If you're like some folks, the moment 2011 arrived you found your new holiday sweater, the one that felt a touch snug on first wearing, now seems even tighter and it hasn't been washed yet. If you're considering re-gifting that sweater, instead of losing some weight, keep reading.
A 2006 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of some 2,000 people contradicts a generally accepted statistic (that 90-percent of all weight losers regain the weight) by showing that more than 30-percent of folks who lose weight are able to maintain their weight loss.
If those positive results have you thinking you just may head for a pay-as-you-go weight loss program, or an at-home do-it-yourself weight-loss diet consider some tried-and-true possibilities from the CDC's study results.
The study showed that the five most common techniques that resulted in weight loss were: reducing the amount of food consumed (it's really about calories in, calories out), eating more vegetables and fruit (eschewing snack foods), restricting portions, limiting fatty foods and consuming no sugars-sweetened beverages.
Behavior plays an important role too. The study showed that potential for success relies on: planning meals, tracking calories and fat, measuring the food on your plate and weighing yourself every day. In addition, you're more likely to be successful if you walk or exercise for 30 minutes every day, and, surprisingly enough, if you cook or bake for fun. That last point strikes down my assumption that staying out of the kitchen would be helpful.
The most successful tactics were meal planning and tracking. The study showed that meals planned with the intention of reducing calories and fat aided weight lost. By keeping an honest, accurate daily food diary people also increased the likelihood of weight loss and weight maintenance.
The study found it's more important to have a weight-loss strategy than which strategy you choose. The potential for weight-loss success didn't seem to matter whether folks counted calories or reduced portion size, ate fewer fatty foods or consumed reduced-fat products -- they all lost weight. On the flip side, people were less likely to lose weight if they made excuses not to exercise, often ate away from home, eschewed healthy foods as not satisfying or costing too much or turned to over-the-counter diet products or tried to diet during the week and splurge on the weekends.
So if you want your holiday sweater to fit comfortably or even loosely, paying attention to what the CDC learned from their study could help you lose weight, which may mean that your new sweater's not going to ever be re-gifted.
Try this recipe: I created my version of this classic Italian soup almost 20 years ago. It's easy to make, takes little effort (especially if you have an electric can opener) and tastes terrific, yet it's low in calories and very filling. Give it a try.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.