Dr Caryn Zinn (Dietitian) shares her top strategies for losing weight and keeping it off, long-term.
- The multidimensional approach is key to sustainable weight loss.
You’ve got dietary management or dietary strategies. You’ve got exercise strategies and you’ve got the behavioural component. That multi-pronged strategy is key.
- Food-wise, there are lots of different ways you can achieve long term weight loss. Personally, I think avoiding extremes would be a good way to go.
- Quality of food matters.
If you look at the energy balance equation, you could be in calorie deficit, you could reduce your calories by 500-800 and you could just eat terrible food and you will lose weight, absolutely. But that’s not the point. Quality food and health outcomes do matter.
While weight is important, I really think it’s only one part of a bigger picture, which is overall health.
- Another tip is avoiding hunger.
While low-fat diets can work for some people, one of the things I hear all the time is, “Yes, I can do it, but I’m just so hungry all the time”. Some people can actually just suck it up. It’s amazing when willpower is strong, but I think a better way of doing it, is a way where you can eat healthy whole foods that sustain your hunger. To me, that indicates that most people would be able to do this long-term, because hunger is not something that people find particularly pleasant.
- Exercise calories are a bonus.
If exercise is used as a health strategy, the calories it contributes to weight loss are just a bonus. I think that’s a really good outcome too.
- Mindfulness and behaviour change are really important.
- You’ve heard this before and you’ll hear it again – Know your ‘why’.
If you have a strong reason for wanting to lose weight, whether it’s to improve your diabetes, to live a long, healthy life, or to be able to see your grandchildren – if you really know why you’re doing this and your ‘whys’ are genuinely important to you, then you will overcome some of the hurdles.
- I would recommend monitoring your weight.
I know that goes against the health at every size (HAES) philosophy, which is take away the scales and just focus on healthy habits. This definitely works for some people, but again, coming through on the National Weight Control Registry, which is the closest we have to what works long-term for a lot of people, is that monitoring your weight works for the majority of people. It might be hopping on the scales once a week or once every couple of weeks, and to a certain extent tracking your food intake. This keeps you on the straight and narrow and reins you in when it needs to rein you in.
- The last point is, never take your finger off the pulse.
What I mean by that is if you’ve got a weight loss goal – unfortunately, that always needs to be at the back of your mind. Losing weight and then maintaining weight is not the process over. It’s an ongoing battle for a lot of people. So never taking your finger off the pulse means, don’t forget about it. Maybe take the emphasis off the act of calorie-counting, if you’re doing that, but don’t necessarily get complacent. Remember that to get results you need to keep doing the things that got you the results in the first place.
Keen to lose some weight?
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Dr Caryn Zinn is the lead instructor in the Certificate of Advanced Nutrition.