Are healthy weekday habits the key for weight loss?
When it comes to developing healthy habits that last, new research suggests that paying attention to what we eat during the week is an important strategy.
A study from Brian Wansick, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University and author of the book Slim By Design, found that people who want to lose weight ought to lighten up about enjoying themselves a little on the weekends – and pay more attention to how they eat during the work week.
Weight fluctuation may be normal
The research suggests that nearly everyone loses weight during the week, when there is typically more structure and routine in daily life. But most people also gain this weight back over the weekend.
“Almost to a person, we weigh the most Sunday night and we weigh the least Friday morning,” Wansink said.
Yet the people who can successfully lose weight and keep it off are those who can maintain their healthy habits during the week. Being able to "compensate" more strictly during the week for weekend indulgences was related to losing more weight, not surprisingly.
But the idea isn't necessarily rooted in a calories-in, calories-out formula. Rather, learning to accept fluctuations and change your behavior after a day or weekend of indulgence is the real game-changer, the study found. Those who see weight gain on Sunday night and then throw in the towel on a diet altogether, for example, were the ones more likely to gain weight than people who could simply accept it as natural and get back on track Monday morning.
Forgiveness is OK
According to registered dietitian Joy Dubost, the study “confirms suspicions that many dietitians have had for a while that your weight does fluctuate and it’s OK to forgive that because fluctuation occurs naturally.”
Dubost says the research exemplifies that weight loss truly is a journey.
“If you’re too restrictive and you don’t allow any flexibility and you don’t allow those short-term splurges, that may not set you up for success long-term,” she said. “People who are successful at weight loss are those who see it as a lifetime journey.”
The study is published in the journal Obesity Facts.
Photo credit: mikumistock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net