2. You have to exercise more than you think.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting at least thirty minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week; this includes things like shoveling snow and gardening. And while this is great for improving heart health and staying active, research indicates that those looking to lose weight or maintain weight loss have to do more—about twice as much.
For instance, members of the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)—a group of over 5,000 individuals who have lost an average of sixty-six pounds and kept it off for five and a half years—exercise for about an hour, every day.
A study published in the July 28, 2008 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine supports this observational finding. The researchers enrolled 200 overweight and obese women on a diet and exercise regimen and followed them for two years. Compared with those that gained some of their weight back, the women who were able to sustain a weight loss of 10 percent of their initial weight for two years exercised consistently and regularly—about 275 minutes a week, or fifty-five minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
In other words, things like taking the stairs, walking to the store, and gardening are great ways to boost activity level, but losing serious weight means exercising regularly for an hour or so. However, this doesn’t mean you have to start running or kickboxing—the most frequently reported form of activity in the NWCR group is walking.
3. One size does not fit all.
Though most diet plans and advice make it seem as if their plan is the plan for the masses, the truth is that when it comes to weight loss—and essentially, lifestyle—there’s no one plan, exercise, or regimen that will work for everyone. A vegetarian might be lost on an Atkins diet, someone who prefers team sports might be completely unhappy at the gym, and a late riser could never find a morning workout routine feasible. Finding your own rhythm, diet preferences, and exercise types means not ascribing to a one-size-fits-all scheme that many marketers try to push. Don’t force something that’s not natural and you’ll be happier—and chances are you’ll stick with it for the long haul.