Six Patterns for Weight Loss Management

Researchers Say Certain Habits Can Maintain Weight Loss Efforts

By Kelli A. Miller

WebMD Medical News, Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
on Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Has dieting got you down? Concentrating more on your behavioral patterns and less on your middle may help keep off the pounds for good.

A study published in the July 2004 Nursing Science Quarterly reports that 18 women who lost 10% of their body weight and kept it off for at least a year did so by embracing six behavioral patterns.

Study author Diane Berry, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Nursing, evaluated the weight loss experiences of 20 women, aged 33 to 82, who were enrolled in Weight Watchers or Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS). Berry questioned the women about their childhood, their relationships with others, stable periods of time in life, and major life-changing events.

Ninety percent of the women successfully maintained a weight loss of 15 pounds to 144 pounds for a period of one to 27 years. Those who were successful exhibited six common trends. The patterns involved an initial period of chaos, followed by a time of conscious decision-making, and the development of new behaviors.

1. In pattern one, women exhibited self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and a high sense of vulnerability before losing weight. They were also naïve regarding events that contributed to their weight gain.

2. Pattern two involved problem recognition and a readiness to change. Making a decision to lose weight gave the women more overall energy, according to the study.

3. Pattern three revealed the women taking control and engaging in behavior change. During this phase, women felt empowered and experienced a new sense of control over their lives in general.

4. Pattern four showed women regularly incorporating the new behaviors into their life, such as routine exercise and food portion control. All women reported an increased awareness of food.

5. Pattern five showed that social support was immensely valuable in reinforcing behavior change. Attending weekly weight loss meetings offered comfort and helped foster new friendships. Some women required more support than others.

6. Pattern six brought increased self-confidence, self-esteem, and weight loss maintenance. Positive energy abounded across the group. Once women reached this step, weight loss was maintained.

While many diets can help shed pounds, most provide only short-term success. Researchers say close study of the six patterns may shed new understanding on why some women can maintain weight loss while others cannot.

Study source: Berry, D. Nursing Science Quarterly, July 2004; vol. 17: No. 3.

© 2004 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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