If you’ve ever started a diet, you know how hard those first few weeks can be. However, what if the plan called for you to not lose any weight for the first eight weeks? They’d probably get your attention, right? Well, a recent article in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology says the key to successful weight loss may be spending several weeks actually not trying to lose weight.
Michaela Kiernan, PhD. was the lead author in this new study. Psych Central reported that she and the researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine took an approach to weight loss that involved asking women in a study to not lose weight for the first eight weeks of a 28-week study. Instead they spent that time working on mastering the skills of weight maintenance. The concept was posed that if one could learn to maintain weight before they lost it, they might stand a better chance of avoiding a yo-yoing, where they’d regain several pounds once they completed the diet.
The researchers contrasted these women with a group who worked on the the 20-week weight loss portion of the program first and then moved into maintenance skills for the final eight weeks. The women were then released for the remainder of the year to navigate their lives with the skills they learned. When all the women returned at the end of the year, those in the maintenance-first group had regained the least amount of weight. The maintenance-first group only regained three pounds on average where the immediate dieters regained an average of seven pounds.
The researchers feel the three-pound average falls right within the levels that the group was taught was acceptable for maintenance. This raises the argument that dieting can be counterproductive if one can’t learn to live normally with food. Many always feel they are either “on” or “off” a diet, but never a happy medium of maintenance. Teaching the greater value of managing weight and learning to account for holidays, special indulgences, or vacations is a major skill that seems to have been overlooked in our diet crazed society.
Perhaps the next time you want to shed a few pounds, start by not losing an ounce, rather focus on learning to maintain your current weight and then move on to the diet.