Be a Successful Loser with Anne Fletcher MS, RD

WebMD Live Events Transcript; Event Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2004

By Anne Fletcher MS, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Live Events Transcript

Do you feel like you can't win at losing? Do you diet, but then gain it all back and more? If so, get some insight from someone who has talked with the masters -- men and women who have lost weight and kept it off. We learned what it takes to maintain a healthy weight for life when Anne M. Fletcher, MS, RD, LD, author of "Thin for Life," joined us on Sept. 8, 2004.

If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Welcome to WebMD Live, Anne. It seems everybody from Atkins to Dr. Phil, from South Beach to L.A. has a sure-fire way for us to lose weight. Where do we even begin to select the right method or plan?

Much of what I'm going to say today will be couched in my findings from more than 200 people who have lost weight and kept it off. Specifically, I located 208 people who have lost an average of 64 pounds and kept it off for an average of about 11 years. And when I asked them how they were successful after many failed attempts at weight loss, they essentially told me "I had to find something that was right for me." In other words, what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another; it's a highly individual process.

You interviewed a lot of people for your book who were able to keep off their weight. My question is, were any of them able to ever stop obsessing about what they ate? I hate how thinking about food all the time consumes so much mental energy!

What I found when I asked people if it gets easier over time during maintenance of weight loss is that yes, it does get easier with time. In the beginning, vigilance, a fair amount of paying attention to detail when you're maintaining weight loss, is in order. But it starts to become a way of life. And the need to be as vigilant subsides for most people, I would say. For instance, many people counted fat grams and paid attention to calories when they first lost weight but they don't do it as frequently now. They might do it if they gained back a few pounds, but not necessarily every single day. With time, it becomes a way of life.

I've been struggling with my weight for quite some time. Earlier this year I joined a gym and started working out three to five days per week. Generally, I will do about 30-45 minutes of cardio and some light weight training. I have lost weight, gained it back, and lost it again. I also tried Xenadrine, which worked for the first week and helped me lose another 10 pounds. I seem to have hit a plateau in my weight loss, and it's getting me down. I can't seem to control my portions when I eat, and I'd just like to know if you have any advice.

First I would ask if you have had or would consider any professional counseling with a registered dietician or some other health professional who has expertise with weight management. This might give you some insights into the barriers that are getting in your way and perhaps might inform you about some little things you're doing that you might not be aware of that are impeding your progress.

I did find that at least periodically about two out of three of these masters of weight control, which is the term I use to describe these weight loss success stories, keep track of what they eat. In other words, they might keep a diet diary to keep track of food groups in their mind. It might help you to journal exactly what you're eating, and sometimes it helps to keep track of your thoughts and activities while you're eating. This can help you identify patterns of behavior that might be getting in your way.

But again, a health professional with training in this area might better be able to help you sort that out.

How long do you have to keep a food diary? Just during the weight loss, or also during maintenance?

I think the length of time varies from person to person. Personally, I find it helpful to keep a food diary when my weight is up 5 pounds. I keep it until my weight is back down again. It makes me aware of all the little things I do in a day's time that might add up that I'm not aware of. Diet diaries also make people feel more accountable for what they're eating, and part of it is, "Oh, do I really want to eat those 15 peanuts, because I'm going to have to write it down." Some people do it just a few days out of the week. One person told me she might do it one week out of the month. I think you have to find what's right for you.

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