The study was conducted by Dr Gilly Hendrie and ourHuman Health Research team. It included 6602 TWD members who had completed the 12-week program and continued to record insights in the TWD online platform for up to a year.
We found the combination of consistency, new habits, vitality and the right mindset, tools and education, was the secret to long-term success.
Positive lifestyle change
We found regular self-monitoring behaviours and tracking tools were critical to long-term weight loss. When we delved deeper and analysed interviews with members who had lost at least 14 kilograms of weight, we were able to go beyond the statistics and understand how members made successful and sustainable long-term lifestyle change.
“We know there are no quick fixes when it comes to sustainable weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. And this study helps us to show that making lifestyle changes comes from a range of regular actions and positive behaviours,” Gilly said.
Here's some key insights and quotes from our interviews.
Lifestyle changes take time
We know, from more than 20 years of research, developing a healthy lifestyle takes time and patience.
“For a lot of people, getting started means re-learning things like good nutrition and cooking healthy meals. There are habits and mindsets that can really influence the way we approach health and nutrition,” Gilly said.
“My whole focus I guess about weight loss has changed. I don't look at it as a diet anymore. It's now, as I said, a way of life.”
“Removing that sugar coating and saying right from the start – look, it (change) will be hard but if you stick with it, you will get the results you want. As opposed to – it's going to be really, really easy and you will love it.”
“I think you've got to have that mindset that this is about the rest of my life, it's not about just where I'm at today...”
New habits, mindset and tools matter
Participants spoke most frequently about consistency, commitment and practical advice and education around diet. Many also spoke about psychological variables such as being ready, motivated, disciplined and doing it for the ‘right reasons’ as being important for long term behaviour change success.
“Practical advice and education are a real stand-out first step. Changing our lifestyle behaviours really starts with changing the way we think. Next is learning to do things in a new way,” Gilly said.
“Mindset is especially important. All these things combined make lifestyle change a holistic approach. We can see from this study it’s not one of these things, but all of them that make real shifts.”
“For me, because it was part of my dietary routine, I didn't have to think about it, it's just almost automatic…”
“…(I) actually plan a lot more. I absolutely am more consistent.
“Make sure it's really what you want to do, make sure you're doing it for you not for someone else. You know, not because your family says, or people saying it, all that sort of stuff, because I think that makes a huge difference.”
“In the maintenance, the motivation drops off a bit. So it needs occasional spurts of effort, you know, you need to pull yourself up and say - okay, enough now, put some effort in and get back on track.”
Vitality is something you can develop
Participants spoke about vitality – being more active, more interested, but also more integrated with the community.
“From the survey data, vitality predicted greater lifetime weight loss,” Gilly said.
“Those who achieved good weight loss over two years or more also spoke about how weight loss had improved their levels of energy.”
“I have much more health and vitality.”
“I just feel better all around, you know, you get a brighter outlook and you can manage things easy. You can do life. You get a bit more, um, enthusiasm to do stuff.”
“I've got energy, I'm active, I contribute. You know, those things are really quite important to me.”
Implementing the science
About 67 per cent of Australians are now considered overweight or obese, and making a significant lifestyle change has its challenges. But this study shows it's achievable over the long-term.
“Be prepared to invest time in re-learning in areas like nutrition and mindset. Find some tried and tested tools that help you to stay on track,” Gilly said.
“Finally – it’ll take time. But we have the science to prove that not only is it achievable but it’s worth it.”