Dear Dr. Baskett: I usually make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight but never seem to stay with it. What can I do?

Dear Reader: With the beginning of the new year, many of us are thinking about our New Year's resolutions. We are convinced that we will change for the better; that this new year will be a time of rebirth, so to speak. For a change, try to think about the importance of perseverance and being a “work in progress.”

Instead of making resolutions, try to set a few goals. Then outline the specific action steps you will take to meet those goals. When it comes to weight management, there is no miracle drug, diet or device that will melt away those pounds. It does take effort and willingness to stay the course on your journey, one segment at a time.

We often hear that most people will gain their weight back, so the thinking can be, “Why even bother to lose weight in the first place? I am just going to put it all back on anyway,” when, in fact, that does not have to be true. There are people who have lost weight and have been quite successful in maintaining their weight.

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), established in 1994 by Rena Wing, Ph.D, from Brown Medical School, and James O. Hill, Ph.D, from the University of Colorado, is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. Given the prevailing belief that few individuals succeed at long-term weight loss, the NWCR was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. The registry tracks over 5,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight (25 pounds to more than 200 pounds) and kept it off for long periods of time. Detailed questionnaires and annual follow-up surveys are used to examine the behavioral and psychological characteristics of weight maintainers, as well as the strategies they use to maintain their weight.

Some of the action steps that these people took to meet their goal of weight loss and then weight maintenance include:

  • Eating breakfast everyday.
  • Keeping accurate food records.
  • Exercising 60 to 90 minutes each day.
  • Weighing regularly.
  • Seeing their health care provider on a regular basis.

So, for those of you that have lost weight and kept it off, I encourage you to participate in the NWCR. There is no charge to do so and all information is confidential. You have things to share with others and will make a contribution to science. For those of you who are just beginning your weight loss journey or are somewhere on that road, know that the time will come when you may participate in this study.

The study is open to both medical and surgical weight loss patients. Visit http://www.nwcr.ws/ for further information about the registry.

Dr. Kathleen T. Baskett is medical director of the St. Vincent Healthcare Weight Management Clinic.

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