The National Institute for Health recently released the results of the longest and largest weight loss maintenance study conducted. The results – not terribly astounding in my opinion. The support of personalized counseling outranked web support and self-guidance in sustaining weight loss over a period of two years.
According to the NIH, “At the end of the study, participants receiving personal counseling retained an average weight loss of 9.2 pounds, compared to an average of 7.3 pounds for those using the Web-based intervention and 6.4 pounds for those in the self-directed group. Personal counseling sessions were brief and mainly by telephone. The Web site was developed to provide the same advice as personal counseling. Both interventions were designed to be practical to implement in a variety of settings.”
Why would phone counseling be the most beneficial? All I can offer is my own theories and experience.
Human beings are social creatures. As a species we have learned to rely upon and connect with one another in order to survive. Those who come to me after trying to go solo are frustrated, confused, and de-motivated. Receiving personal support allows the individual to receive what they need, when they need it. This is something the media or a book simply cannot offer. Often there are also struggles with following a healthy food plan when the social circle one is interacting with is not committed to such a lifestyle. The individual then must make the choice of isolating to stay on the diet or socializing and risking falling off the plan. A healthy lifestyle is very difficult to sustain without at least one other individual committed to supporting it. Simply put, our culture is not set up to sustain health without a great deal of support and some savvy, defensive eating skills!
Web support touches on some individual needs, but what is missing is the subtle nuances that enhance communication; rapid exchange of ideas or needs and tonal inflection which can indicate that there are deeper issues to be explored. When on the phone or in person, these subtleties are not hidden behind text. The counselor and counselee can establish a deeper bond through an “I hear you, I see you” type interaction that is much more difficult to obtain via the internet. This multi-sense communication will enhance results through a stronger bond between the two parties, and an ability for the counselor to pick up on subtle cues which may be missed over email.
If you feel frustrated with going it alone, confused about the conflicting messages of the media, or are ready for additional support to meet your health goals, consider reaching out for additional support. It’s only natural, and studies show it’s the most effective way to get the job done!
To read the NIH press release in full, click here:
To schedule an initial consultation to see if personal nutrition coaching is right for you, click here: