6 Proven Habits for Successful Weight Loss

6 Proven Habits for Successful Weight Loss

By Tracey Walton wlr team


There are lots of shoulds, shouldn’ts and theories in the world of dieting and weight loss.

And even when you do find a way of losing weight that works for you, your odds of keeping it off are slimmer, it seems, than the odds of you staying slim. There are lots of people around who are testament to that. It may have happened to you at various points in your life.

So what’s a person supposed to do?

The same thing we do to accomplish things like walking, talking and cooking - learn from people who have managed to figure it out, and practice until we can do what they do.

These 6 behaviours come from the results of the Lean Habits Study1 - considered the world-wide largest study on behaviour and body weight, which studied over 7000 people who wanted to lose weight and followed them up over three years.

The people from this study who successfully lost weight and kept it off, maintained some, or all of the following behaviours. With the most likely to be successful having at least 5 of them.

1 - Food Choice

Choosing to eat fewer sugary and fatty foods with a preference for fresh fruit and vegetables.

It’s important to note that this does not mean banning certain foods, rather eating less of the junk and more of the good stuff. See #6 below.

Tips for getting started

  • Whatever meal you are eating, cover half your plate with veg or salad.
  • Swap one of your regular sweet snacks for a piece of fruit.
  • When you do want a high calorie snack, eat half your normal portion, slowly, you'll likely be just as satisfied.
  • Be conscious of what you're feeding, and not feeding, your body - you want it to remain healthy, right?

2 - Meal Rhythm

Eating regular meals at regular times of day, not skipping meals and not snacking and nibbling between meals.

Tips for getting started

  • Plan, and provide for, meals that will suit your schedule on any given day. Research has shown that using a diet plan helps weight loss in more ways than simply controlling energy intake
  • Include a reasonable amount of protein (around 15-20% of calories) in your lunchtime meal.
  • Try to eat your meals within the same 1-hour window each day.

3 - Meal Situations

This is the way you eat your meals, for example sitting down, taking time and rest for eating and/or the avoidance of other activity while eating.

Tips for getting started

  • Give yourself time and space to enjoy your meal.
  • Focus on the food you're eating rather than the TV, computer or your mobile.
  • Pay attention to how your body is feeling, try to recognise when it's had enough.

4 - Physical Activity

This includes physical activity in everyday life as well as getting regular exercise

Tips for getting started

  • Use opportunities to move more as they present themselves throughout your day - take the stairs, park in the carpark's furthest corner, use the upstairs loo, don't drive anywhere that takes less than 10-15 minutes to walk.
  • Be conscious of how long you stay sitting in one place, at your desk for example. Get up and move around for a couple of minutes at least once every hour.
  • Include at least a couple of real exercise sessions into your week, brisk walking counts, build your frequency and/or session length up over time.
  • Try some 'active' activities you might enjoy - anything from gardening to a game of badminton will help.   

5 - Coping with Stress

Taking action to lessen feelings of stress, conscious relaxation and getting a grip on eating for emotional reasons.

Tips for getting started

  • Identify times you eat to provide relief from negative emotions, think about what you could do instead of eating and/or what you could do about the possible causes of those emotions.
  • Get enough sleep on a regular basis, you need at least 7 to 8 hours.
  • Recognise times when you're 'stressed out'. Purposefully allow yourself time, even if it's only a few minutes, to unwind. Whether that be going for a walk, listening to music or using a relaxation technique.

6 - Flexible Control of Eating

Flexible control is a graduated ‘more or less’ approach to eating and weight control, which is understood as a permanent task. All foods are allowed - in reasonable quantities.

This is as opposed to ‘rigid control’ – an all or nothing approach, where periods of strict dieting alternate with periods of no effort to control. Rigid control includes attempts to totally avoid favourite foods like chocolate and sweets.

Tips for getting started

  • Start from where you are now. Keep a food diary for a while and build your awareness of the mismatch between your actual daily energy (calorie) needs, and the amount of energy you are consuming.
  • Take note of the foods and portion sizes that are causing you the biggest problems and think about how you could lessen their impact without leaving yourself feeling deprived.
  • Get in touch with what your body needs, for your health and your weight, and try to feed it accordingly.
  • Feed your heart and mind with something other than extra calories.

How wlr can help

The wlr food diary and other tools can help and support you through the process of learning to eat well and getting in touch with what your body really needs. Take a free trial to see how it works, start your free trial here.

Take our FREE trial »

References & More Info

1 Behavioural correlates of successful weight reduction over 3 y. Results from the Lean Habits Study International Journal of Obesity

Lean Habits Study, Strategies for successful maintenance of reduced body weight. Prof. Dr. Joachim Westenhoefer fachhochschule hamburg university of applied sciences

Validation of the flexible and rigid control dimensions of dietary restraint International Journal of Eating Disorders

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