Weight Watchers are more successful than going it alone is the element of accountability. Just knowing that you will be standing on the scale in front of your group leader once a week is enough to put the brakes on having that second helping you are craving.
This has shown quite emphatically by the most successful weight loss program ever known - The Trevose Behavior Modification Program. Named after a small town in Pennsylvania, it is totally free, run by volunteers and offers life time treatment. Why have you not heard of it? Probably because it is free and has no advertising budget, but also because it is so strict. The rules are enforced and very harsh - if you do not attend all the meetings or fail to reach your weight loss goal, you are immediately given your marching orders! No second chances, no begging or pleading will get you back in. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
And guess what? It sure as heck works! People are probably scared skinny! Whereas on Weight Watchers, after 2 years, the average weight loss is only about 6 pounds, on the Trevose Program, the average weight loss is 39 pounds. While Weight Watchers has never had a study longer than 2 years, the Trevose Program has followed people for 5 years, and in that time participants were still down 35 pounds. These are truly exceptional results.
Even though this tough line approach is not for everyone (which is why most people do so poorly on weight loss programs), some of the main principles are likely universal. The first of these being that social support is a big factor in success, even in people who initially said they preferred to go it alone.
Self-monitoring is another keystone for success. If you don't know where you are, how will you ever achieve your weight loss goals? There are multiple commercially available fitness trackers these days which give you a staggering array of endpoints to check. Despite all this, though, the humble bathroom scale remains your best friend in your weight loss journey.
Contrary to the previous belief that dieters would be discouraged by poor results on the scale or even psychologically scarred, evidence is now available showing that frequent weighing is both safe and effective in weight management. The National Weight Control Registry is the largest study of individuals who have been successful at keeping off weight lost, in the long term. Self-weighing was identified as a core weight control strategy, along with regular exercise and a low-calorie, lower fat diet.
For adults who need to lose weight, regular self-weighing seems to actually improve psychological health and well being. This is probably also related to the finding that weighing yourself twice a day was associated with more weight loss than just weighing in the mornings.
So - find yourself a "health buddy", make a weekly date to check in with each other's progress. Buy the best quality bathroom scale you can afford - it can be fun to check out your body composition as well as your weight. Then head into the future with positivity and resolve - and believe that 2020 will be the year that ends dieting for you!
Saltwater wishes from Dr Ross!