If your closets are packed with skinny jeans, fat pants and in-between ones (with drawstrings), you know the only thing tougher than getting slim is staying slim. You’re not alone. Statistics like this are rampant: “Eight out of 10 dieters regain their lost weight within two years.” Now a compelling new study suggests why: The things that make you slim are not what keep you slim. You need a different skill set.
When diet experts at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., polled nearly 1,200 successful dieters, they found that those who maintained an impressive 30-pound weight loss for at least a year shared some secrets.
To stay slim, it turns out, you need to stay positive, regularly giving yourself praise, rewards, pep talks and back-pats for staying on track. Forget modesty. Tell yourself daily, “Great job!”
Mental Switch 1: Find new thrills. Dieting has its own built-in rewards system. So give yourself frequent prizes for sticking with it: a great new top, an iTunes spree, a massage, new sneakers or just time doing something you love.
Mental Switch 2: Love your new body. Do you feel jubilant about the new you or frustrated that you’re not model-perfect? Feeling good about your success can be critical to whether you maintain or regain. Ask friends and family for extra support.
Mental Switch 3: Adopt a “can-do” philosophy. Will you gain back a pound or two? Probably. What matters most is what happens next, and that depends on your attitude and environment, not just your fork or your feet. Don’t go on a binge because you had a sundae on Sunday. Do what you would do if you made a mistake on the highway: Turn around and fix it.
Mental Switch 4: Learn to say “Ah,” not “Oh, no.” One of the biggest differences between people who make successful YOU-turns after a post-diet glitch and those who regain weight is stress. Regainers’ tension levels are about 20 percent higher. If you tend to stress-eat, learning to stay calm will keep you in your skinny pants.
Mental Switch 5: Check the scales. Not sure how much you can eat after losing? Find out by keeping your feet in touch with your bathroom scales. Seventy-five percent of successful losers weigh in at least once a week.
Mental Switch 6: Find 8½ minutes a day. It’s no surprise that sticking with the workout that helped make you skinny can help keep you there. But did you know that the difference between relapsing and maintaining is just 8.5 minutes per day (one hour a week)? People who recover from little weight-gain lapses total about an hour more of exercise per week than those who regain. Eight and a half minutes a day? YOU can do that!
The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.
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