At heart I am a mathematician, and so I like my information to be certain and provable! I’ve had a difficult time of it since I got involved in the weight loss world, because there are perfectly good facts out there, but also a huge amount of information that is basically a myth – in other words, a lot of people believe it, but there is no scientific evidence to support it. The (often difficult) job is to sort out what are good facts and what is a myth!
I saw an online course that seemed right up my street – Making Sense of Health Evidence, run by Cardiff University. I’ve just finished the course, and it was excellent. Apart from anything else it covered how to take some advice – for example ‘don’t eat too few calories, because Starvation Mode will kick in, and halt your weight loss’ – and search the internet to find out whether the advice is based on scientific fact, or whether it’s a myth. Very useful!
Since the course I have been looking at things in a new light, and in particular the question that is important for me at the moment – what do I need to do to maintain my weight loss, now and forever? What I decided to do was to see what scientific studies have been done on the subject of long-term weight loss.
I found a good study, Long-term weight loss maintenance by Rena Wing and Suzanne Phelan, which looked at the experiences of 1,400 people who had lost a lot of weight. Among many other things they found that only one in five had kept their weight off for a year, but the successful ones continued to exercise a lot, ate a low-fat diet, ate breakfast regularly, weighed themselves often (nearly half weighed themselves at least once a day), and kept the same eating pattern seven-days-a-week. The authors say that successful weight-loss maintainers continue to act like recently-successful weight losers for many years after their weight loss. So that seems like a good guide to what I should be doing.
I much prefer reading scientific studies to reading the newspaper, or even to watching Trust Me, I’m A Doctor. The studies are usually free of charge and not difficult to find; you just need to know where to look. But there is a health warning: from personal experience I can tell you that DietGeeks can spend hours of their lives in front of the computer, reading scientific studies!