Good health is more than a thing of beauty.
Those looking to lose weight may have more success when their goal is oriented toward good health, rather than vanity, a new study of more than 200,000 dieters has revealed.
It’s one of the largest and latest weight loss behavior studies to date, according to the Mayo Clinic Diet, which found that 83% of participants, who shared an average age of 52, valued their health above all other aspirations during their weight loss journey.
The shift in outlook could have something to do with the fact 55% of participants had already tried — and failed — at least six different diet trends in their lifetime, including fad and purportedly rapid weight loss plans.
On-again, off-again dieter Becky Hubbard, 38, told The Post that it took decades to shake the shame of being overweight — before she could make real progress. Hubbard was just 10 years old the first time she remembers someone “drawing attention” to her weight and the fact that her being bigger “might not be a good thing.”
“As a teenager, of course, I tried starving myself, which worked, but obviously not healthy,” she said, before moving on to the many “fad diets” she’s tried, such as the Atkins diet, Weight Watchers and the keto diet. “I just found that I could not sustain [them] long term.”
The key to weight loss success came down to their “intrinsic” motivation to live a healthier lifestyle, according to study authors — who saw notable success among people following their own Mayo Clinic Diet.
For Hubbard, her drive to get healthy ultimately came down to her interest in building a family, as opposed to simply looking fit. She and her husband — a triathlete who adheres to a strict diet of his own — had tried to conceive “for a while” before her doctor suggested they might be “more successful” if she lost weight.
Coupled with light exercise — Hubbard likes long walks and hikes — the Mayo Clinic Diet, which starts at $20 a month for a year commitment, has helped her lose 43 pounds and 28 inches on her waist since January. “It doesn’t feel restrictive at all to me,” she said of their customizable approach. “I like that freedom.”
A sub-sample of participants currently on the Mayo Clinic’s regimen lost the same amount of weight on average — 5.1% of body weight at 12 weeks — regardless of how high or low their level of motivation had been at the start of the diet.
Their approach “is about practical and sustainable lifestyle changes,” Dr. Donald Hensrud, the medical director at Mayo Clinic Diet, told The Post, enabling participants greater autonomy over their meals. “It includes flexible meal plans and recipes … which helps members swap unhealthy habits for healthy habits.”
Beginning with an online assessment, their program delivers personalized meal plans, recipes and advice to suit your needs, tastes and goals, including tools like the Habit Optimizer, which allows users to make easy swaps as they eat, and a food tracker so you can learn more about what’s going into your body. The Mayo Clinic Diet is also mindful of those who stick to plant-based foods, or have food allergies and sensitivities to avoid.
Serial dieter follower Nick Torres, 60, told The Post, “I’ve eaten my share of cabbage soup, which I don’t recommend to anyone. I’ve done them all.”
Torres said other diets were too simplistic, asking adherents to give up entire food groups — for good — in order to keep weight off. Rather, the Mayo Clinic method isn’t about achieving fast results. “This is about your diet,” he stressed, and “common sense” education so you can make smart choices on your own.
He’s lost 54 pounds since September by maintaining healthy habits, including daily walks through his neighborhood, and feels like a new man now.
Said Torres, “I did not ever think I’d be able to say, I do not want any more bacon.”