I have very little interest these days in all the media-hyped stories of dramatic, rapid losses of body weight. That doesn’t impress me, for numerous reasons. For example,weight is not fat. “weight” could be composed of mostly leantissue, or it could be mostly water weight. In fact, I would even go a step further and point out that rapid loss of bodyweight correlates very highly with a greater chance of relapse, weight re-gain and long term failure.

So what does impress me? What gets my attention?…

I pay attention to what the “long term maintainers” have tosay – those are the people who have maintained an ideal weight for over a year…preferably even 2-5 years or more.

Mike Ogorek is a successful maintainer, having lost
137 pounds and kept it off now for nearly 2 years

The difference between losers and maintainers

As I was researching this subject of long term maintenancerecently, I was surprised at the huge amount of researchthat’s already been done in this area.

One paper that caught my interest was published by Judy Kruger andcolleauges in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition andPhysical Activity, titled,

“Dietary and physical activity behaviors among adults successfulat weight Loss maintenance.”

This was not an experimental study, but a compilation of data fromthe “Styles survey” which was representative of the US populationand asked respondents questions about strategies to aid withmaintaining an ideal weight.

In this particular survey, only one-third (30.96%) or the respondents said they weresuccessful at keeping their weight off. The researchers wanted toknow the difference between the small group that was successfuland the majority that were not.

There were a lot of similarities among maintainers and non maintainers:

Both groups reduced the amount of food they consumed, they atesmaller portions, more fruits and vegetables, fewer fatty foodsand fewer sweetened beverages.

Not really any surprises there, but what we want to know mostis not what losers and maintainers have in common, but what themaintainers did that the losers didn’t.

four major differences emerged:

A significantly higher proportion of successful maintainers reportedexercising 30 minutes or more daily, and they also reported addingother physical activity (recreation, sports, physical work, etc) totheir daily schedules.

Lifting weights was also a distinguishing factor between groupsas substantially more successful maintainers included weighttraining in their exercise regimens than did the losers.

“Reducing sedentary activities” was also a significantdifference between those who successfully maintained and those whodid not (less TV watching, etc).

Many things are hotly debated among obesity and exercise science researchers today, but just abouteveryone agrees that exercise is critical for long term maintenance.

The next big difference that separated the successful maintainers fromthe unsuccessful was in their “self-monitoring behaviors” including:

  • tracking calories
  • tracking body weight
  • planning meals
  • tracking fat
  • measuring amount of food on plate

Unfortunately, these types of self monitoring behaviors, especially weighingand measuring food, planning meals on paper and counting calories, areamong the most avoided or even criticized techniques. Some “experts” evenclaim that it’s unnecessary to count calories, track results, weigh yourselfor measure and weigh your food.

However, these self monitoring behaviors are being identified more and more frequently as part of”the difference that makes the difference.” I agree, as they have alwaysplayed a major role in my own Burn The Fat program

A fourth and final difference was that people who reportedself-perceived “barriers” to their success were 48-76% lesslikely to be a successful maintainer.

For example, they said they had no time to exercise, they were tootired to exercise or it was too hard to maintain an exercise routine.(I interpret this as: unsuccessful maintainers were excuse makers!)

Based on these findings (and the previous research confirmed bythese findings), here are…


1. Increase activity, including formal exercise as well as sports,physical work or recreational activity.

2. Include weight training as part of your formal exercise program

3. Track and monitor everything – count and track calories and nutrients,measure your food portion sizes, plan your meals and menus in writing andmonitor your body weight.

4. Avoid excuses and maintain positive beliefs and attitudes towards yourenvironment and what you perceive as “barriers” (for example, “I can alwaysmake time for what is most important to me” versus, “I don’t have time toexercise,” etc.)

If you’re currently engaged in the fat loss journey, and you want toknow how good your odds are for being a successful maintainer, it’spretty easy to predict using these simple guidelines.

If you’re not using all 4 of these strategies yet, then when today wouldbe a good time to start?

There are limitations to survey results such as these, including the factthat they are cross sectional, and therefore cannot prove causality.

However, I believe these findings are important and significant.

Not only do they match previous similar studies and agree with the findingsof other groups of successful maintainers (such as the National Weight Control Registry), I found that these results match precisely what I’ve seenamong my most successful “Burn The Fat” clients.

THIS is the type of advice I’d suggest you listen to the most: Adviceabout how to lose bodyFAT (not bodyWEIGHT) and how to maintain an ideal bodyweight and body composition over the long haul, not howto lose it as fast as possible.

In closing, I’d urge you to consider the words of EM Gray,who in “The Common Denominator Of Success” wrote:

“The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is thatsuccessful people are willing to do what the unsuccessful people arenot.”

Your friend and coach,

Tom Venuto

PS There was one more difference that made the difference that I forgotto mention. And this one may surprise you (although it doesnt surprise me).Successful maintainers were LESS likely to take over the counter dietproducts (pills, etc)

Copyright 2007, Burn The Fat Blog.com. Do not copy

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