How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

Mar 16, 2020 · 338 comments
LF (Here)
Like many folks stated, fasting works for me as well. Intermittent fasting anywhere from 16-20 hours is my daily routine. Maybe once a week I eat bacon or eggs in the morning because my husband cooks it. And it’s good. I just completed my first extended fast of 40 hours, which was totally doable. I would note I didn’t workout during the fast. I usually workout 4x/60min each week. I eat lots of protein, vegetables and fruit as well as quality dairy (good cheese, plain 5 percent Greek yogurt, butter, milk in my coffee). I don’t miss pasta, potatoes, or rice. And I don’t miss ice cream or chocolate or baked desserts. I just lost the taste for them having skipped them while losing weight. Now they’re either too heavy or too sweet. When I do occasionally have something more caloric it’s good bread with lots of butter or delicious cheese pizza or a few chips. And occasionally wine. I’m keeping 75 lbs. off. For life!
betaneptune (NJ)
"calorie-rich vittles, many of them tasty but deficient in ingredients that nourish healthy bodies." Ever look at the Nutrition Facts on a can or bag of vegetables? Mostly a lot of zeros and single-digit numbers. (Exception: carrots have a ton of Vit. A.) But 4 oz. of Froot Loops with 2 cups of milk has 15% to 35% of Vitamins A, C, D, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folic Acid, B12, and Zinc. Now, you tell me which "nourish healthy bodies"? Ref:.
betaneptune (NJ)
@betaneptune - Uh, make that 1 oz. of Froot Loops with 1/2 cup of milk. So 4 oz. gives you an average of 100% of all the nutrients I listed.
Amit Sharma (India)
Really, it is too valuable and knowledgeable article , i like it a lot, means, you should eat normally and do regular exercise. You can also checkout this one"".
Adam (Virginia)
Great article. It really inspired me. I had weight issues ever since I was medically retired from the military 12 years ago. I kept failing after a little while. I was inspired by my family events and this content to try and push through. I also figured why not make it public to provide more pressure to keep going. So I just started Fat Dad Trying last week with that in mind. You can check out the origin story here: Thanks again and keep up the great work.
Liz DiMarco Weinmann (New York, NY)
Face it: Noom and LoseIt are literally eating WWs lunch and have been using the principles of this so-called breakthrough research for years now. LoseIt is non-invasive, self-directed, and it works with simple tracking systems. I love LoseIt - after using WW 10 years ago and then finding it so complex I quit. WW would be so much more helpful *if*: 1) it did not change its ridiculous algorithm and tracking systems every year, whenever a savvy quant figures out the so-called secret to its points system, and copies it without needing to pay WW for it; 2) it respected the intelligence of its members, not subjecting them to a quasi-12-step meeting paradigm that is as antiquated as it is humiliating; and, 3) it did not continue to employ old-time food industry shills like Gary Foster, who has been pushing “moderation” for decades, for a variety of food industry giants. Regardless of who WW partners with to make Foster seem more credible, he’s on their dime, has been for decades, and WW is not the first to devise a program of “no” dieting, use food diaries, and exercise to moderate/mitigate effects of indulgence. It’s just the last to that already-happening party.
It’s not a wife’s responsibility to not bring something into the house because her husband “can’t resist” it. He’s a grown man, and only he decides what he eats or doesn’t eat. This is old-fashioned and misogynistic, aka, “It’s her fault.”
@UES It's got nothing to do with traditional roles. My husband and I go through the same thing, in both directions. When one of us is feeling "weak" in the grocery store and brings home something that's "junk food," we BOTH have a hard time resisting it.
gf (ny)
I agree. The wife is not responsible for the husband eating a cookie. I do think the person doing the meal planning, shopping and cooking can be influential in a good way by having healthy foods on hand and serving healthful meals regularly. Treats are treats and perhaps someone else in the family might like a cookie or you might want to have some to serve guests. That guy needs to grow up.
Dobbie M.B. (Worcester, MA)
@gf No, "that guy" does not need to grow up. It is just human nature to want to eat that sweet thing when you are having a blood sugar low around 4 in the afternoon. I tell my husband not to bring home sweets precisely for that reason. If you must bring home sweets when someone in your household is trying to lose weight for health reasons, put them in your secret hiding place. Be humane rather than PC.
Jamal Ismail (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
It's not easy, but I hated being fat enough to change myself, so I did. There are some weight loss strategy , on following theme we can loss our weight. thanks for the recherche on weight loss. Its so helpful for me.
Dr. Conde (Medford, MA.)
Although sometimes a drag, I think cooking and weekly if possible shopping is key. Even being at home, I keep a lot of the same habits as when working, making a big pot of soup, having simple breakfast foods (husband likes Cheerios with banana), fruit, carrots, matzoh for snacks, yogurt, and basic dinners like pasta with tomato sauce or chicken. This sounds trite, but every meal eaten out is probably a lot more fattening. There should be some joy and comfort of food, but most of the time, not so much. And I think daily exercise is very important in maintaining a a healthy weight for mental and physical reasons. All of one's habits make the difference.
Daniel Wagle (Decatur, GA)
I have maintained a 100 pound weight loss for ten years now. I don't agree that exercise is not helpful for weight loss. My experience is that perhaps exercising just 2 or 3 days a week is not that helpful for weight loss. However, I find that exercising everyday IS helpful for weight loss. I lost this weight by bicycling for transportation everyday to work and even to the stores on my off days. I go everywhere on my bike. I still ride my bike everyday and it has helped me to maintain my weight loss. The National Weight Loss Registry which researches people who have maintained a weight loss over years, finds that the vast majority of these persons exercised regularly throughout their weight loss and maintenance journey. So perhaps, the amount of exercise that most people would do is not that helpful for weight loss. However, really building exercise into one's everyday life can be very helpful for weight loss.
Debby Leschyn (Belmont, CA)
Everything is on the table. For food addicts this is a recipe for disaster. Overeaters Anonymous is free and offers tremendous support for those who suffer from food addiction and obsessive food behaviors. I dropped 60 lbs ten years ago using the OA program and moderate exercise. I have maintained that weight loss since then.
Debby Leschyn (Belmont, CA)
Everything is on the table. For food addicts this is a recipe for disaster. Overeaters Anonymous is free and offers tremendous support for those who suffer from food addiction and obsessive food behaviors. I dropped 60 lbs ten years ago using the OA program and moderate exercise. I have maintained that weight loss since then.
Debby Leschyn (Belmont, CA)
Everything is on the table. For food addicts this is a recipe for disaster. Overeaters Anonymous is free and offers tremendous support for those who suffer from food addiction and obsessive food behaviors. I dropped 60 lbs ten years ago using the OA program and moderate exercise. I have maintained that weight loss since then.
MollyMu (Denver)
It would be nice if Ms. Brody reported on the study rather than about herself per usual. We know you have been successful, but you are not a scientific study. A succinct review of the scientific article would have been very beneficial. I will just go to the original. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
Boregard (NYC)
I was asked by a very overweight niece what she could do lose weight. I'm the healthy eater, constant exerciser (former Trainer) in the clan, so I often get these Q's. I paused, looked around the table and said, "Can I be really, really honest?" A few relatives, her mother for one, cringed, others nodded, as did the niece. First I admitted I had no idea, because she was so overweight. My knowledge is more aligned to my body type. Lean, and muscled, but not oversized. I only trained clients who had already lost a lot of weight, or those like me seeking a bump. Second I said, your main goal/s should be eliminating the real and self-inflicted obstacles in your path. Not sweep them aside, but to eliminate as much as possible. To look at them like a heap of tangled and sharp and dangerous to touch objects. That when you pull on one, you will pull on others, and cause the heap to shift, collapse and reconfigure. Its not gonna be easy, because you've been adding new obstacles to that heap every year. Its not just your asthma, there are plenty of elite athletes with worse cases. Its not just your Rx pysch-meds. Its not just your self image, supported by the whole Large is beautiful culture. Its not that you cant stick to a diet, or that you allegedly hate to exercise. Its the whole heap. Each piece in that heap is not alone, as if on a shelf to pull out, analyze and toss aside. To truly lose and keep the weight off, you gotta start taking apart that heap, and its gonna hurt.
Monica (Mississippi)
I am overweight; probably, like your niece, very overweight. Therefore, I found your first response that you couldn’t help her because of the amount of weight she has to lose to be cruel, unnecessarily so. With that said, I found the rest of your commentary to be thoughtful and helpful. Maybe, you could lead with the last part the next time someone asks for your help. You do want to be helpful, right ?
Debby Leschyn (Belmont, CA)
@Boregard Refer your niece to overeaters anonymous. There are online meetings as well as face to face meetings in most places. No charge and tremendous support. She may also try the Recovery Group. Also no charge. There are many recovering compulsive eaters there who maintained weight loss of 100 lbs and more in those rooms. There are meetings these days being held via Zoom all over the country. My local intergroup is She may find a home there and recovery. Good luck to her.
someone over 50 (CT)
@Monica Boregard was correct in how she responded. She’s not a medical doctor and does not know how to proceed with such extensive weight loss. There are many things to consider. What works for her, will not necessarily work for her niece.
Barry (Los Angeles)
Calories in, calories out. Moderation. Those old chestnuts again? Plus exercise doesn't burn that many calories to begin with. You can't really "work off" the metabolic effects of a fast carb like a bagel or doughnut. And is weighing yourself everyday a constructive habit or one that leads to unwanted stress in chasing a number?
someone over 50 (CT)
@Barry weighing myself daily helps me stay within two or three pounds of my target range. It never gets out of control.
Kate (Oregon)
I was interested in the research on weight loss maintenance but frustrated that this article turned into anecdotes about the author and friends- It’s just more bland dieting advice focusing on personal psychology as the cause for obesity without even mentioning real biological factors, like adaptive thermogenesis or low lepton levels that stymie long term weight maintenance for most people The numbers don’t lie- people who keep weight off after losing it are the exception and it’s not all psychological . The difficulty in keeping weight off reflects biology, not a pathological lack of willpower affecting two-thirds of the U.S.A., Obesity is a complicated public health crisis and is not going to solved by people keeping food journals.
Susan (Los Angeles)
From my heaviest, I've lost around 70 pounds. I did it in stages by completely rethinking the way I eat. I am never 'on a diet' because that entails something temporary. For me, to permanently keep weight off (and I've been at this weight +/- 4 pounds for 8 years) is a lifestyle change and a new way of thinking. There have been times when I've gained a few pounds--periods of extreme stress, when I've overindulged in comfort M&Ms or after recent hip replacement surgery (prune juice is very high in calories), but those extra lbs. vanished when I went back to my new normal eating habits. It's not easy, but I hated being fat enough to change myself, so I did. It's all second nature to me now.
Monica (Mississippi)
I’ve tried every diet imaginable and have not loss over 15 lbs on any of them. My weight is one of the first things I think about when I wake up and one of the last things at night. I exercise assiduously, but I eat basically what I want - not overeating or unhealthily but it is still too much for my body after years of yo-yo dieting. If I had not tried to lose weight in the first place, just accepted my large thighs, butt and teeny upper body, I would probably be ok. However, I tried to conform to the Eurocentric model of beauty - no thighs (or now even worse a thigh gap), no butt, and large breasts which I had no possibility of obtaining. Every time I dieted and lost 5 to 10 pounds, it came back double. People look at you and say, you aren’t really trying - not true ( or it wasn’t). I’m terrified to “diet” now because I finally realized that it makes me fatter. Since I stopped dieting, I haven’t lost but I haven’t gained. If only I had had the wherewithal when I was younger to accept my beautiful body as it was made, I would be so much better off. A lot of people deride the “large is beautiful” culture but science is revealing that for some people the fight to get thin and stay thin is not realistic. Our bodies fight to put the weight back. So kudos to you, maybe you were never a part of that unfortunate few, but for those of us who maybe, do we have a right to not “hate” ourselves? If we hate being fat and we are fat, aren’t we essentially saying we hate ourselves?
Real Food (Long Island, NY)
@Susan Yes, prune juice is high in calories, eat the whole prune.
May (Europe)
there are indeed some people who have hyperthyroid problems and whose metabolism is shot to hell. Try as they might, they don't lose weight.
Kate (Italy)
@May I would disagree. I too have hypothyroid and in the beginning I told myself that I couldn't lose the weight but it's 100% false. When your thyroid problems are properly treated, your metabolism works normally. You need to exercise calorie restriction just like any other person, the weight doesn't fall off, but with discipline and dedication it's most definitely possible. We should avoid making excuses for being overweight and hold ourselves accountable. Also according to numerous scientific studies the weight gain from hypothyroidism is actually quite limited, the rest is you just eating too much and not burning enough.
Barbara (SC)
The best diet is one you can stay on for the rest of your life. I lost at least 80 pounds and kept it off for more than 5 years that way. It was only when I stopped following my eating plan that I gained weight again. In fact, I had to eat more because I was getting too thin--that led to eating more, period. Eat what you like but control portions of high calorie foods, focussing on nutrition as well as taste. A sliver of pie or cake can be as satisfying a huge wedge if you take the time to eat it slowly and savor each bite. Try to eliminate the struggle of "willpower" by focussing on your goal. If you have a slim photo of yourself, you might put it on the fridge door, for example. In my experience, struggle is an enemy. If you are "dying" for a cookie, go for a walk instead, for example. If you still want a cookie when you return, have one. But chances are you will have forgotten about the cookie by then.
BamaGirl (Tornado Alley, Alabama)
I have a lot of rules. I don’t do battle with difficult decisions because so many things are just a No. I fully agree with keeping those cookies out of the house. I allow most things in moderation. Maybe one coke a month, maybe one bag of corn tortilla chips a month. Eat mostly plants, joyfully awaiting each new season. Never step into a fast food place. Eat less than an ounce of chocolate a day; it’s a vegetable! But no gooey sweet desserts. No mammals. Fried stuff only once or twice a year. You have to grow your intestinal flora like a garden. Grow the ones that live on lentils and cauliflower and that is what you will crave. Have the courage to be weird. Most people eat garbage.
Judith (Seattle)
@BamaGirl I lost all craving for sweets, in spite of having been a lifelong sugar hound, after just a couple of months on an anti-inflammation food regime called TQI. My new intestinal flora looked at all the cakes, pies and cookies at that year's Christmas parties and just said ICK!!! It was incredibly weird and funny and unexpected. You do not miss what you do not want. I lost 40 pounds nine years ago and none of it came back. My husband and I love what we eat, including that ounce of dark chocolate every day. We cheat once or twice a month, but easily come back to our "no wheat, no sugar, no dairy and no grains for breakfast" daily regime. It's only hard at first.
Alex (Naperville IL)
What a weird article. Where exactly is the information, clearly delineated, describing effective strategies? I know more about Jane Brody's personal experiences and the opinions of a for-profit company (WW) than I wanted to know, and not much else.
Jim Carter (Wisconsin)
@Alex Exactly what I thought, it's like she lost focus as she wrote it. Hopefully part 2 will be much better.
Cryptomeria (USA)
I'd love to keep more fresh fruits and vegetables on hand but our county is sheltering in place.
Barbara (SC)
@Cryptomeria this article is about the long haul, not the next few weeks or months. Eat the healthiest food you can find. Get creative with what you have on hand. Keep high calorie, low nutrition foods out of your house in general.
Richard C (Pacific NW)
Eating too much and carbohydrates are really the problem. Try a low carb diet and you will be amazed. Not saying to go full Keto or anything, but do consider all the carbs you eat turn instantly into sugar and then fat. Look at the labels of food you buy for included sugar. 4 gms is one teaspoon of pure sugar. Grapes are pure sugar. We all love bread but it is pure sugar. Yes, eat these on occasion but be aware. A piece of bread with breakfast is fine, just don’t repeat for lunch and dinner. I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia and lost six pounds without even trying on a very low carb diet.
Barbara (SC)
@Richard C Carbohydrates are essential for brain health, among other things. I eat a very low fat diet due to high cholesterol and don't eat more than a half dozen servings of meat a year. I lost 8 pounds in a couple of weeks when I switched to this.
The Pooch (Wendell, MA)
@Barbara _Blood_ glucose is required for the brain. Not dietary glucose. Dietary glucose is useful but not strictly essential, because the body has a pathway to make new glucose from other substrates.
Harry B (Michigan)
Obesity is a major risk factor during this pandemic. I’m sick of people making excuses , don’t come to the hospital begging for help when you are morbidly obese. Just stop making excuses. Smokers too.
mainstreetquilter (Massachusetts)
@Harry B way too harsh, Harry B.
SCZ (Indpls)
And if you're a food addict, Overeaters Anonymous will help you.
Ray L (NYC)
This article feels more like a “sponsored content” Article or paid submission! (From Weight Watchers) I know the article discloses that the study was funded and run by WW but where is the reporters skeptical questions, quoting a Dr Of Kinesiology with out explaining that The field of Kinesiology is mostly identified with Chiropractors (and are not licensed to practice nor diagnose medical issues) feels like a sin of omission, It’s amazing that the article quotes a study funded by WW which basically says WW’ program nest reflects what works (according to the study) Oh my beloved NYT’S what happen to you, how did this ever get published
Peg Rose (Montclair)
I couldn’t agree more.
M. M. L. (Netherlands)
@Ray L No sir, kinesiology is not mostly identified with chiropractors. Where did you get that notion? Kinesiology is the scientific study of the mechanics of body movement. Perhaps you should have checked Dr Phelan’s credentials before dismissing them. And while you were at it, check what Kinesiology really is.
Nina (NYC)
This article perpetuates diet culture and misconceptions of what is "healthy" to eat. It implies people "just" need to change their mindset and put into practice some very simple strategies to lose weight and keep it off. This article does not discuss the health at every size movement, the fallacies in the word "obese", and there is major weight stigma here: If you are in a larger body, you should be trying to be in a smaller body (i.e. smaller is better). I am really disappointed in the New York Times for publishing something so ignorant.
NativeSon (USA)
Fallacies of obese? Obesity is a medical condition, no different than other forms addictions and should be treated as the disease it is.
Robert (New York)
I used to be an obese and adolescent. I’ve lost 40 lbs., know what to eat, exercise everyday. Never underestimate he value of sustained exercise and movement thru the day. I eat healthy breakfast and lunch but let myself go for dinner almost every day including desert. As a I get older I don’t eat as much as I used to. It happens to most of us. The bottom line, have a plan,be disciplined, and follow thru what you know is the right thing to do.
Laurie Israel (Brookline, MA)
I did the Noon diet for 4 months and completed it around January 1 this year. It's not really a diet, it's an eating education program, that really helped me change my eating habits. I've kept it off, and also stay in a 2 pound range. I lost 25 pounds, and now am a normal (but still a tiny bit pudgy) weight. I'm enjoying my food more. I know how much each thing I eat costs (i.e., how many calories), and I'm on a reasonable daily calorie allocation that lets me retain the weight loss. I don't feel deprived. One of my techniques is to drink herbal tea during the day, especially in the afternoon.
C.E. (New Mexico)
This article misses the big psychological component of weight gain: emotional eating, especially for stress and enjoyment. We are tolerant of people drinking alcohol to manage their emotions and now cannabis is becoming more accepted, but eating too much food is forbidden if you start to gain weight. Bill Maher is an example. He finished his show a few months ago with a fiery diatribe against overweight people, yet practically in every show he praises cannabis and freely admits he uses it right after his show. I wonder what would happen if people who use alcohol, cannabis and other drugs to self-soothe had to forego them for a few months. I bet a lot of them, Bill Maher included, would eat more to compensate. They might even gain more weight, God forbid.
@C.E. You're kidding yourself a bit here. We're not that tolerant of people who drink alcohol to manage their emotions if they drink so much that they hurt others, or even embarrass themselves, once we get out of college. Cannabis is gaining in acceptance socially but is still illegal in most states and federally (being fat may keep you from getting a job, but testing positive for cannabis can cost you a number of jobs). And given that most adults in the nation are overweight, clearly eating too much is not forbidden. Exercise is good for managing emotions too, and unlike drinking too much (hangover) or eating too much (stuffed feeling), you not only feel better during it, you feel better afterwards too.
Vivian B (Franklin Township, NJ)
This is a very simplistic article and while some concepts are valid, it ignores other issues that contribute to weight gain and the inability to keep weight off. Age, for instance. Menopause. Medications that among their side effects include weight gain. Musculoskeletal changes that make exercise difficult or painful and unproductive. Genetics. The list goes on and on but weight loss is never "one size fits all."
EE (Denver)
This article says nothing new. The thing is, daily monitoring of weight, daily measuring, restricting, depriving, over exercising, is all a form (or in the way to) disordered eating. Why do we herald this type of behavior? Doesn’t it seem sad that Ms Brody herself who is 78 years old has spent the majority of her public adult life writing about this stuff? And after her however many thousands of columns, her personal, anecdotal advice is don’t bring cookies in the house. For real? The cultural desire for thinness is astounding. And unhealthy. Why do we think we should weigh at 60 what we weighed at 17? Marketing. A billion dollar diet industry. Don’t believe the hype. Move your body, eat well but don’t stress about it, accept that a few “extra” pounds are ok. (Also, “extra” by whose standard?) Get on with your life and spend you vast human intellect doing something other than counting carbs. Bodies come in different shapes. Bigger bodies are not bad bodies.
RMW (Forest Hills)
Here's a bit of novel advice to persons struggling with their weight, and managing techniques for permanent weight loss: learn from those who do not have this problem. Or have permanently overcome it. As an overweight kid who decided in his teen years to dramatically reduce his weight, and keep it off, here's what I do each day to maintain my weight within a range of 6 pounds - and which I have done successfully for the past 45 years. Moderate but consistent exercise. Check. Moderate daily caloric intake. Check. Healthy but fairly normal diet. Check. Most important: as the essay points out, weigh yourself each day to attack and arrest the daily (not weekly) slide towards weight gain. And do not tolerate even one pound on the plus side of the scale. You'll be surprised at how quickly that pound, if targeted, can be shed. Next: with each successive lost pound, rethink your acceptable weight zone to your lower number, so as not to unconsciously slip back to your previous weight median, which may have defined your weight standard, and which was once acceptable to you. Once you've come to the weight number you wish to lock in, long-term, manage this simple program with this number as your gold standard. That's it folks...oh, and don't be so hard on yourself. Within this common sense, long-term regimen, sliding up or down a few pounds don't mean a thing. Good luck.
Rae (New Jersey)
Successful weight loser and maintainer of weight loss for many years but I do not weight myself regularly as I do not like to do it or see fluctuating numbers. I simply go by how my jeans fit - jeans are my uniform - and I can tell how much I weigh within two or three pounds based solely on that. I like to fit into my jeans so my attention is immediately caught and a correction is made. It usually has to do with not drinking enough water or eating from stress.
sam g (berkeley ca)
Kind of a disappointing article. Particularly the conclusion about balancing "calories in and out". In fact all calories are NOT the same and some things that have zero calories --like artificial sweeteners-- raise one's insulin levels and makes one fat! Saying it's ok to eat anything if it is in moderation is also incorrect. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are much worse metabolically than other foods and need to be avoided at all cost...
Ok, so nobody in the house gets to eat cookies just because someone else in the house has no willpower? That is not a place where I want to live!
J Ithel (Lexington KY)
@FRITZ I mean, it's not like you love that person or anything.
Pablo (California)
Besides being obese I used to smoke and in 2007 I took bupropion to help me stop smoking. Bupropion is an antidepressant that is also used to help people stop smoking. I did stop smoking but I found that I felt so much better taking bupropion that I continued. I never considered myself depressed but I had to admit I felt so much better when I took the medication. In 2010 I tackled my weight and I lost 150 pounds over two years and I’ve kept it off for eight years through lifestyle change. All this time I’ve patted myself on the back, thinking I did this all myself until I recently found out that a new weight loss drug, Contrave, is mainly bupropion. I still don’t consider myself depressed but for once in my life I have the fortitude to continue with my lifestyle changes. Recently I read a statement that was somewhat humerus that said “Depression lurks behind almost every fat person, if you’re not fat because you’re depressed, you’re depressed because you’re fat.” So, honestly ask yourself if depression could be playing a part in your being overweight and if it is then get treated. It will make all the difference in the world.
Marissa D’Ambra (Brooklyn)
How was this study not a conflict of interest? It was co-authored and funded by Weight Watchers.
Nina (NYC)
@Marissa D’Ambra AGREE TOTALLY!!! This is all about being on a diet, which will ultimately fail . . . The body wants to be where the body wants to be. Deprivation in calories or in foods people enjoy will only lead to over consumption.
Anthony (AZ)
Humans may have created the visor, the seated position, electronics and ten billion other small and large things but They are the most boring animal on earth, and this article yet again proves it. Diet, article, article, diet, binge, purge, article Lose, gain, win, lose, article. It never ends, until you die of course, and then mercifully there is one less of us around.
Linda 64 (Boston, MA)
I get the food diary concept, but it’s way too much work. It’s not how I want to spend my time for the rest of my life.
Murray Bolesta (Green Valley Az)
Coronavirus was caused by the destruction of nature by humans eating meat. Man up to the truth: that extra fat on your belly or thighs represents the destruction of nature. No discipline, no pride, no shame. Meat, sugar, salt, waste of earth's resources! There's not much time left to reverse that mistake, folks.
Martina (Chicago)
@Murray Bolesta It was actually caused by humans eating bats, which carry a multitude of viruses. As one doctor said, let's leave the bat in the trees.
Pat (Colorado Springs CO)
Here is how to lose weight: get a parasitic infection like giardia where you lose 20 lbs in four weeks. I had so many people tell me they wished they had done that. "Not like me," I told them. I am still trying to gain weight back. It is very hard. Bacon is my meal of choice, haha. Go calories!
Tony (New York City)
Remember that the food industry works in secret. God knows what they are putting in our foods. Yes, they taste good but your health is more important. Try to eat healthy, that doesn't mean you wont get cancer but at least you have been trying to arm your body with the nutrients that you need to fight off disease and other worries of life Try to connect your mind with your body. Currently we are in stressful times so walk ,move,laugh and don't think about food. Think about your loved ones and doing good works. You will feel better
Martina (Chicago)
@Tony I find that making my own fresh food at home is the best alternative to processed foods. Yes, it takes time. Time to shop, to cook, to clean up. But I think it's worth it for healthful eating.
Marty (Tx)
I know all about losing weight . I’ve been doing it yearly - and gaining it back. I was skinny my whole life until I was put on a tricyclic antidepressant (for OCD) notorious for metabolic reactions. 70 pound weight gains were possible on this drug. At 57 I weighed 130; at 63 I weigh188. Sugar seemed like heroin on this drug. At my last exam my doctor looked at me and said, I think you’ve ruined your metabolism. My husband and I eat “clean” - fresh fruit and vegetables and grill lean meat - but, yes, I feast on holidays and eat pie and cake occasionally. But I look at friends who are skinnier than me and they’re eating ice cream sundaes and I’m eating an apple. Congrats to you who can keep it off but remember there are those who are working harder than you to maintain a healthy lifestyle but due to medication or other variables are losing the battle and sometimes just give up. Please don’t look down on us.
Mary M (Brooklyn)
do not eat too much food. that is it. so tired of this. you do not have to eat meals
RMW (Forest Hills)
@Mary M Yes!
@Mary M I wish your post could be put into blinking lights. There are many complex questions around how our bodies interact with food, but several analyses over the past decade have found that the rise in obesity can be explained by the fact that we're eating more calories than we did before: in a recent study, the estimate was that Americans are on average consuming 576 calories a day more than we did 50 years ago.
Eddie (anywhere)
Pay attention to your stomach -- not your lying eyes! Some people eat with their eyes and will consume any dish put in front of them. Others eat with their stomachs. You can often tell them apart by how quickly they eat. When I feel hungry, I eat two spoonfuls of hummus, then wait a while, and if I'm still hungry, maybe a another couple spoonfuls. Give your stomach time to tell your brain that it's doing fine.
Barbara Lee (Philadelphia)
Home-grown fruits and vegetables are great if you have space and are willing to put a little time and effort into gardening. My asparagus tub/plants did not survive the move to a new house, but about half of last year's planting (from seed) seems to have survived this winter, and I just reseeded the open spots, and am prepping another tub for an additional 5-6 plants. A decent harvest take about 4 years from seed, 3 from crowns, and the plants can produce for decades once established. I'll get a couple stalks this year from the oldest plants. Not much, it seems, but planting and working in the garden/tubs gets me outside, off my duff, and doing things. Sometimes things like hauling 50# bags of mulch, compost, filled pots, etc. The nibbles of greenery are far overshadowed by the other benefits I get from growing them. My strawberries started blossoming on Feb 2nd, and I have tiny green berries now. Figure out what works for you, do the best you can with it, be kind to yourself when there are setbacks. Find something rewarding that helps/will help when the praise dies down. Victory Garden 2020
Sharon (Washington)
@Barbara Lee I also loved the whole concept of tending a victory garden. But alas, these brown thumbs could never match my ambition or vision. Reading your delightful post allowed me to share your garden vicariously. Thank you and you go, girl!
Phobos (My basement)
From Sanford and Son: Aunt Esther: I lost 20 pounds! Fred: Look behind you, you'll find it!
Edward Abramson, Ph.D. (Lafayette, CA)
This is good advice but hardly new. For more than 20 years I've argued that dieting is a failed strategy for permanent weight control. For an analysis of flawed dieting see my San Francisco Chronicle article: or for a more practical advice my book:
Jed Rothwell (Atlanta, GA)
The Brown Medical School has a website and database of 10,000 case studies of people who lost weight and kept it off. That is, people who have lost 30 lb or more and kept it off for a year or more. Some of them for decades. The site includes many scientific papers. One important finding was that people who seek medical help to lose weight succeed more often than people who try to do it themselves. See:
Paul B (San Jose, Calif.)
@Jed Rothwell Thanks for the link. Interesting database and info.
Tom (Block)
Excuse me, but what is actually new information in this article?
uji10jo (canada)
Simple. You must realize Americans eat too much. average weight. men women France 77.1 kg (170 lb) 62.7 kg (138 lb) Germany 82.4 kg (181.7 lb) 67.5 kg (148.8 lb) Sweden 81.9 kg (180.6 lb) 66.7 kg (147.0 lb) UK – Wales 84.0 kg (185.2 lb) 69.0 kg (152.1 lb) United States 88.8 kg (195.8 lb) 76.4 kg (168.4 lb)
Susan (New Jersey)
Check out Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) at I found my answer in I was at war with myself for years regarding food and weight. After a lifetime of dieting, at 20 years old, 5'3" and 200 pounds, I was incredibly depressed and experienced constant feelings of hopelessness. I found freedom from the terrible cycle of dieting (when I felt hopeful, happy, and in control), and bingeing (when I experienced utter demoralization) through a free program called FA. FA is a 12-Step, 501(c)(3) organization with over 10,000 members worldwide and meetings all over the world and domestically. The concept of food addiction is controversial at this point in time, but it was a total bulls-eye for me, as I could never eat one of anything (especially sugar or flour items) without finishing the box or bag. It made sense to me that I could no more stop the hand-to-mouth with binge foods than an alcohol could suppress the compulsion to drink alcoholically. I have maintained an 80-pound weight loss for over 30 years through the FA program. And I haven't had to pay a dime. FA has long-distance sponsoring and although FA meetings are mostly suspended these days because of COVID19, there are many other tools to help someone get started towards freedom from food addiction.
Laurie (Ontario, Canada)
Our bodies are programmed to want to eat high calorie food and to retain weight. This was useful when we all lived at a time when food was scarce, but now with our over abundance of food choices, not so much. Food is also much more than just sustenance, it is social - we gather for dinner, we go out for drinks, we have parties. If we are happy we celebrate with food. If we are sad we console with food. If we are depressed we self soothe with food. This is hard to stop because it's so ingrained. We are also extremely susceptible to eating cues. If you watch tv, have you taken note at how many commercials are geared toward food? Popeyes, McD's, Wendy's, etc and all show happy people eating. You may not want to actually wander over to those places at the time, but it does remind you to eat and your kitchen is handy. I'm not skinny by any means, but works for me is to be aware of eating cues, to know my triggers (I cannot have potato chips in the house) eat real food in moderation, and do something active every day. Your mileage may vary.
EB (Earth)
I was glad to read this article. For too long, the "professionals" have been telling us that it is futile to try to lose weight, as you will always just put it back on. I find that message to be incredibly frustrating, as I personally know it to be untrue. I am 5'6". I used to weigh 180 pounds. But then about five years ago I changed my habits and quickly lost weight. I have been 120 pounds for four years now. (For me, cutting out alcohol was part of what worked. It is incredibly fattening, and also made me eat more. I'm now tee-total, and don't miss alcohol one little bit.) Yes, you need to be mindful of what you consume after you lose weight, and yes it can be easy to put back on. But putting it back on is not inevitable, and I think it's shameful that a message to the contrary has been consistently fed to the public for the past couple of years.
LC (midwest)
As many people point out, what works for one person may not work for others. I am offering this only in case it might help someone else. I’m a 48-year-old, 5’5” woman with an athletic build, but also with thyroid disease. Who knows what slowed down my metabolism—my age, my gender, my thyroid problem—but in any case, though I have *always* been heavier than I look, after becoming a distance runner a few years ago and making the classic rookie mistake of eating whatever I wanted, the scale gradually crept up...a lot. Combine this with a move to a year to France (ah, France) and a more sedentary job than usual while there, and, last August I was as heavy as I was after I gave birth 7 years ago. I *tried* intermittent fasting while away in Europe—I was super diligent about it, for 4 months. It did *not* work for me. The *only* thing that has worked, and it worked post-pregnancy too, is using the LoseIt calorie counting app PLUS serious exercise, and also trying not to eat back all the calories I burn through exercise. This seems to spark my metabolism, though I don’t beat up on myself if I run off 500 calories and then eat them back, either. I enter in *every single thing* I eat. I’ve been doing this for more than 200 days, and in that time I have gone from 207 lbs to 173, with 10-20 left to go. And I have realized that to keep it off, I will probably have to now do this forever, because, especially as a runner, portion control simply eludes me if I don’t.
sshapiro (California)
@LC I am a believer of the Lose It app as well. I've lost 55+ pounds, have reached my goal and continue to monitor and record my daily food intake. It's all about intake of healthy food, increasing metabolism and exercise. I agree that this is a long term- forever solution. This has been successful for me- good luck in your journey
Carrie Doehring (Denver)
While I also have been able to maintain my weight through long-term healthy habits, I know it takes a lot of will-power to make the layered changes required for healthy eating habits (coping with cravings, meal planning, careful grocery shopping, food prep, etc.). When people have lots of stress going on in their lives, they may not be able to add the stress of giving over all their emotional energy to building healthy eating habits. As Baumeister's research on will power demonstrates, people have the greatest reserve of will power each day when they get up (if they sleep well). People use up their daily ration of will power throughout the day coping with challenges (the financial stress of debt, work stress, caring for young children, etc.). As Brody notes, once healthy eating becomes habitual, people don't need all that will power to cope with cravings, etc. But that often takes three to six months. And, as with addiction relapses, intense stress can make peope fall off the wagon. Everyone's stories are so encouraging! One thing that has helped me make major changes in my life is compassionate accountability with trusted others who provide daily support and help me remember the core values motivating me to make a major change (e.g., maintaining healthy habits so I can more deeply savor the profound joys of life, like family and meaningful work).
Dr. OutreAmour (Montclair, NJ)
As someone who also lost about 1/2 my weight and kept it off for 50 years I do want to mention that such large weight losses can trigger anorexia and body dysmorphia. I look at myself in the mirror 100 times a day but still see a fat person which makes me starve myself more. I should be glad I lost the weight and am healthier for it (I hope), but I haven't had a single scoop of ice cream or slice of cake in decades.
Jim McKinney (Princeton, NJ)
Very rotund as a child into my teenage years, my “secret” after dropping a huge amount of weight was simply to say to myself that I am not that person: “That is not me: this is the person I am and I love me this way.” My new weight was my benchmark and, if I saw myself gaining weight (even by a very few pounds) I could rely on my “new” me to right the boat because that person wants to stay as he admires himself. Now, if I’m around people gorging themselves, I simply say that’s okay for them but that’s not me.
LS (Midwest)
@Dr. OutreAmour That sounds so sad. I have a lot of compassion for you.
Tom (NY)
I’m 65, 6’2” and 175 lbs. 15 years ago I weighed 210, was hypertensive and pre-diabetic. Although I exercised regularly, I ate too much and was sedentary (office). The big reduction came the first three months after my doctor sketched out the rest of my potentially shortened life, if I didn’t change my lifestyle. I made a weight goal and ate much less. It was hard but I was scared. The first three months was determination. The key to success in maintaining healthy weight over time: I used to love sugar cereal, deserts, etc. I don’t eat sugared products and try always to eat whole-grain products. Eat lean meat like chicken. Lots and lots of veggies and fruits. And exercise daily. Minimally, a vigorous walk. I lift weights three days a week and swim five days a week. I weigh myself once a week. If I bump up, I focus on trying harder until I’m back down. I love to work out now, to feel my body respond to the hard push. I’m lucky I live where the air is clean and I can go for walks or a bike ride right outside my door. Good luck!!
Cooofnj (New Jersey)
I’ve successfully kept off about 1/3 of my weight for 4 decades. I’m not slender but large/normal. Some ups and downs (never up too far) but what helps me a lot are three things. 1. I exercise HARD as often as possible. Take the stairs. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Etc. I see lots of people who Pooh-Pooh exercise but times I’ve been immobilized due to injury or disease have been the times my weight goes up. 2. I swear by Volumetrics by Barbara Rollins. Eat low energy density food as much as possible. Vegetables, high fiber food, real food. I try to limit what I eat that has a Nutrition Facts label (real foods generally don’t have them), and assess any labels every time I pick them up for fiber, fat, sugars and sodium. Make your purchased ingredients as simple as possible. 3. Michael Pollan is right. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. And cook it yourself.
Barbara Snider (California)
Really enjoyed and learned from reading everyone’s experiences. Grateful to all who took time to write about an important aspect of their dieting and weight loss. For me, it’s a combination of calorie counting, using the MyFitnessPal app and exercise. I also am experimenting with not eating for 12 hours a day, which would be from 5pm until 6am (maybe that’s 13). I believe in having a plan to follow each day, including planning what I will eat. I don’t concentrate on the dieting aspect, I concentrate on the food choices and exercise that are good for me. And I weigh regularly. I do best when I journal and record everything, then I know what food choices and activities are best for me.
Sirlar (Jersey City)
Let's not forget the Food-Industrial Complex. They put stuff in food that makes you want to eat more of it. They have experts whose sole job is to induce you to eat more of whatever it is. Just take a look at photographs of third or fourth grade classes today versus the same fifty years ago. The kids from fifty years ago are all skinnier. Why is that? Because the FIC wasn't as developed as it is today. They're to blame.
mlb4ever (New York)
I weigh myself every morning. By cutting out the sugary drinks I dropped 20 pounds and kept it off for the last 20 years. Now that I’m in my 60’s I fast and eat one big satisfying meal for the day mostly, cut down on carbs and very little booze. It’s the only way I can maintain my weight now. I mostly eat whatever I want in moderation but the key for me is one big early dinner instead of two small meals for the day and wind up snacking before bed, the worst thing to do.
Lindy (California)
"Diet" is a terrible concept. "Lifestyle change" is the correct term: what you need to do is change your lifestyle, including your eating habits, and exercise regularly. After all, an unhealthy lifestyle is what caused the weight gain in the first place! Adopt a healthy lifestyle and the health benefits will go far beyond the loss of weight. For me, I try to just avoid all processed food (anything in a package with a long list of ingredients) and just eat moderate portions of fresh fruits, vegetables, very little meat (once a week), whole grains, etc. And I especially limit the amount of sugar I eat. And I exercise every day. At almost 72, I weigh 115 pounds, take zero medications, and feel great.
SQUEE (Midwest)
5 years ago, I had a gastric sleeve surgery; I lost almost 100 pounds over the course of a year and my BMI went from 37 to 21. After 40 years of being obese, and trying everything, this was the thing that finally worked for me, and my weight stays within a couple of pounds either way of 130. I can eat most things, at this point; just not very much of any one thing (one cookie or five or six chips will satisfy a craving, for example). I feel so much better than I did when I was heavy. Plus my hypertension went away. If you are reading this, and are having trouble losing weight, don't give up. I am confident you will find your solution, too.
hiker (Las Vegas)
25 years ago, I entered the Zone which Dr. Barry Sears established. Lost 30 pounds and keeping it off. Got my blood sugar under control. Zone teaches to fill the plate with vegetables, your palm size protein (fish, meat, pork, beef, eggs, soy etc), good oil (I use flax seed oil)for Omega 3, and condiment size starch (whole grain, potato, sweet potato). Exercise, stretch and sleep well. I cook different meals in bulk to store in freezer. That frees up my time from cooking all the time. For exercise I prefer hiking in the mountain over the sidewalk regimen. I email my hiking photos to my family and friends. I do yoga stretch every night after a warm bath. I learned to sleep on my side with a knee pillow and a hug pillow, that helps lessen the degree of my sleep apnea. My sleep quality is reasonably acceptable. In the morning before breakfast; a 10 minutes ride on the whole body vibration machine, 5 minutes on inversion table, and 2 minutes on trampoline. At 78, I am 5 feet; 107 pounds; I am drug free, supplements free and pain free. Thank you, Dr. Barry Sears.
Nora (Connecticut)
I just download the book. Thanks!
hiker (Las Vegas)
@Nora Nora, My first book on Zone was Zone-Perfect Meals in Minutes. The first 20 pages changed my life. I skipped all the middle pages with recipes; and read the pages showing the portion sizes of each nutrition (carbohydrates, protein, fat) to understand how to balance them. Immediately after reading I cleared my cupboards, refrigerator, freezer of all bread, pasta, noodles, crackers, rice, ketchup, salad dressings. That left the storage space empty. Then I restocked the empty spaces with vegetables, fruit, fish, tofu, eggs, natto, sea weeds, miso. 8 days later, my blood sugar went down from 180 to 106. No drugs were used. 25 years later today, I add "condiment" size rice (1 tea spoon) to my breakfast miso soup. Today, bison, pork, ram are in my bulk cooking with a lot of sea weeds and vegetables to freeze. Many people are too lazy to follow Zone. They would rather rely on drugs, and ruin their otherwise perfect body with the pollutants. Drugs are pollutants. People say I am disciplined; but it's not so much as discipline. It's the commitment. I know I have only one body to live with for my entire life. Do you?
Nora (Connecticut)
@hiker Hello Hiker....I have been vegan/vegetarian most of my adult like and am a health food foodie. I have IBD and developed severe iron deficiency anemia due to my ulcerative colitis and maybe my plant based diet. I have been eating meat and vegetables from a local farm these past few months in an attempt to maintain my iron levels. (I receive iron infusions and am tested regularly.) I am a normal weight but would love to drop five pounds. I exercise and weight train. I never smoked, used drugs, and I do not consume alcohol. (IBD) I try to keep myself as healthy as I can.
CA (Delhi)
I find eating only what I cook is another way i can regulate. I can only cook low cal food. I am terrbile at making high cal food. This helps me get off high calorie food that I am fond of but don’t know how to make.
Larry Lurio (Oak Park IL)
The methods described in this article have pretty much worked for me. I use the MyFitnessPal app to track weight, calories and exercise every day, and have slowly but not radically modified my diet to contain healthier foods. I've lost 40 lbs, and then stayed stable for two years.
Cynthia McDonough (Naples, Fl.)
Weight loss is neither simple nor easy. I've lost 90 pounds on two seperate occasions after struggling with my weight my entire life. After trying countless diets, including weight watchers, and coping with type 2 diabetes, the only thing that keeps my near-constant hunger and sweet tooth in check is a LCHF diet and exercise. Weigh ins several times a week are also key. Of course, I stray at times (I'm human) but I get back on this routine to feel better physically and to keep my blood sugar down. It's hard being on such a "restrictive diet" but it makes me less obsessive about food and considering the very real alternatives, blindness, heart and kidney disease that I also battle, it's the only way to go.
Healthy eating habits, not dieting. I have been constant at my 50 lb weight loss for the last two years. No FAST food, only fresh or frozen mostly.
Tim (Fairfield Connecticut)
All so true, at least for me. I have been exercising for 20 years. Last April, about fifteen months after my wife was killed I knew that I might need to fool another woman to be part of my life. Old guy might not get a date, but old fat guy was never going to get a date. I stopped drinking, not totally but maybe 3-4 drinks a week. Gave up carbs, but again not completely. Last night i made some penne with sauce, lots of butter and cheese. I limit a lot of things but am also eating healthier. Salad for lunch, with some tuna or egg and my own homemade dressing. I spend more time walking, have no snacks around the house. But I don't totally deny myself. Treat myself to ice cream sometimes, other times it is a clam pizza. I have went from 187 to 162, but more importantly I have changed how I eat. Like the article says, I weigh myself often so there are no suprises and I am able to make adjustments. No new partner in my life yet, losing weight does not produce miracles.
Sally (NYC)
@Tim No, but a sense of humor is wonderful.
Mari (Switzerland)
I am so sorry about your wife, Tim. You sound like a terrific guy, and I know that there is a woman out there who will be lucky to catch you!
I saw an alternative health practitioner 10 years ago who advised me to completely drop certain types of food from my diet so I’d get more energy, defy ageing. These were: red meat, fat, dairy and butter, wheat, sugar, alcohol, caffeine. He made me take a whole variety of supplements including probiotic, thistle, etc. I did feel better, began daily bowel movement for the first time ever, and lost 15 pounds (over 3 yr). I eased up on the diet after three years and dropped the supplements altogether, but I have managed to keep the weight off and since then and also continue with my DBM by adding much more fruits and vegetables to my diet. Portion control was key too. It was a hard diet to adhere to because it was not sociable but it was a good exercise in being present, deliberate by watching carefully what I ate/drank. I got into walking and yoga at the same time and added a personal trainer to my routine in the last five years. This regimen requires time, discipline, determination, a supportive partner and a good chunk of change. Other than that it is very doable.
Janice Moulton (Northampton, MA)
I always overeat when I'm eating with good friends. Now I'll pay attention to the food instead of the good company. This "sheltering in place" is going to help a lot of people lose weight.
BB (Vancouver)
None of the current research regarding weight loss and obesity is presented here; the article merely contains a selection of comments by Weight Watchers customers. In fact, science tells us something completely different about weight loss and weight loss maintenance. It tells us that we can influence our weight, but we don’t have direct control. Weight gain and loss, overweight, and obesity are very complex disorders with dozens, if not hundreds, of contributing factors. A few of the factors that influence weight are your genetics, how much sleep you get, the cortisol levels in your body, the walkability of your city, your access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and how many fast food locations are in your neighborhood. What scientists studying weight loss do know is that focusing on behavior as a goal — instead of weight as a goal — is a more effective strategy over the long term. If you try harder to go for a walk, you’re much more likely to go for a walk, but if you try harder to lose weight by implementing the tips presented here, you don’t necessarily lose more weight. In fact, the stress of constantly trying to lose weight often increases the cortisol levels in your body and makes it harder to lose weight. So, if you’re working to manage your weight, set daily behavioral goals. Examples include going for a walk, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, eating more whole foods, eating at regular intervals during the day, or tracking your food intake.
SteveRR (CA)
@BB Well - no - what the article reflects and what 'science' tells us is quite clear: If you consume fewer calories than you expend then you will lose weight. Once you have lost the weight - if you consume the same amount of calories that you expend then you will maintain your weight. There are no magic calories - there are no magic foods however - there are thousands of fad diets and if they promise anything other than basic thermodynamics then they are lying. I am actually happy that the Gray Lady is presenting the unvarnished truth - it is up to each of us. You can't blame your genes - you can't blame your metabolism - you simply need to eat moderately - you need to choose good foods - you need to exercise - if you overindulge today then you need to underindulge tomorrow. The same thermodynamics that work in every corner of the universe also are true in your little corner of the solar system. Oh yeah - and quit eating your wife's cookies.
The Pooch (Wendell, MA)
@SteveRR "Calorie" based advice has been a tautology from the beginning. Thermodynamics tells us nothing about causation in a biological system. Does a pregnant woman or a growing child gain weight because of "calories"? What the science tells us is that reducing carbohydrates is the more effective way to lose weight and gain metabolic health. Demonstrated in numerous randomized controlled trials, with human subjects. It's not magic, it's the physiology of insulin, fat storage, and hunger. "Calorie" based advice has been a failure throughout a century of obesity research. Recommend a read of Gary Taubes for you to get caught up.
Iconoclast1956 (Columbus, OH)
I began tracking my weight daily in 2007 (in a spreadsheet) and have continued the habit since then. Weighing 158-162 pounds in my '60s feels much better than 190-200 pounds did in my '30s; it's a battle worth the effort.
JS (Chicago)
I started weight watchers about four years ago. Over time I lost 30 pounds and have managed to keep the weight off. WW taught me good eating habits. I never thought of the program as a diet, but rather a lifestyle change. I try to eat mainly the “zero point” foods like vegetables, fruit, eggs, and chicken breasts. I drink only black coffee. Red wine in moderation. I don’t bring bread, crackers, chips, or ice cream into the house. Occasionally, we go out for such treats. I don’t worry too much about the holidays - I always gain weight - but I know I have a plan to return to as soon as January 1 comes.
AJ (Midwest.)
@JS Weight Watchers didn’t work for me because I was never an unhealthy eater. I weighed over 200 pounds eating mostly chicken, fish, veggies and fruit. But lots and lots of them. I can easily eat 10 oz of fish or chicken prepared in the most healthy of ways. I could easily eat a half dozen bananas or bowl after bowl of other fruit and not feel full. No, I had to use a calorie counting app that didn’t let me eat like that anymore. I lost 75 pounds two years ago and have kept it off. Calorie counting is the only thing that works for me. Everyone needs to find what works for them
Dwight Jones (Vancouver)
Eating a categorical diet, whether inside a defined time period (intermittent fasting) or a defined food guide (LCHF or low carb, high fat) will likely eclipse any calorie-restriction schemes. They are not focused on individual meals. With my LCHF routine (see YouTube) the full weight of the refined carbs fell away entirely within months. My point is that carb temptation, once abrogated, allowed my ancestral, genetic weight to reappear - like a picture from my grad yearbook, but there in the mirror. This 'real food' regime most notably ends hunger; and it takes the belly fat first. It's like drawing back a curtain on your dreams, and I could never retreat to the self-flagellation of dieting again.
stephen (san diego)
This resesrch is outdated. The 16/8 intermittent fasting seems to do the trick. It gives your body time to do things other than metabolize - that is, constantly produce insulin- like burn fat. We were not even designed to eat every day and fasting, less than 500 calories a day, is good for you as well.
Mark Winnipeg (Winnipeg)
Fill your plate with vegetables. Fruit for dessert. No eating after the last meal of the day. Avoid processed foods, ESPECIALLY soft drinks. Go for a 30 minute (minimum) walk every day. Turn the tv off and read a book!
Ted (Texas)
I have managed to shed 65-70 pounds and have kept it off for many years now. I realize I have a food addiction in the same way there are other addictions. I cannot eat certain foods in moderation, I must abstain entirely. Just in the same way an alcoholic cannot drink in moderation. The results from abstaining from certain foods is that I am diabetic but have not taken medication for years. I was on insulin and other medications which was almost $500 a month. I have saved more than $40,000 in just medicine cost alone. I don't miss the junk foods at all. I have a life worth living for.
GBR (New England)
@Ted Awesome work, Ted!
Petra Hofmann (Chicagoland)
I have used LoseIT for years,though not always consistently. The result is I gained and then lost. I've finally realized the need not only for tracking daily my calories consumed but my exercise. Last Fall walking a route once took without issue was quite painful. I decided then on walking/bicycling every day at least 3 miles. The result to date 51 lbs down. I learned as much as I like TJ's cookies and Voortman's they cannot be in the house, ever! Eating out is a problem because menus don't post calories save for McDonald's. Last year I can document document 75,000 calories for 1300 miles, down 51 lbs.
JL (Midatlantic)
I've lost 10 lbs. in the last week. I've wanted to do it for awhile, but not due to lack of appetite and stress-pacing around my apartment during waking hours (as well as worrying how long my current food supply will last). I'm surprised this was published when it was. Talk about bad timing.
ItsEm (Toronto)
@JL 10 pounds per week is too much. 2 per week is recommended, Be careful.
Maria Balestrieri (Boston)
@JL in a way it feels like a nice diversion. something slightly 'frivolous and run of the mill' in the face of an otherwise frightening time.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@JL : talk about clueless and tone deaf, when people are scared and suffering and DYING all over THE WORLD. Shame on the NYT and Brody.
Dalgliesh (outside the beltway)
Losing weight is hard. Gaining weight is easy. That's the problem.
More And More (International)
@Dalgliesh Are you talking about me? I’ve been saying this about me for a very long time . It goes like: my body is good on only one thing: gaining weight! It’s been my problem for ever . I take good care of myself , try to eat well and clean and I exercise regularly , boxing and jogging but I consider myself lucky if I lose 20lb in a year, then I’ll try to slow down my exercise but still eat good THEN all the weight I’ve lost will come back within a couple of month ! Whaaaat??
Catherine Lewis (02657)
This article is very superficial. The most important factor in keeping weight off is the manner by which one loses the weight. I was a scrawny child whose Freshman 15 ballooned to over 40 pounds. At age 21 I decided that enough was enough. I had weighed 117 in high school. So, in order to return to that weight I went back to eating what a 117 lb. woman would eat. By going right to the end point, I lost the offending 40 over 18 months. It never felt like a "diet", it felt like returning to normal. Now almost half a century later I'm in the low 120s. I eat well, and if I overindulge I just go "back to eating what a 117 lb. woman would eat". Simple yes. Easy no. No gimmicks. No 3rd party solutions. Just a simple "practice". The key is taking a long-term view and remembering that we all make mistakes.
This is a band aid that can be avoided. Public policy has a role here - help children avoid becoming overweight in schools (and learn good habits) by serving healthy food and providing time for exercise. Make food manufacturers and food purveyors clearly identify the caloric (etc) intake of their products. I recently saw a small bag of chips that claimed to have 18 servings.
Sherri (Pennsylvania)
@PGB how about if we simply stop using “food manufacturers”, and start cooking simply and healthy again? Processed and easy foods are the major culprit. I have found that taking the time to cook - and I can make a healthy veggie-centric light-protein meal in 20 minutes - and eat more slowly, paying attention to what you’re eating is far more satisfactory than shoveling a Big Mac in your mouth while checking phone messages.
Transcendentalist (MA)
Over a number of years of being vegetarian/vegan, I gained about 30-40 pounds of unnecessary weight and had to confront the fact that I was subconsciously replacing meat with excessive amounts of wheat-based carbohydrates. It's difficult for me to feel satiated when eating plant-based, and I want to lessen the amount of fake meat I consume. Now I'm incorporating cheese and some fish back into my diet and seeing if that helps balance me out. Everyone has a very different idea of how to eat and what to eat, and I wonder if we as a society should make conclusions as to what the best diet for humans is, or if we need to accept the fact that everyone is built a little differently and should focus on what their individual dietary needs are. All I know is, my partner needs to gain weight and I need to lose weight, and knowing what to cook for dinner now is going to be a nightmare.
Dave (StLouis)
I fail to understand the significance of mentioning a study funded by WW that studied their customers. There is such an obvious conflict of interest here that its almost funny. The key to weight loss and a physically healthy life is simple; Adopt a plant-based diet. There are many many stories of plant based eating success stories. I know many people cringe at this idea, as I did when I first considered it. However, after eight years on a plant-based diet I find that I can eat as much food as I want whenever I want, exercise for enjoyment and weight is no longer an issue. Nor for that matter is high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, etc. It's simply making it a priority and adopting some new habits. It's cheaper and after you get going easier, and there are times when I stray, especially at parties and family get togethers. But what I have found is that you crave what you eat. The variety of food is fantastic. Veggies rock!
Dwight Jones (Vancouver)
@Dave Agreed, the entire industry is corrupted. The 'Food Guide' triangle is upside down. the AHA's low-fat dictum was arranged by Proctor&Gamble in 1947 with huge donations to help sell Crisco (a soap manufacturer who hoped it might be edible). Crisco isn't edible, it's made like motor oil but with even more processing, and it's where inflammation comes from. Our body does get angry when we eat chemical nothings that our poor liver must deal with. We can say the same thing about the way grain farming/feedlot/subsidies have destroyed our grasslands. Industrial 'food' manufacturing is completely corrupted by Big Ag and Big Pharma.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Dave : what if you hate vegetables? Now, I love veggies so this is not about me (though I choose to be an omnivore). But many, many folks I know hate vegetables. Some of these folks are vegetarians or vegans. Instead of eating vegetables all the time…they eat processed manufactured "fake foods"….fake ice cream, fake cheese, fake lunch meats, etc. Is that really healthy? Not in my opinion. Most people absolutely HATE HATE HATE vegetables. You will never get masses of people to eat foods they absolutely hate.
viridian (South Bend, IN)
I see a lot of comments referring to the fact that people have a tough time sticking with diets. The unfortunate fact is, if people view a diet as something that is temporary phase that ends when they lose the weight they want to, they will almost certainly gain it back. To all those who say "I'll just gain it back, why bother?" I have an answer: heart disease and cancer, which are far an away the leading causes of death in this country. Can you get them while thin? Sure, but it is a logical fallacy to say that this means being overweight does not. According to the CDC, obesity is a leading cause of preventable diseases, including heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and strokes. Moreover, in the midst of the global COVID pandemic, those most likely to die have underlying health conditions, many of which are affected by obesity. While the overall fatality rate of the first 44,672 cases was 3.6%, those with cardiovascular disease had a fatality rate of 10.5%. Those with diabetes, 7.3%. Both of these are higher than death rates among those with respiratory illness (6.3%). High blood pressure - something else that is extremely common in those who are overweight or obese - had a fatality rate of 6.0%. When faced with the possibility that as much as 2/3 of our population might catch the coronavirus, I can only say don't give up on your health! It may be hard, but your life is worth it!
Jnicholas (Washington, DC)
I find this article to be very outdated & repetitious. Never base statics on one's own experience or that of a friend. Jane, I have been following you for years. Based a lot of my food preparations on the ideas presented in your book. Current research has determined that weight loss & healthy weight maintenance is a very complex & highly individualized process in which genetics play a role as does the environment, educational levels, economic status. I'm shocked that a journalist of your stature would write an article that completely ignores the work of scientists in this field This is 2020, not 1976.
ms (Midwest)
"A good friend who struggles with his weight gets furious with his wife for bringing cookies into the house. “She knows I can’t resist them, and I’ve asked her repeatedly not to buy them.” It took me two years to train my partner NOT to bring me a snack every time they had one! ...and there are still lapses.
Ariana (Vancouver, BC)
@ms It's really not fair to blame other people for your problems. I agree, it's great to have social support, but if having cookies is important to your wife, you have to learn how to deal with that. Having one's own needs trump everyone else's preferences and "training" adults is not the way to live in the world.
Sally (NYC)
@Ariana Don't you think that if you were married to an alcoholic in recovery, it would be a loving thing NOT to bring alcohol into the house? Same thing.
Rachel (Toomey)
Nope. I am in recovery 15 years my husband is a social drinker. No problem. If you really want cookies whether they are in the house or not you will eat them; the convenience store, hello! You don’t need other people to babysit you. If you want to lose weight, and I speak from experience, create a calorie deficit. No one but you is responsible for what goes in your mouth.
VirusWithShoes (Santa Monica)
I can sum up the solution to keeping weight off in one word - cook. There’s a bodybuilding adage that goes “muscles are built in the kitchen, not in the gym.” If you don’t cook real foods, you will get fat. It really is that simple.
Beth (Upstate NY)
@ViruswithShoes. Some of us are great cooks and show just how much we are on our hips! Even when it is from food only purchased on the perimeter of the grocery store. Easy is a broad word here.
Chris (Las Vegas)
Abs are built in the kitchen. I see many people think they can out work a bad diet. You have to consistency lower your caloric intake. Period. Anything else is nonsense.
Dwight Jones (Vancouver)
@Chris Not completely true. When you are burning ketones, a surplus is 'wasted' in urine or in your breath. Ergo, carb and ketone energy output are unequal, and under the latter you lose weight when calorie intake is the same. Keto has lots of belly fat to play with.
@Chris Yep. Simple math; input must be less than output to lose any weight.
The Pooch (Wendell, MA)
@Chris You have to consistently provide nutrition and find foods that satisfy hunger. Any thing else is nonsense. "Calories" have been a red herring from the beginning.
SAH (New York)
Me! I get on a scale every morning. It tells me what I have to do for the next day (or days) to fine tune my eating. I try to eat sensibly and I love exercise. Sometimes I enjoy a “restaurant buffet” a little too much and the scale the next morning “reminds” me to back off a bit for a day or two. That’s what works for me better than anything else I’ve tried!! But, to each his/her own!
Dwight Jones (Vancouver)
@SAH That plan kept me over 200 lbs for 30 years. Four months on LCHF and I'm at 183 and falling to my ancestral weight. No contest.
David (Seattle)
Best is to avoid getting fat in the first place. Rather than suffer for 2 years before it's normal, just eat normally and get regular exercise. This has been known since humanity started, but gluttony and sloth are far too common.
Eileen (Ithaca NY)
@David I did not gain weight until I became pregnant, going from 103 lbs to 153 lbs because I was so worried I needed more nutrients to produce a healthy child. My doctor thought I was underweight at the outset (true) and was mistaken about my due date, so he was not alarmed at my weight gain until it was too late. Eventually I got back to 115 lbs but as I have aged, I have gained perhaps 2 lbs/year, so 30 years later I am now at 160 lbs and struggling to lose a few pounds. It is not gluttony - nor is it sloth. Watch your own waist as you age and see.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
It always boils down to "eat right and exercise regularly," no matter how you try to gimmick it up or say it in different words. Meanwhile, half of us are obese and heading toward grossly obese if not already there because they are too addicted to food and too lazy to exercise (and as they become bigger they are more unable to exercise).
judopp (Houston)
Love the phrase: "confronted with culinary largess".
MGerard (Bethesda, MD)
There are lots of take-away points in this article with the best being: People must abandon the notion that “they can’t like themselves until they lose weight,” ....“Rather, they have to start with a sense of self-worth and compassion. Weight management is a positive process, not a punitive one. Beating yourself up is not helpful, it’s de-motivating.”
dfaye7 (New York)
This article infuriates me, and I've been a fan of J.E.Brody over the years. There is so much research showing that diets are not effective in the long term, and to present WW as less than a diet is disingenuous for readers. Food diaries, counting calories, daily weighing are all part of a Diet Mentality meant to keep an industry afloat. Needing to control other people's behaviors (don't bring cookies home) is not a healthy way to deal with weight. And why are we condoning obsessing about weight? By now we know one can be thin and unhealthy. This article is Old Think. 👎👎👎
Bill Keating (Long Island, NY)
@dfaye7 - We have learned much about weight loss, but we have not learned that it is harmless and may just be accepted. Obesity is a risk factor for many illnesses. but for here we could just begin and end with Type II Diabetes. Most people who get around at all know that Type II Diabetes is the Queen Disease of the 21st Century thus far and it is closely tied to excessive weight and obesity. It is also a nasty progressive disease that causes many extreme unpleasantries in the latter stages of a life. There is a growing belief among doctors and scientists that Type II may be reversible, and weight loss plays a big role. I'll leave that for others to explore.
dfaye7 (New York)
@Bill Keating All good, and important points. I respect the dire diagnosis of Diabetes. There is an inherent problem when we tell people they NEED to lose weight. The mindset of restriction and deprivation is not sustainable long term. They're doomed to regress. I am an Intuitive Eating coach (I walked the walk, lost 30+ pounds 20+ years ago). The key being that when you care about yourself you make choices and decisions that align with respecting your life, health, and body. The choices become easy, no discipline, no punitive measures, just love, of self, of food, of health. If you're not familiar look it up. The originators are dieticians who saw their at risk patients fail over and over and found this to be a long term sustainable solution. Thanks for reading my comment and dialoguing.
Dwight Jones (Vancouver)
@dfaye7 Good advice, and it's all there to see and use when you search YouTube for LCHF or low carb diet. Doctors delineate just how the Food Guide and the AHA and Big Ag and Big Pharma have effectively fattened up the world like a herd of cattle on a a feedlot. And been paid to do it. It might be forgivable, but they ruined our grasslands to make ethanol, too. Subsidized. Lobbyists corrupt absolutely.
me (here)
Sorry, what are the keys? How was it tested? How is this article different from all the other fiet advice? Or is this just more advertising by Weight Watchers, recommending we watch our weight constantly?
Dwight Jones (Vancouver)
@me Someone possibly has legacy friends in the business?
I knew without even reading the byline that this was another Jane Brody anti-fat people screed. Why does this woman -- who refuses to accept the data that 95% of people who lose weight can't keep it off, whose ideas about nutrition stem from 1980s advice and who thinks that her personal weight loss experience is universally applicable to all other human beings -- still have a column? That people who lose weight have trouble keeping it off is a matter of BIOLOGY, not "personal responsibility," not "giving in to temptation." It means starving yourself for the result of your life. It means learning to ignore the reality that your body is telling you it is hungry. It means eating less and getting much more exercise than you would need to maintain that lost weight than if you had never weighed more than whatever you weigh now. Time to put Ms. Brody and her ideas into retirement.
Second generation (NYS)
THIS: "People must abandon the notion that “they can’t like themselves until they lose weight,” he said. “Rather, they have to start with a sense of self-worth and compassion. Weight management is a positive process, not a punitive one. Beating yourself up is not helpful, it’s de-motivating.” That's the key factor. If you do not love yourself as you set out on your weight-loss journey, you are doomed to fail--because undertaking something as difficult as permanent weight loss means you are saying: "I deserve this effort; this love and care." If you believe that because you are fat, you are also unworthy and/or unlovable, you will eventually back-slide. Unfortunately, our beauty and celebrity culture sends the constant message that fat people are unworthy, undisciplined, and disgusting. Women in particular are conditioned to value themselves according to their attractiveness. We are seeing more acceptance of all body types but the message is still overwhelmingly"The beautiful are more worthy." Reminds me of the "boys are better" message sent throughout my Catholic childhood.
Julie C. (Philadelphia PA)
And never shop when you are hungry. Never ever.
Northway (California)
I love reading about weight loss solutions written by someone who's never had a weight!
L. (France)
@Northway But she has. Jane Brody is quite open about the fact that she had a binge-eating disorder for a while and was very heavy. She writes about the issue because she has lived with it and continues to work on it.
Sfreud (Amsterdam)
After four years of the 5:2 fasting diet, I am now confronted with a very deadly virus. Just saying.
sam (flyoverland)
thank you very much for saying a) you dont exercise your way to weight loss and b) you dont diet to look cute at your at the high school reunion or wedding but that has to be permanent change in eating habits. but then you quoted the nitwit Dr at the end who parrotted the ridiculous untrue canard that its "calories in/calories out". thats wrong, its a lie, please, please NEVER repeat that ridiculousness ever again.
Sandy (Chicago)
@sam "Calories in vs. calories out" may be true as a whole--but it would be the entire answer if all foods were identical fuels, analogous to all gasolines. The difference lies in how the body processes the various foods that contain the "calories in" so that they become "calories out." And different people's bodies process certain types of foods differently. So maybe that vegan who crows about how a "plant-based lifestyle" was his holy grail may be correct for him, but his advice that it is applicable to all people is not scientifically credible. I've lost 53 lbs. on LCMPHF, and it works for my lifestyle--but I realize it isn't necessarily the key for everyone. And that snarky commenter who said "Don't get fat in the first place?" How helpful is that for those whose "horses" have already "been stolen" from the "barn?" The goal should be how to figure out how to recapture them and keep that barn door closed.
Dwight Jones (Vancouver)
@sam Absolutely right, Sam. When we burn ketones, more energy is expended than taken in, often excreted as 'waste' in our urine or breath. Because we are using belly fat instead of glucose and we have at least 70 times as much of that stored than the 5 gm of glucose circulating in the blood, your body can afford it. The body blows it off and your weight plummets to your genetic weight, permanently.
SWD (Pittsburgh, PA)
A study funded by Weight Watchers, studying Weight Watchers participants, reporting positive results with Weight Watchers...who would’ve thunk it?
Frequent Commenter (DownUnder via NY)
@SWD Not exactly. They looked at the SUBSET of WW participants who kept off a large amount of weight for over 3 years. They are not saying that everyone on WW will do that, instead they are asking what these people did differently so they can attempt to more widely share that knowledge. That sounds like worthwhile research to me. The mere fact that WW is behind the study does not mean that it is worthless, it just means that you might want to look at the research methodology a little more closely. PS. I am on an institutional research ethics committee and have had several years' experience reviewing scientific research projects. I am also a university researcher. So I have some basis for my opinion here.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Frequent Commenter : I'd rather WW and Jane Brody talk about the 10 million or more people who have been on Weight Watchers over the last SIXTY YEARS -- and not lost any significant weight, or lost a little and gained it all back. Because that is truth -- that is millions and millions of people bilked out of monthly fees and money for ridiculous branded "diet" snack foods they hawk at their meetings!!!! -- and not the tiny handful of "success stories" (*self reported).
nebulis (Albuquerque, NM)
I find it baffling that NYT posts a weight loss article amidst quarantine and social distancing, when we're alone and cooking and watching. Let it go for a minute.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@nebulis : really! what inspired this? and there is zero recognition in this self-serving piece (pure advertising for WW -- was Brody paid to write this?) that we are in a PANDEMIC! People are DYING! -- people the same age as Jane Brody! do you think a dying 80 year old on a respirator in ICU gives a flying fig about "carbs" or "keto" or "WW"???? Why would vanity and dieting be a SUBJECT In these trying times? people are frantically trying to find supermarkets with ANY decent food to eat and may be house-bound for months to come! For gods sake, NYT and Jane Brody -- get with the program!
Phyllis Stein (Houston)
Only three stories away from an Editorial imploring is to make cornbread. Mmmm..,,
PierrePoutine (Toronto)
I didn't realize the NYT was a vehicle for Weight Watchers propaganda.
Ellyn Silverman (Long Beach, California)
@PierrePoutine now you know. Right? What hand does Oprah have in this.
jeremyp (florida)
I've always thought that the key to losing weight and keeping it off is discipline. Any diet works if you stick with it. But I'm pretty sure that research has shown us time after time that the stick to it -ness is the bear that most people wilt under. The majority of people in our modern age will not keep to their diets. The diet industry relies on it.
psi (Sydney)
Ive lost about 20kg and plan to keep it off. My rules: Whatever you choose as your diet, remember you have to keep it up for the rest of your life. So none of your favourite foods can be forbidden. You may have to eat them less. Get some scales, find out how many calories your body uses a day and work out how much you need to eat each day to lose weight. By measurement you can manage. You are better off cutting carbs than any other group. Carbs make your blood sugars spike and then the troughs make you hungry. Seek calories in nuts, oils etc. Eat lots of raw vegetables. You can eat things like tomato, cucumber, celery until you feel full. Watch the dressing if it contains oil. Weigh yourself every day, and average the results. Fluctuations of 1kg are common. Watch the trend and adjust diet if necessary. Eat your favourite foods on special occasions. Watch the quantities as they will push your weight. Its the daily habit and consistency that matters as it adds up. If you are on a diet that is losing you (say) 30g/day (1kG/month), you only have to eat 50 almonds extra (or the equivalent) to lose nothing on a particular day (its not much). I like eating the same meals every day so its easy for me to do this. Some will find it harder. Regular exercise helps. You won't lose one kg in one session, but 30g a day is not out of the question. It adds up.
Dwight Jones (Vancouver)
@psi You are eating very close to keto, so search YouTube for LCHF and get into ketosis, and thrive.
psi (Sydney)
@Dwight Jones Yeah. Maybe its keto without dogma. I have watched some stuff on keto, but a lot of the thinking is binary and I can't separate the science from the lore. Is ketosis a binary state? If I get all my calories from fats (eaten and body fat) then clearly my body is in ketosis. What about 50/50 fats/carbs? Am I half in ketosis? I eat carrots, fruit, even some bread. My take is that the fats go down the keto pathway and the carbs through glycosis, but there are lots of pathways and it gets confusing.
Jj (Nyc)
Losing weight I’d go with low carb, it always works. Eat lean meats and fish, most veggies (except potatoes) and fruits (except apples and grapes). Give it a try for 2-4 weeks, it’s easier than it seems. Intermittent fasting has worked very well for me to maintain weight without any effort. Basically I eat whatever I want within an 8 hour period and then nothing the other 16hrs (although I can have a diet coke or even a jolly rancher). It’s become real easy and I have no cravings because during the day I’m extremely satisfied with what I eat. Junk food has become less appealing as well. Lastly, lay off the caffeine. Its stimulant properties might help aid in appetite suppression, but it’s an awful drug the causes anxiety and is extremely addictive. It also disturbs sleep.
Sandy (Chicago)
@Jj I eat low-carb too, but I don't consciously restrict fats--and that includes animal proteins. Healthy fats help keep one sated. I'm a night owl, and eating too close to bedtime gives me reflux. I have the luxury of being able to sleep late, so I "intermittently fast" without obsessing about it. (Having to cram every morsel into my mouth w/in an 8-hr period would make me feel like Cinderella as midnight approaches). I don't drink diet sodas, or any sweetened beverage. I do drink caffeine up till dinner time--it helps keep my lungs open--and a really good decaf until 3 hrs. before bedtime (again, "acid down" at the wrong time can cause "acid up"). With the current COVID near-"house arrest" (solitary outdoor walks help with sanity), I have no social pressure to eat what's offered--it's completely up to me what goes into my mouth (and fridge), without having to adapt to restaurant cooking or fear insulting someone by politely spurning the food they may offer as a loving gesture. Again, this is what works for ME. Your mileage may vary. I may have to revise my story when my fridge, freezer, and pantry run out of low-carb healthy foods--and so do the grocery delivery services. (If I live that long at my age).
jz (miami)
@Jj Why no apples?
SueK (Southern NJ)
I started Noom, a different sort of weight loss wait... it's more a habit changing program. And it works for me. I have lost over 45 lbs in a year and have kept it off...despite lapses here and there. If I do poorly one week, I know how to get back to where I was. I have tried everything else and nothing worked. I think what matters is what works for each individual. This worked because I know that if I want something I should not have, I can have long as it fits into my daily calorie count. I am not on a diet. I am developing a new relationship to food. I would like to lose more. But if I don't, I am happy where I am now and I know for a fact that I can maintain it.
KAnders (Central Coast, CA)
Me too! I started Noom a year ago and lost 30 pounds in four months. I am back up about 15 but I’m happy and healthy where I am and have a healthy BMI. I agree, it’s a lifestyle shift and not a diet. Diet is simply what you eat… Noom takes a psychological approach and works on a deeper level to shift your mentality towards consumption, prioritizing mindfulness and science.
vishmael (madison, wi)
Perhaps the mature Jane Brody. long familiar w the equally mature WW program, will soon investigate and report to us from the newer Noom campus.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@KAnders : I'd say a diet that had you lose 30 lbs in 4 months and then immediately regain HALF OF IT…is a pretty sad failure. How long until you've regained ALL OF IT plus a few extra pounds as punishment for even trying?
Stephanie (New York)
I’ve tried everything under the sun, including WW. I was never able to maintain the weight loss because I didn’t like my life as I was losing the weight. If you don’t enjoy your life as you’re losing weight, you’ll never be able to sustain it. It’s critical that you focus on what cleverly calls M.P.H -- Mindset, Psychology and Habits. Sustainable weight loss is ultimately an issue between our ears, and that's the main reason why I've been able to effortlessly keep the weight off (it’s been 7 years now). I'm a different person with a different mindset and habits along with a new relationship with food. It’s been a game changer because everything I've tried got harder to stick with as time went on, as I was relying solely on willpower. With MyBodyTutor, it truly gets easier and easier as time goes on. I can't recommend the program enough to anyone who wants to lose weight and keep it off in a way that doesn’t feel like torture. At my age, I never thought I would be able to lose this much weight -- keep it off -- and without agony. Life changing to say the least!
Rachel (Toomey)
cassandra (somewhere)
First step: banish processed foods---which account for 80% of products sold on supermarket shelves. There's a reason such foods are designed to be addictive: there's lots of $$$ in it for the Food Industrial Complex, BigAg, etc etc. Complement that with the emotional challenges of living in an accelerating 24/7 society which produces anxiety, high cortisol levels, etc. and you have a recipe for obesity.
MGerard (Bethesda, MD)
@cassandra Is right!!! Foods are designed to be addictive. On a 60 minutes segment reporting on how food flavors are developed, a food company representative stated that the goal was to make their products "Addictive". To fund health care, we should be getting money from the food companies like was done with Big Tobacco!!
LoveCourageTruth (San Francisco)
I lost 45 pounds in 6 months and was never on a "diet". My wife lost about 20 pounds. It's now 5 years since we lost the weight. We did not set a goal of losing weight. Our goal was and is to age in a healthy manner and to take meat off our diet for both personal and planetary health. We thought about our children's future and how meat is a huge contributor to the climate crisis. We eat fish once a week, kicked the meat habit within 45 days and have no desire for red meat, chicken perhaps 3-4 X per year, and we moved to a plant based diet. We're both healthier than ever (my cholesterol is lower than ever with no drugs. We keep a few pounds of home made choc chip cookie dough in the freezer and perhaps once a week we'll bake one cookie for each of us, ice cream in moderation (a pint a month, etc.) We weigh ourselves every day and having a life partner to do this with makes it easier. Happy, healthy, at an ideal weight for 5 years now, and love the food that we eat. Instead of buying meat we eat organic fruits and veggies, 90% eat at home, so we also save money. Kick the meat, sugar, fruit drink habit - it's easier than you think. After 30-45 days it becomes much easier.
Am Brown (Windsor)
@LoveCourageTruth Agree. Vegan is the way to go. And it's so much easier now with all the new plant-based foods!
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Am Brown : did you even read his post? LoveCourageTruth is not a vegan AT ALL -- he's an omnivore who eats small amounts of chicken and fish on a regular basis! and eats ice cream, hence dairy! How is that vegan?
David Henry (Concord)
Gyms are not an option right now, so adjusting diet is critical if you don't want to gain weight. Start now.
Deborah (California)
Weight Watchers time and again has proved to be the most reliable weight management plan out there. Components such as portion size awareness, food journaling, regular weigh-ins and group support have been shown to be effective tools. I would trust whatever information Weight Watchers supports. It is a sad comment on our times that because of "fat shaming" activists (no worries over adverse health consequences of overweight?), Weight Watchers has been forced to hide under the moniker "WW".
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Deborah ; what do you base that belief on? WW advertising? Also the name change is to be hip and modern -- not because anybody "forced Weight Watchers to hide"!!! In fact, WW has a long 60 year history of utter failure with millions who have joined (and rejoined!) and paid monthly fees, only to lose little or no weight and regain it all plus a few extra pounds as punishment for even trying. A 97% failure rate is nothing to brag about.
Choi (Los Angeles)
The only way to lose weight is to add small servings of whole grains to your meals. These include millet, barley, wheat berries, wild rice, brown rice quinoa among others. The whole grains are prebiotics that slowly breaks down in the colon while encouraging gut bacteria to flourish. Add beans, lentils, vegetables, fruit, fermented foods, seeds, a few eggs, and small servings of meat/fish to your whole grain meal, and you will feel satiated and alert. Cravings for sugar, processed, frozen, fried and other unhealthy foods will subside quickly. And you will never have to diet in your life! Cook often and share nature's incredible bounty with friends and family.
lh (MA)
@Choi The "only" way to lose weight is to first ignore any advice that starts with "the only way to lose weight is..." People are individuals and what works for one person will not work for another. The key is finding an approach that works *for you* and sticking to it, adapting your eating habits and lifestyle in such a way that supports your overall health, and in such a way that you can sustain it for years.
Mark Sanford (Ashland, OR)
Bravo. Find your way and stick with it. My success over the past five years is due to low carbs, plenty of exercise and an attitude of seeing weight loss as a can't lose path to self-respect.
Sandy (Chicago)
@Mark Sanford Same here--also, give away your "fat" clothes when they become 2 sizes too big to be flattering. Having them in your closet, or even attic, as a "safety valve" is a potent weapon for self-sabotage.
Steve B (Shoreview, Minnesota)
I use what I guess would be described as a form of intermittent fasting. I restrict myself to 1000 calories or less on Monday through Thursday. This means no sugared drinks or deserts. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I eat mostly what I want. Sometimes on the weekends I will have a burger and fries, sugared soda, and have desert. I started this in 2007. I lost about 80 pounds over 2 and a half years, and have kept it off since then. I do get quite hungry sometimes during the week, but I know I can indulge myself a bit on the weekend and that makes it easier. After doing this for a long time it has become a habit.
Just Deserts (VT)
Running is a miracle exercise for mental and physical stress. Enough vigorous daily exercise also helps direct your body towards the right foods to eat. "Dieting" is a flawed concept. Focus on vegetables and nutrient rich foods. Avoid empty sugar calories. Eat when you're actually hungry. Drink water, coffee or tea (no sugar). throw away the scale. This is a lifestyle. not a diet. look in the mirror in 3 months and you'll know you're doing the right thing by how you look and feel.
Mark Siegel (Atlanta)
There is only one way to lose weight: consume fewer calories.
Oh My (Upstate, New York)
@mark Siegel The only way to lose weight is to stop consuming sugar. Sugar is in the form carbohydrates. White sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, grains. Grains in bread. Grain historically used to fatten cattle. Same grains wheat corn etc also fatten people. Myth about whole grains being healthier - they are slower to digest but will have same impact on blood sugar and weight.
Bill Keating (Long Island, NY)
@Mark Siegel - According to the two popular diets of the day, intermittent fasting and ketogenic, consuming fewer calories is not a long term solution. The science behind these diets say that the body tries to return to its pre-diet weight by slowing down the rate of metabolism until the body is comfortable with your reduced calorie intake and again will have excess glucose to store as fat. This science is plausible although by no means accepted currently by all.
Mark Siegel (Atlanta)
As doctors will tell you, your intake of calories has to decrease to enable weight loss. As you get older, your appetite diminishes and you naturally eat less. The diet industry tends not to say out loud that what they’re doing to to train you to eat fewer calories, especially of the junk variety.
dobes (boston)
What if his wife likes cookies, and doesn't need to lose weight? Shouldn't he learn to resist them rather than demand that she abstain?
Sheldon (conn)
@dobes People with weight control issues -- call them borderline compulsive behavior, if you will -- can't simply "learn to resist" when the drug is right in from of them and replenished steadily, apparently for free. No one said anything about "demanding." Asking your loved one to help you live longer by avoiding bringing junk food into the home doesn't sound cruel to me. If cookies are that important to her, she can eat them when she's out, or create a private stash. If she refuses to help, so be it.
Emma (Denis)
No it has been proven that managing the environnement is key to success. And if you care about your partner it a small attention to have.
Elisabeth (Ca)
@dobes as a formerly obese woman (~250#) I agree. I am down to 132 and have maintained my weight loss for 2.5 years. I just decided I do not eat that junk. If I want a bite, I have it. But the last bite tastes the same as the first. I even still enjoy baking for my family (I wouldn’t even do that but my husband will buy it if I don’t make it and homemade is marginally healthier).
Jim Tagley (Naples, FL)
Give up, or severely limit alcohol intake. That's the hard part. A decent happy hour, 2 - 3 margarita's or martini's is 1000 calories, 1/2 a days total caloric intake for a man.
Autar Kaw (Tampa)
Please no drastic stuff - Keto, Atkins, plant, paleo. These just make money for those selling wares. Intermittent fasting makes perfect sense as it reduces your window of eating and hence the calories. Stop snacking. It has helped me and I have lost 9 lbs in 3 months. It is a slow process but stick to it. Keep exercising too to keep your body toned and your mind upbeat. Intermittent fasting does not make anyone money - so it does not get as much press.
Midwest roots (France)
@Autar Kaw Plant based does not really make any one person money. It's actually kind of the opposite - just eat veggies and fruits. Most plant based diets are not filled with fake meat - most of us aren't interested in pretending we are eating an animal. Ew.
The Pooch (Wendell, MA)
@Autar Kaw Paleo: how "drastic" to just eat meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, fruit, and nuts. One would never want to engage in such a crazy diet! /s
Tbird57 (Chicago, IL)
This is a battle I've fought for decades. I've lost and gained hundreds of pounds. For those of us with a chronic problem, it's not simple. Fighting your physiology every moment is exhausting. Fat cells live on, and are formidable.
Mark Siegel (Atlanta)
The points in this article are good, but I wish Ms. Brody had not cited a study by Weight Watchers, which has obvious self-interest in the results.
@MarkSiegel Weight Watchers is a comprehensive, well researched program. You should visit a few meetings to see how effective the program is. It is based on good research, science and psychology. I benefit in no way from being supportive of WW, and there is good reason for Weight Watchers to be referenced in this article. WW is literally a life saver for many people. Food and sugar are like drugs to some people as someone already pointed out so weightloss for us is far more complicated than calories in, calories out. Like most personal issues people have there is no black or white answer, the answers lie in a very gray area.
KEL (Upstate)
@Mark Siegel agreed. WW only makes money when people are in the weight loss phase, and not in the maintenance phase. So, if you lose weight, regain it, and go on the weight loss plan again, they win. For this reason alone I won't rejoin. Additionally, if you have compulsive tendencies and/or an eating disorder, the constant attention to "points" and servings etc etc can be mentally unhealthy. My eating disorder specialist therapist and I agree that WW is not for me. If you have an eating disorder or OCD, check with a specialist before trying WW.
Annie (Sacramento)
I’m almost halfway towards my weight loss goals but I already feel great, my pants are loose and digestive unease is much reduced. My mental stress is improving too. It took seeing my sister’s excellent and healthy weight loss during the holidays to finally inspire me to intentional actions. She shared a very simple guideline for vegetable rich and requisite protein foods to follow for four months. Two more months to go for me. Then, normal maintenance. I know I’ll be successful in maintenance since most of my life I’ve been in the healthy range. I over-indulged for emotional comfort for about ten plus years and nothing good resulted. I minimized how many sweets I was actually consuming. Now that I’m older, I know mobility is paramount to independence and long-term senior health. That’s been a priority goal to my getting back to good health. Re the nutrition plan, for me it’s a focused approach to not use food as a reward, and to eat a lot of veggies and some fruit and some protein. Straightforward plan. Also includes intermittent fasting. I wish all well in their weight loss and maintenance journey. We can do it.
Lacaata (Grand Forks, ND)
I enjoyed your article but it would have been helpful to mention age. Everything I have read says it becomes more and more difficult to lose weight as you get older because of metabolism changes. At 64 it has been enormously frustrating to strictly adhere to portion control of mainly healthy foods only to see no change on the scale. Surely someone who is 44 and obese is going to get quicker and more lasting results than I would. Am I wrong? I would love to read about those 65 and up who have lost pounds in the double digits and kept it off. I’m sure it’s possible, but I am much harder on myself and more prone to depression than ever. As they say, you tend to become invisible once you hit 60 so this would become even more of a personal challenge. I will never stop trying!
ms (Midwest)
@Lacaata I dropped almost 60 pounds when I was working for a company that had 6-month incentives. Part of that was done with no exercise due to a broken ankle. I've gained a portion back after losing my job, but I am back to going to other direction now. There always have been and will be other people who lose weight more easily than me - age, gender, who cares - it's all the same. Don't be hard on yourself - that doesn't work in weight loss OR musical practice! Write down what you eat and your weight, but just observe. I have never followed a diet, but I make small changes. See exercise as meaningful in itself rather than as a means to lose weight. It decreases depression (and it's how we developed an interest in bird-watching). If that is out, try online yoga within your limitations. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step - and sometimes you get lost. Just focus on the next step, not the past.
rzekowski (Illinois)
@Lacaata I went on the Whole 30 detox diet this past September, 2019, (It's now March, 2020) and, as a side benefit, I lost 12 pounds. I was 83 years old when I began it and I have since lost two more pounds. I have kept the weight off by sticking to small portions, but generally eat what I want. I think that I'm beginning to indulge more in sweets now, so I am going to stop that as I want to lose a few more pounds. I am 5'4" and was 170 lbs, have gone down to 155. My next goal is 149, then 145, then 140. Then I will re-assess if I'm still alive....
Annie (Sacramento)
@Lacaata Hi, I’m 65.33 and am having great success with a vegetable rich, 2 protein daily, 2.5 fruit servings nutrition plan. I’ve lost 15 pounds in six weeks. Occasional indulgence of low sugar chobani yogurt, 1/2 serving. All the tea and sparkling water I can drink. Coffee occasionally. And I seem to be less invisible :). Halfway there!
David B (Gainesville FL)
This sounds like employing intuitive eating tactics which is getting in tune with your body and going against diet culture and restriction! Dieting and restriction is one of the main predictors of weight gain and I appreciate an article that touches on body acceptance and including all foods. I hope to continue sharing this message as I become a Registered Dietitian at the end of the summer.
Frannie Zellman (Cherry Hill, NJ)
@David B, you are so right, and I am glad you are going to become a registered Dietitian. Sounds like you are in tune with HAES, Health At Every Size. As you know, 95% of those who diet regain, with many regaining and then gaining more than they have lost. Body acceptance is the way to go if one is going to be in tune with one's body. as opposed to dieting/starvation and restriction.
Kate Blue (Sacramento)
Unfortunately, healthy eating choices don't work for long. After a while, the weight comes back, no matter what you do or don't eat. From what I understand it has to do with set points and your body's ability to control your energy output. When I'm losing weight, I feel very energetic, when I'm not, I drag and don't feel like doing anything. Why do articles like this pretend otherwise?
Frannie Zellman (Cherry Hill, NJ)
@Kate Blue, you are right. As David B. stated above, body acceptance and being in tune with one's body helps to keep the body nourished and nurtured, as opposed to dietiing/starvation, which predicts weight gain, not weight loss.
Dorothy Friedlander (Los Angeles)
This reads like an ad for Weight Watchers. While I agree with the self-esteem advice, I take issue with the lack of advice as to what constitutes healthy food. For that, I would recommend Forks Over Knives. Eating the right foods can make you healthier. Health, not weight loss, should be the main objective. That said, the role of exercise should never be discounted. There is a trinity of health: nutrition, sleep and exercise. Eating a plant based diet helps the environment as well as the individual. I threw out my scale over forty years ago, realizing that a third of the world goes to sleep hungry. We need to change how we think about food.
Pearl (NY)
@Dorothy Friedlander All of the positive weight loss advice you just mentioned are what Weight Watchers teaches - the proper tools to lose and maintain weight loss - a Lifestyle, not a diet. I lost, and have kept off 40lbs for many years by following their nutrition, sleep, exercise and mindset information.
Theresa (Seattle)
@Dorothy Friedlander You can follow the WW diet eating a totally plant-based diet. I know, because I have been doing it for the past 10 years. It was their "Simply Filling Option" where you eat lots of high fiber foods like beans, fruits and vegetables.
Mowgli (From New Jersey)
Definitely thinking about the food you are about to eat before you pop it into your mouth is my way of sustaining my current weight. Also planning lunch in relation to dinner balancing calories and nutrition is truly helpful. And yes, I have to hide chocolate from myself so as not to grab it easily or when I decide to treat myself, I count out the amount I will eat beforehand and TRY to refrain from a second helping. (not always successful at this, but do come to forgive myself and look to the next time having better control). Mindful eating is something I'm working on currently - really enjoying the taste and texture as it slows down the whole process.
Venks (In)
Exercise should always be a part of any good weight management program. Typically, walking around 5 kms in a day. Also, weight carrying exercise like farmers walk with weight in the 10-20 kg in each hand and doing that intermittently for 45 minutes. If one more than this, they should do that. Time restricted eating works, especially avoiding breakfast. Eating between 12 noon to 8 pm. Animal protein must be restricted. Then one need to choose either one of the following options 1) No need to worry about carbs or sugars in food and keep fat minimum. This is Ray peat diet. (or) 2) Eat fat till satisfaction but keep carbs minimal, this is the ketogenic diet. Eating to full satisfaction is important Calorie counting is never going to work!
Oh My (Upstate, New York)
@venks Sorry there animal protein? Thousands of people eat meat and veggies, skip the carbs = sugar. That’s all you have to do. It’s called keto diet and it works.
Kelly (MD)
Weightloss, despite Ms. Brody's deepest desires and judgement, is not just about self control. There is now a wealth of science researching the science behind obesity - the complex dance of hormones and brain chemistry and biology - that results in obesity. It isn't just "Jane eats more and can't resist the bright lights of McDonald's." Yes, we all have a role to play but there is a reason why most adults can't keep it off and that is because it isn't just will power.
Marian (New York)
@Kelly Thanks for your comments Kelly. Ms. Brody can't cover the entire breadth of conditions that cause weight gain, make it extremely difficult to lose, or both, but it would have been nice to get a mention! As someone who developed hypothyroidism, losing weight with this disorder is not as simple as it was when I was in my 20s and 30s. I hope the other two columns are more inclusive.
Denise Vander Waal (Florida)
I was advised to reduce inflammation in my body. I needed to eliminate these things: dairy, eggs, sugar, spice and alcohol. I have reduced or eliminated most of these, most of the time. I lost 6 pounds without trying and my arthritis is considerably better. For me, eliminating dairy was the hardest, but I believe I am much better without it.
Ann A (New York)
My mother-in-law always brings cookies and cakes, often baked by her, to family events. Before leaving, she always gives the remainders to my husband and not to other family members, I think because they have kids and don’t want them to have the access to unhealthy sweets. My husband can’t say no, but he can abstain when there are sweets in the house and I can’t. When I can, I sneak it back into the kitchen of whomever’s house we are visiting and let them deal with it.
Junewell (NYC)
@Ann A The only thing that works for me is to abstain from sweets entirely. There's no "safe amount" if you feel compelled to keep eating.
DAS (Sonoma)
@Ann A I graciously take the cake, pie, cookies home and throw them away. Your marriage contract doesn’t stipulate you eat your MIL’s baked goods.
Ann A (New York)
@Junewell, I’m ok as long as it’s not in the house. But if it is, I jones for it. It’s a sad side effect of menopause and alcohol recovery. But mostly, I just like blaming my mother-in-law.
ALB (Dutchess County NY)
I think we mostly eat because we are bored, or it's a habit to sit in front of the TV and mindlessly pop snacks in to the mouth. (Food companies do A LOT of research to keep you doing this). I think what helps combat this is to be in situations that don't have food involved and to have something to do. Learn to knit, crochet, sew, wood-carve —Any activity that keeps your hands busy is one that keeps you out of the fridge and the snack bag. It's also really good for your brain. These can also be social activities, so you meet new people and help keep your brain and waistline happy too! ( I know we are not to be in groups now, but the online craft community is world-wide and enormous, with a lot of online group things going on.)
Steve Mann (Big Island, Hawaii)
I feel for the fellow whose wife kept bringing home cookies. My tiny stepmother - and my 120-pound husband - had/have the infuriating habit of putting sweets and other empty foods in front of me - things they themselves do not eat. In my husband's case, often a re-gift of something he's been given. "Assigned eating" I call it, by way of asking him to slow it down. OK, I've got a good appetite, but at 70 I don't want to eat like growing adolescent just to avoid waste or please the people around me.
anne from france (france)
@Steve Mann If I can't give them away, I throw them out. I know, it's shocking. It took me 45 years to give myself permission to do this. But if nobody wants them, it is NOT my responsibility to fix that. If they don't agree to throwing them out, they can take them back.
Walking Man (Glenmont NY)
Diagnosed with hypertension and a high Calcium CT score I went on a diet. Stopped eating after dinner, cut out the English muffin with my morning cereal, and had a lighter lunch. I lost 30 pounds. I weigh myself once or twice a month and I walk 6-8 miles a day. My daughter, a runner, texted me she ran 6 miles and burned the equivalent calories of a Big Mac. Exercise just won’t cut it. Early on my wife would get annoyed if I wouldn’t have a cider donut or a piece of Thanksgiving pie. I KNOW I can’t cheat or treat myself. I view it this way: my mother reared us on junk food because no one thought it was a problem. Now I am working my way back to try and burn off that first Twinkie. Still have away to go.
Ron A (NJ)
@Walking Man I'm a runner, too, and it's true if I run 3 miles all I burn off is a bagel. But, the way I look at it, if I didn't run it would be much worse because I'd still eat the bagel. And, then some days, I'll go for 6 miles but still only have a bagel so now I'm banking a deficit- just a little, sure, but keeps me from gaining. Your walking mileage is very impressive btw. Walking is generally regarded as burning 1/2 that of running so you're racking up some nice negative calories yourself!
Bello (Western Mass)
Good article with practical advice. If you are overweight, adopt healthier eating habits, including portion control, and over time your weight will decrease. It also helps to be active, which promotes good health and reinforces a healthy diet mindset.
Ken Floyd (USVI)
I agree with most of the article, except for the last paragraph. Exercise is probably the basis for sustained weight-loss. Combined with reduced caloric intake, strength training, as well as aerobics, can create more lean body mass. The chance of being overweight and Aerobically Healthy is slim. The lean mass is also more metabolically active.
Ann A (New York)
I agree. I have lost 7 pounds since Christmas just by increasing my steps and getting to the gym at least once a week with little change to my diet. With the gyms closed, I’m working on creating an at-home gym.
Steve (NY)
I have to agree on the weigh-yourself-every-day method. When I had that habit, many years ago, I kept my weight off. Then life got busy and I stopped, and I indulged and I gained weight and now have a hard time taking it off.
DocJess999 (Pennsylvania)
I lost 106 pounds in 2006-2007. I have successfully kept off 95 of them ever since (and I lose the 11, I gain the 11, but I stay in that range). It is NOT easy. It does NOT get easier over time. It is a FOREVER battle -- especially since losing a lot of weight causes a drop in metabolism. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't lost all the weight and kept it off.
Elisabeth (Ca)
@DocJess999 well, I have also lost about 100 pounds and it is easier after a couple of years for me. I follow the Nutritarian plan so deprivation is not required. I also exercise regularly.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@DocJess999 : and is that conducive to a happy, joyful productive life -- living in constant hunger, deprivation and fear of weight gain? I cannot answer that for you. It sounds perfectly awful to ME. I don't want to live my life in a constant battle against metabolism and aging, and being constantly hungry. Your body, your choice. (Note that most of the humble-bragging posts here claim it is "easy" and they don't care about being hungry, and all it takes is XYZ diet or deprivation routine and now they have the bloodwork numbers of a teenage Olympic athlete!)
Kevin (Portland, Oregon)
A couple years ago I "accidentally" lost 40 pounds (180 to 140 pounds). As a short (5'2"), 59 year old man, carrying 180 pounds was too much for my frame. About two years ago I went on a sojourn to India for four months and really didn't think it through. I was overweight (have been all my life), had arthritis in my right hip and was out of shape. Without realistically thinking through things, I planned a four month trip where I was going to backpack through India. Long story short ... without realizing it until about two months into the trip, I was losing weight. I never got sick, was careful about what I ate, and walked 10 to 20 kilometers a day. About two weeks before the end of my trip, I stepped on a scale and was shocked to see I weighed 140 pounds. I have never weighed less than 170 pounds. It's been about 20 months since my trip and I've been able to keep the weight off. About two months ago I had a "tummy tuck" to remove the excess skin and I feel amazing. It has been much easier "keeping the weight off" versus trying to "lose the weight." I never buy empty calorie foods, stay away from flour, sugar, rice, and potatoes, and every day go for a 3 to 5 kilometer walk. I eat lots of vegetables and protein. Here's the most exciting part of my weight loss ... after being diabetic for 30 years, I am now off of all my medications and am easily maintaining a healthy A1C. Life is good ... too bad it took me almost 60 years to figure it out.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Kevin : you were surprised to learn you lost weight when you spent FOUR MONTHS hiking and backpacking through a third world nation? constantly on your feet moving carrying heavy weights? If this was NOT an attempt to lose weight, weren't you worried at all about being an overweight 55 year old tackling such an extreme outdoor adventure? BTW: my best friend went to India for 4 months and lost 40 lbs because she got amoebic dysentery (from the dirty water and filthy toilet systems there).
Kevin (Portland, Oregon)
@Concerned Citizen What I didn't say in the comment (nor had the space to say it) was that I am a relatively well-traveled person. I have a home in Mexico where I split my time between there and the US. If I'm not at my home in Mexico I'm traveling somewhere during the winter months. I know it seems unbelievable but I never really thought about what would happen in 4 months backpacking. I've traveled lots of places before carrying a backpack. I think the reason I lost weight was I was very very very careful about everything I ate in addition to the exercise.
Dr. Conde (Medford, MA.)
I personally love to exercise as it helps me manage my stress and tendency to get distracted or feel blue. I think that many people think that they're losing an enormous amount of calories through exercise, but even if you go hard or run for ten miles, you're not burning up more than you could eat. Nonetheless, exercise helps you feel better; it takes up time that you might waste eating mindlessly. It is an important part of weight maintenance and sustaining self-respect in times of loss, depression, and stress, the daily reality of many. It helps one feel in control, and that helps people not down-dog or beat themselves up for food "failures". I think it would be helpful if health insurance plans included Y memberships, or doctors could prescribe such, or sessions with trainers with weight loss certificates to help people get started on fitness. Or WW could start its own gyms! Shame, perfectionism, and loneliness are major components of overweight. Otherwise, just walk for an hour a day! You won't be eating during that time, and you'll feel better!
LRWalker (Raleigh, NC)
@Dr. Conde I like your positive attitude but I did want to point out that not everyone can walk for an hour due to injury and pain.
Terri (NYC)
What this article is pointing out is that weight control is a lifestyle NOT A DIET! I have been overweight most of my adult life until three years ago when I joined WW on my 68 birthday. I can’t say enough good things about WW. I lost 25 pounds, slowly over 6 months, at which point I graduated to being a LIFE MEMBER. This is a free service with all benefits of WW membership at NO COST. I weigh myself and track my meals each day. I can see immediately when I’m gaining and why. Eating smaller portions has become a habit, no longer a struggle. It’s very clear to me that weight management never stops, it’s a habit. At this point in my life its not about vanity, it’s about good health. I am also a cancer survivor and my oncologist has emphasized the necessity of healthy weight. She says there are over a dozen cancers related to obesity, all the more reason to stay on track.
gsteve (High Falls, NY)
There’s a saying I’ve learned that describes one excellent method to avoid temptation “Take yourself out of the equation.” There’s no chance of slipping up and gorging on ice cream late at night in front of the TV if there’s none in the house. I used to buy “treat” foods when shopping before finally admitting that I enjoyed treating myself a bit too often, not unlike the husband who was understandably upset when his wife brought home cookies he could not resist eating. Keeping temptation out of the house not only prevents cheating, but defuses the decision about whether to indulge, taking it off the table entirely.
Abraham (DC)
Very sensible. I wish this was a NYT pick. I get frustrated when I hear people say they were having trouble eating well because they kept bingeing on all the junk food in their pantry and refrigerator. Just don't bring it into the house, and you won't eat it! Why set yourself up for failure?
Kathy Rosenbloom (New York City)
I sing the praises of Weight Watchers. I struggled for quite some time trying to find a diet that made sense to me, with no success. Then two friends told me of their successes on losing weight and maintaining on WW. I was skeptical as I thought a lot of it was hype. But I was getting desperate, so I tried it. It is exceedingly easy to follow. I didn’t have to watch calories or carbs or fats or any other specific food groups. I didn’t have to go to meetings to weigh in.I could have a piece of buttered toast and coffee with milk in the morning and make a very tasty chicken dish for the evening. Snacked on fruits and vegetables throughout the day if need be.Nothing was prohibited, I just needed to be honest with my points. Without much effort at all I lost 30 pounds- 10 more than my goal- and this month is one year maintaining. Highly recommended for an easy, simple, and reasonable way of losing weight and of changing and maintaining healthy eating habits.
Martha Goff (Sacramento)
Whenever I read one of these articles, I always think (especially after reading the comments): different things work for different people. And what works for you this year might change over time, so it’s good to keep an open mind. Don’t pooh-pooh what comes from WW, for example, just because of the source. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Try the suggestions presented by the author and the commenters till you find one that fits. You can even stitch together ideas from different programs. Sometimes it can be just the way a thought is phrased that finally turns on the light (and not the one in the fridge).
Travelers (High On A Remote Desert Mountain)
We swim laps for one hour each day and cycle for one hour each day. That's about 1000 calories burned. Yet we continue to read that exercise doesn't work. How can 1000 calories burned not work? Where is the evidence that exercise doesn't work?
Ron A (NJ)
@Travelers The average person cannot maintain a rigorous daily workout like that, even an above average exerciser would find it difficult. But, if you can, it definitely would help you lose weight, even if you ate back some of those calories.
Oh My (Upstate, New York)
@travelers The average person cannot exercise the way you do. Time commitment and even the ability of finding a place to workout is a challenge. All one has to is cut carbs, ditch sugar. I did a/b testing. Doctor said 20 weight gain and Prediabetic. Went to gym everyday for an hour. Weight did not budge Eating a “healthy” diet with some fruit, a slice of bread, smoothies with a piece of banana Frustrated, read Jason Fung book. Ditched sugar adapted keto diet and intermittent fasting. Lost 20 pounds three weeks. Simply amazing. Have kept weight off by eating this way And guess what only exercise is swimming for 30 minutes everyday in summer.
Bill Keating (Long Island, NY)
@Travelers - When they say that exercise is not nearly as effective in lowering calories as diet, they are referring to the typical situation where someone takes a brisk 30 minute walk. Depending on how fast the person is walking, 100 to 150 calories might be burned. Rewarding oneself upon returning home with one nice chocolate chunk cookie would replace all the calories just burned. At your level of exercise, the calories you burn will be very significant in losing weight.
lizinsarasota (Sarasota)
I've been "doing" Weight Watchers for awhile, like, six or so years, but it didn't really click until I found a complementary exercise program that I enjoyed, which turned out to be "Megaformer" Pilates, developed by French entrepreneur now turned Hollywood trainer Sebastien Lagree. Not only did I shed my extra 40-plus pounds in a year, I have, insofar as is possible, rolled back my fitness to college levels. My abs are flat, my obliques are like iron, and I went from muffin-topping over a size 12 skirt to comfortably fitting into a size 6. Megaformer Pilates is difficult. I mean difficult. However, if "fitness" for you means being strong and weight-appropriate, see if there's a gym near you that teaches this method because it's life changing. With the fitness studio and WW shut down for the near future, I plan to do a lot of walking and planking for the duration. A 10-minute plank is no big deal for me right now, and that's no small accomplishment. Weight Watchers plus Megaformer Pilates is truly a 1-2 punch for looking, and feeling, great.
Pearl (NY)
@lizinsarasota WW will be starting virtual meetings on Thursday and there's support on their site
Cornflower Rhys (Washington, DC)
Goodness. An entire article about losing weight without one mention of reducing caloric intake and sustaining the reduction.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Cornflower Rhys : because what is really advocated here, especially by Ms. Brody, is a life lived in a constant state of hunger created by a diet based on deprivation and semi-starvation. To be as skinny as Jane Brody -- past menopause into your 9th decade -- requires a rigid, iron-clad deprivation diet of under 1000 calories a day. At 80, she won't even permit herself a single scoop of ice cream -- ever. If you wish to live like that, it's your choice. I choose happiness, joyfulness…good food…satiety.
Eero (Somewhere in America)
Having lost 30 pounds last year I am now struggling with beginning to gain weight because of stress related to the government and economy, aggravated by the corona virus and sheltering at home. Boredom is a huge diet defeat, and stress is too. I'll stick with the diet, I worked too hard to give up, but it is now much much harder to avoid "treats." Intermittent fasting sounds like it might be a good tactic.
Vernon Loeb (Philadelphia)
Intermittent fasting is the best way to lose weight and keep it off, and it takes very little effort or will power, once your body quickly adjusts to burning body fat, which all of us have plenty of. And, as an added benefit, intermittent fasting is the only way to get your body to autophagy, which offers a great boost to the immune system.
KHG (Falmouth, MA)
@Vernon Loeb - After about two months (like anything else) your body gets used to intermittent fasting.
Midwest roots (France)
@KHG That is why I change up my eating window every few days, my body does not know when food is coming. It's an interesting reality.
Mary Poppins (Out West)
@Vernon Loeb Best for who? Not for a lot of us.
Peggy (Sacramento)
I eat healthy all the time. I like to have a cookie every night and I do. I am a big fruit and vegey eater. I also eat meat, chicken and fish. I watch my portions, I do not eat too much and a very important thing is that I am a grazer. I tend to eat small amounts snacks, a carrot, a piece of rice cracker, grapes, all when I get hungry. I like small dinners and I do not like to get too full. I walk at least 2-3 miles every day. Diet??? I do not diet. Just eat right and remember not to fill yourself up at night and move as much as you can.
Tsippi (Chicago)
If your memory of Weight Watchers is from the '80s, '90s, and early 2000s, I recommend taking a look at the new program. I recently lost 25 pounds on WW, and I was never hungry -- a marked contrast to when I lost a similar amount of weight in 1990. While the new program is flexible enough that you can merge it with fasting, keto, or whatever, the beauty of an eating plan like Weight Watchers is that it is 100% sustainable for the rest of you life AND you don't have to give up your friends and social life while you're in weight loss mode. The other thing I recommend is buying an attractive scale that is easy to step onto. I get on the scale every morning. It's a lot easier to lose six ounces over a couple of days than to wait until you need to lose five or ten pounds.
Marner Silo (Dee Bee)
Calories in equals calories out, has been thoroughly debunked. It totally ignores that different foods while equal in calories are not equal in the way they combine or are used by the body. Reductionist formulas for health are counter productive. If it helps someone lose or keep off weight that’s great, in a narrow sense, but it could have other drawbacks for their health over time. It’s not science and shouldn’t be presented as such.
George N. Wells (Dover, NJ)
What causes any human to have a healthy weight is a healthy lifestyle. Our problem is that our technological abilities have changed faster than our biology. We can produce and deliver high calorie foods in quantities and low cost unbelievable to our ancient ancestors. We live far from our places of employment, education, social groups so we have to travel to all of them sitting in vehicles. Most of our "work" is mental and stress-filled as we juggle work-family-social and educational commitments. We don't sleep a lot and we are tired and tired can mimic hungry when a quick shot of sugar makes us feel more awake. I belonged to that group, as did my wife. I weighed in over 225 and she (under 5' tall) 155. We changed our life-style starting with portion control, added tandem bicycling and more walking to local places. Slowly, we trimmed down to 150 and 110 and have maintained that (+/-2.5lbs.) for over 20 years. Yes, we do weigh ourselves daily. We do eat out, but always split one meal and no desert, Main meal at mid-day, light snack in the evening and 8+ hours of sleep every night. Changing your life-style is not easy and not in synch with the larger culture (which is generally larger as well). Food is fuel, not a reward for accomplishments as we bribe our children into life long behaviors. There is no single one-best-way, only that which works for you and you can follow without feeling neglected or stressed. This worked for us.
John L (Portland)
This story is more anecdotal than based on facts. Weight Watchers is not a proven dietary regimen for keeping weight down. I know too many people who lose weight on it, then gain it all back. The truth is you need to eat less (but nutritiously), exercise more, and if anything try something like intermittent fasting as an approach that's proven wot work well.
Emma (Denis)
They gain it back because they go back to the old habits that drove them to their overweight People must understand that dietary good habits must be kept for life We are not meant to eat cakes everyday and sugary food.
Paulo (Brazil)
I disagree with "physical activity is not by itself very helpful with weight loss." I think it is very helpful. Any kind of physical movement is helpful when it comes to losing weight, let alone regular exercise at a gym or regular walks.
PatitaC (Westside, KCMO)
@Paulo I agree, in that being physically strong/fit makes it easier to resist or govern response to any desire to eat in an out of balance way. a stronger body makes a stronger will.
Andy Jo (Brooklyn, NY)
@Paulo Thank you for this. Movement helps every measure of health -- whether or not it is involved in weight loss. If one moves, one is better off than if one does not move. The fact that WW sponsored this study is reason enough to doubt its results.
Pearl (NY)
@Andy Jo WW promotes exercise, healthy eating in quality and amounts of foods, and mindset. I lost 40lbs over three years ago and I have been able to maintain it with all of the tools I have learned at WW. I think Jane Brody, and others on this thread, are simply saying that exercise alone cannot do it. WW is science-based.
I lost 30 pounds with WW and kept them off. My friend lost 20 pounds on Slim Fast and kept them off. Each program suits the needs, life style, and practices of a particular group of individuals. If we switched programs, my friend not I would have been successful because it didn’t suit us. No one program is better than the other. It is the program that fits the habits of that person.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@KP : OK, but both programs have an absolutely staggering history (in WW's case, over 60 years!) of utter failure. MILLIONS have gone on these diets, and 97% lose little or no weight, or lose some but gain it all back and more. If you permanently lost weight with WW, that's great for you but it only means you are an "extreme outlier". Plus, it is entirely self reported -- so no way to know if you really lost the weight that way or if you are actively starving yourself to maintain an artificially low weight.
SW (Sherman Oaks)
If you are dehydrated, you may be recognizing the cue as hunger not thirst. If you aren’t fully hydrated and you drink something dehydrating or eat food, you’ll become ravenous as your body now really needs the water. We say to drink your water but sometimes it just seems to flow through, without hydrating along the way. And then you feel hungry. As people age they tend to drink less water to avoid waking up during the night...which may make them get up and eat...keeping properly hydrated is the unsung hero of weight loss.
S. Spring (Chicago)
Allow me to second comments here supporting fasting as a weight maintenance strategy. I’m a 60 year old woman, and found that nothing—calorie reduction, regular vigorous exercise—produced lasting results. I’ve lost (and kept off) 25 lbs. by limiting my eating window daily (16/8) and doing a 72 hour water fast now and then. And my numbers are great, with BP and cholesterol of someone decades younger.
Beverly (Boston)
Ditto, although I’m 67. I’ve not tried the longer water fasts, but a 17/7 or 18/6 time restricted feeding window enabled me to lose 25 pounds and keep it off for a year thus far. And, lo, it’s not hard to do.
sam (flyoverland)
@Beverly - agreed. I'm 62, do intermittent fasting on 16/8 and do a total fast at least quarterly of 3d to 8d annually if I can. while my weight is good, my blood numbers are utterly phenomenal esp lipids and inflammatory markers. and those are the things that would kill me if left unchecked not so much if i have an extra 5# on me. so results over vanity and I'm there.
SRF (New York)
@Beverly What does 17/7 and 16/8 mean? Only 7 or 8 hours that you don't eat? Wouldn't that just mean that you don't eat in your sleep? Haha, but that's the schedule most of us keep. Must be the other way around.
Cheryl (Seattle)
I had a Weight Watchers leader announce to the group, “surrender to the tedium of weight management!” That has helped me all these years.
Amy M (Midwest)
I think experimenting with grocery pick-list shopping would be interesting. I’m pretty good at tuning out the recurring stuff I know I’m not going to buy, but there’s something new around every corner at the supermarket. Strawberry Twinkies! Magic Fruity Pebbles! They would probably not be as appealing on a click-lost. I know, just ignore it, but these people are good at marketing.
Dasha Kasakova (Malibu CA)
To eat, or not to eat, that is the question Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fat shaming, Or to take Arms against a Sea of trolls, And by opposing end them: to diet, to slim; No less; and by a slimming, to say we end The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks That Flesh is heir to?
minkairship (Philadelphia, PA)
@Dasha Kasakova How is an article promoting long-term weight maintenance "outrageous fat-shaming"? Are heavy individuals mocked anywhere in this article for their their food choices or for (the leftist SJW's rallying cray) "taking up space"? Shaming anyone is mean-spirited. This piece isn't.
pearlsmom (Las Cruces, NM)
@Dasha Kasakova Brilliant! Thank you.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@minkairship : Jane Brody has a long, long history here of shaming and blaming fat people, and holding herself -- a person with a clear eating disorder -- up as an example to follow.
Orion Clemens (CS)
This is just one person's anecdotal history, but I do offer it, as it may help some people lose weight, and more importantly, keep it off. I'm a woman in my 60's. I was very overweight as a teenager. At that time, I did manage to lose 45 lbs, to get to the 120 I am today. And lest anyone believe this is not a significant weight loss, I am 5' tall. And 120 lbs is more than enough weight for someone my height to carry. By the way, I don't have "skinny" genes. Every woman in my family is heavy. It is not unusual to lose 45 lbs. It is more unusual, though, for anyone to keep off a substantial amount of weight for any length of time. I have done this for almost 50 years now. My weight has not varied more than 5 lbs, except for when I was pregnant. I weigh the same thing now as I did when I was 20 years old. So how did I do it? I stopped eating at night. I eat full meals every day. I don't limit the types of foods I eat. I eat from 8 am to 4 pm. By 5 pm, I'm through eating for the day. I've done this for decades now, and I believe it has been the single biggest habit I've developed to control my weight. The beauty of this regimen is that one need only look at the clock. If it is before a certain hour (5 pm in my case), then I may eat something. If it is later, then I don't. I understand this practice will not be for everyone. But my decades of success with it tell me that it many work for some.
TimT (Illinois)
@Orion Clemens Well done! You are practicing time-restricted eating. An eight-hour eating window is very effective but it's not easy for a lot of us to practice. A window as long as 12 hours can be helpful but each hour you shorten it, it works much better. Satchin Panda at the Salk Institute has written up his research on why this results in weight loss and also prevents metabolic disorders.
Kay (Midwest)
@Orion Clemens I have followed a similar regime for decades. I grew up on a working family farm. From a very early age, I learned to be up by 4:45AM as my chores needed done before school. I helped milk our cows, fed horses & chickens, all before school. My family had our biggest meal at breakfast, a moderate lunch and only homemade cheese, or a glass of fresh milk, or yogurt for dinner. We were all in bed by 9 pm. This routine has stuck with me my entire life, now in my senior years. I still get up by 5, and get going. I still eat the same way with organic foods etc. i still make my own plain yogurt, which has remained my nightly meal, along with water, for decades. I weigh the same as I did in high school. I’m certain my genetics plays a role, too. Also, my family did not see food as anything other than the fuel needed to complete the day’s work. So I did not grow up with the notion of comfort food, snacking or seeing food as a social connection. We rarely ever ate at restaurants; maybe once a year, if that. Our family special occasions focused on outings. On birthdays, we were asked, “ what would you like to do?” vs the traditional, “what would you like your birthday dinner to be and what type of cake?” Not necessarily a better way to be raised, merely offering a different perspective.
Cleo D. (Pittsburgh PA)
@Kay Even as a "desk jockey", even back when I stayed home with my kids, I have always done better energy wise and felt better having my biggest meal in the morning. A breakfast of a piece of salmon or chicken breast and some steamed spinach ( which I put on the stove while I shower and dress) keeps me fueled and not hungry til mid afternoon. As Adele Davis said: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.
John Krumm (Duluth)
So far the easiest way for me to lose some weight and keep it off has been adopting a plant based, whole foods diet, which includes restricting oils. I still get fats through seeds, nuts, avocados and soy, but not much else. Fiber intake is much, much higher, as is overall fruit and leafy greens intake, but also plenty of starchy plants like beans, grains, potatoes and sweet potatoes. No restrictions on quantity, which is nice.
GEH (Los Angeles)
i was not finally successful at weight loss until I adopted intermittent fasting. Just sayin’. I lost 50 lbs. and have kept it off for five years. Even though I’m no longer actively losing weight, I still fast intermittently for 18-24 hours on some days. Most importantly, I have changed my relationship with food. Going extended periods without eating is no longer a big deal.
Peggy (NY)
@GEH So many of these remedies are great for singles, but not for dieters living with a hungry spouse/family.
Fritz Ziegler (New Orleans)
For the large number of people who don't tolerate carbs well, "Everything is on the menu" is a formula for dying early even if thin. The harm that sugar and whole grains, and even fruit, does to many of us cannot be ignored except by the lucky few. There are many skinny-fat people out there with Type II diabetes. It's trickier than we think to figure out who the rare lucky, carb-tolerant person is. See "Good Calories, Bad Calories," by Gary Taubes.
John Krumm (Duluth)
@Fritz Ziegler Taube's book has been thoroughly debunked. I much prefer "How Not To Die" by Dr. Michael Gregor, though there was a time when I believed Taubes.
LJ (Rochester, NY)
@Fritz Ziegler I agree. I have lost 50 pounds in eight months. My triglycerides, blood sugar, and cholesterol have normalized. I consider myself to have an allergy to carbohydrates; with a minimum of them (20 g/day) I have lost weight, not felt hungry, and experienced more energy and satisfaction with the foods that are OK for me to eat. My PCP, who announced last year that I was pre-diabetic, is impressed even though this diet contradicts standard understandings of how to eat to lose weight.
@John Krumm - Taube’s book has NOT been thoroughly debunked. But some people are going to believe what they want to believe, no matter what, I guess... I’ve read Gregor’s book too. It’s all over the place and overstated.
Richard (Palm City)
Never ever go out to eat. Never entertain. Never have desserts. Never eat bread. Always cook your own food. Meat plus starch plus veggie.
Christina (Brooklyn)
No thanks.
BH (Maryland)
@Richard just kill me. Now.
Mark Gray (Seattle)
@Richard I am quite certain that I would vastly prefer being a fat guy to taking your suggestions.
Charlotte Cheetham (Hertfordshire, UK)
I have tried so hard to keep my weight down through healthy eating and exercise. However, as a woman going through the menopause I find it even more difficult to keep my weight down. I guess it is important to understand that weight loss is a slow process and that people need to adhere to a strict regime of healthy eating alongside exercising. This article is very informative and provides some great advice.
DG (Ithaca, New York)
@Charlotte Cheetham I read that producing the monthly uterine lining takes 3000 calories. That translates to needing 100 fewer calories each day after menopause. A small daily adjustment downward in caloric intake can keep the pounds from adding up in the post-menopausal years.
Susan (Western MA)
@Charlotte Cheetham Me too. Yay, the gift of menopause. I have the added kicker of Hashimoto's ... so my immune system is all in on killing my thyroid gland, which is the seat of my metabolism. Luckily, as a middle aged woman, no one looks at me anymore.
Marty (Pacific Northwest)
@Charlotte Cheetham Ahhh, that time of life. I have never been a big eater. Never a fan of sweets or overly rich food. Was into natural, whole foods long before Madison Avenue took notice. Have been moderately active most of my life, very active during early middle age. I also have been naturally slender, due partly to the above, but mostly to luck. Not anymore. A couple of years past menopause I started to gain two pounds per year, year in, year out. About two years ago, when the total gain hit 20 pounds (on my small, 5-3 frame) I spent a couple of months moderately lowering my carbs and dramatically raising my activity level. Lost 12 pounds. Resumed my normal, sensible eating habits and normal activity levels. Gained all 12 pounds back plus a bonus of 3 more. Our bodies may sense when we are nearing the end of this part of the ride. They may figure that soon enough we will weigh nothing -- and weigh nothing forever -- and fight that fate ferociously.
TurandotNeverSleeps (New York, NY)
Weight Watchers - or “WW”, the firm’s attempt to be more hip - is still the organization whose business model has been supplanted by more contemporary, easier-to-use, and more reliable weight loss methods, most of them safer via apps that only the user gets to see. The WW group meetings still harbor the image of the mandatory (and mortifying) weigh-ins, the arcane and Byzantine “points” logs (which have little or no relation to real life calorie translations), the atmosphere of a 12-step addiction treatment program as WW members share the week’s triumphs (“...ate salads every single day!!”) or “failures” (“...threw myself into that dessert cart!!!”) and look plaintively to the group facilitator and fellow members for reassurance or tsk-tsk disguised as motivational cliches. Full disclosure: ten years ago, I lost 60 pounds on Weight Watchers in 18 months, through monitoring, logging in its online food diary, and exercise. Three years into maintenance mode, WW changed the points system, making it virtually impossible to follow and I turned to other means. The one app that has worked for me is LoseIt, where you log your weight and goals, abide by the app’s daily calorie budget and pretty much eat normally without excess, and exercise accordingly. Needing to lose weight again this year, I went back to LoseIt, and have lost 10 pounds in 10 weeks. By the way, Gary Foster has been on WW’s payroll for decades. How does that render credibility???
Bambam (CT)
@TurandotNeverSleeps I had a similar experience with Weight Watchers, and unfortunately became very obsessive about weight and food, bordering on disordered eating. Thanks for the suggestion of the lose it app. Now to keep it in perspective...
KySgt64 (VA)
@TurandotNeverSleeps - There is no reason for you to follow any of the "new" WW points systems; you can use whichever one was working for you. I use LoseIt now, as well, and as others have commented, it's important to WRITE DOWN whatever you are consuming as a means to stay accountable to yourself!
Suzzie (NOLA)
We get it. You failed to maintain your weight loss because WW changed to the points system that you couldn’t understand. So you decided to trash the company the has helped thousands lose and maintain their weight. Yes. I go to WW and it works for me. Easy? No. Good luck with your app and no human interaction.
Lynde (Portland OR)
This is the antithesis of a plant based diet that is not obsessed with weighing yourself everyday and instead is focused on healthy eating.
Happy (Brooklyn)
@Lynde I know plenty of fat vegans. Plants have calories too, for good or ill.
Glen Ridge Girl (NYC metro)
Most people who reach their goal weight revert to the same eating habits that got them fat in the first place. Of course they quickly regain the weight they lost. I have learned after years of struggling with my weight that keeping weight off requires me to eat no more than I did while losing the weight. And that's fine. After around ten years of eating this way, I have become totally accustomed to eating less than I used to, eating a healthier diet, and having just a cookie or two at the end of the day. I enjoy my food more now than I used to, and I feel much better than I did years ago.
Colorado Teacher (Denver)
I’m with you. I finally changed my relationship with food instead of “waiting to get off the diet” so I could go back to eating what I wanted.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Glen Ridge Girl : that's fine. Since you are an adult, you can choose to eat any way you can. But reality and science prove to us that 97% of dieters either don't lose much or any weight, and what they lose, they regain quickly (with a few extra pounds as punishment for even trying). You are basically telling people they must live on a severe, food-restricted diet FOREVER -- constantly hungry, constantly deprived. In other articles, Ms. Brody -- who is 80! -- says she has spent more than half her life in a constant state of hunger. Is that worth it, to be very very skinny? Only you can answer that -- for yourself.
Peggy (NY)
@Concerned Citizen Well, yes! you have to be on a food-restricted diet FOREVER! Otherwise you will re-gain all the weight. Funny thing is, it does not seem to be deprivation after a while, but normal eating. There are simply some things you can never eat again. It's like giving up smoking...terrible for a while, but then you stop thinking about it.
Chris (UK)
I agree with a lot of the content of this article. What works for me is tracking my calories with one of those apps like Fatsecret, etc. I found that as a person who had overeaten for decades I literally had no idea what I was throwing down my gullet. This method also allows me to eat a treat, but compensate for it later so that overall I stay within target. A good exercise regimen and eating mostly plants has also helped. One small point: avoid those zero-calorie sweetener products. I have found time and again that when I have a "diet" drink every day for more than a few days I become ravenously hungry, and for the wrong sort of things. I found this again only last week.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Chris : though I don't drink it daily, I enjoy a Diet Coke on occasion. I also drink iced tea with artificial sweetener. It's not to lose weight so much as to consume less sugar. And I have NEVER experienced what you say here -- that it makes me unusually hungry. It's just a thirst-quenching drink. I suspect your "cravings" have more to do with your internal struggles about "good food" (low calories) vs. "bad food" (high calories) -- turning eating into some kind of moral struggle.
Dr. J (CT)
A “diet” is a recipe for failure. Losing weight and maintaining that loss requires a change in eating habits — for life. And what to change to is well known. I first practiced portion control and making healthier choices to lose weight and keep it off. But when I switched to eating whole plant foods (avoiding processed and prepared foods and animal products), I lost another 10 lbs without meaning to, and my husband lost 20 — though we were both at what we considered healthy weights. And we’ve maintained those weights for several years.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Dr. J : you lost weight on a vegan diet, because the food is repulsive, tasteless and disgusting. You might as well say "go on a diet of only rotten, putrified garbage that you dug out of the city dump and you will lose weight". NOTE: losing weight when you do not need to lose weight is not a good sign. In fact, if my husband lost 20 lbs of healthy normal weight -- I'd have at the doctor's, ASAP, to be checked for cancer.
Dr. J (WH)
@Concerned Citizen i am surprised by your harsh and critical response, when you don’t seem to know much about whole plant food eating. Which is not necessarily vegan, since many processed and commercially prepared vegan foods are junk foods — and we don’t eat those. First of all, my food is delicious!! I eat lots of veggies and fruit, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, and split peas) and whole grains (not processed), and nuts and seeds in moderation. I cook most of my meals from home, since my options for dining out are so limited. And because I avoid processed and commercially prepared foods. Second, my husband already was diagnosed with and treated for cancer before we met — when he was overweight. And being overweight was a risk factor for his cancer. He lost weight when we started eating vegetarian meals together, by practicing portion control and making healtheir choices. Third, we do not have the common lifestyle disabilities or diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, T2 diabetes, kidney disease, high BP or cholesterol, etc. We haven’t had joints replaced, etc. We are still active, and do our own yard work, gardening, snow shoveling, etc. Finally, we are each at almost the same weights we were in HS (still a bit above). And we’re ok with that. And so are our doctors. I don’t understand your extremely negative reaction. Perhaps you don’t like reading what I wrote?
The Pooch (Wendell, MA)
@Dr. J Lots of people lose weight and improve health on whole foods omnivorous diets. Much of the weight lost on vegan diets is muscle mass.
Bruce Glassford (Canada)
So the study (co-authored by an employee of a weight loss organization) compared a list of people who were successful with that one specific regimen, and a number of people who either didn't follow a diet regimen or weren't successful at losing weight, and came up with the unsurprising conclusion that the specific diet regimen studied was successful and the techniques they promulgate are effective. Waste of a bunch of good electrons.
Gerri Dauer (Bucks County)
I believe the point of the article is that it is a mind set of having healthy eating as a lifestyle rather than a diet that you go off. I can speak from experience that if I keep a food diary and monitor my portions I lose weight. If I continue making those good choices, I keep it off. It doesn’t matter if I have a day of bad choices if I go back to what I know is the right way to eat the next day. The problem comes in when people consider it a diet and deprivation and a failure if they have a bad day and then don’t continue good habits. It doesn’t matter who sponsored the study when anyone doing this study comes up with these same basic facts. They didn’t say anywhere in the article, WW is the way to lose weight, or the only way.
In deed (Lower 48)
@Gerri Dauer I believe the point of the comment was this ain’t science. Which is true.
See also