5 Secrets of the 5%

More elusive than Bigfoot, more mysterious than the alien residents of Area 51—they’re so anonymous, we’re tempted to ask "do these people actually exist?" I’m here to tell you that YES they do exist. You may even know one or two.

They’re the legendary 5% of people who have lost weight and actually kept it off for the long-term. If you’ve never met one these people before, don’t be surprised. They prefer to stay relatively unknown. Having discovered the prized secret to a healthy lifestyle, they tend to enjoy their status and privacy.

But what about the other 95% of us who have struggled with weight loss and continue to do so? Are we doomed to a life of frustration and failure, with no promise of good health in sight?

Of course not! At SparkPeople, I’ve witnessed a lot of these 5%ers in action. I wondered, what do they do differently than the rest of us? After a non-scientific review, I was able to boil it down to a handful of key strategies and tactics that are pretty common among people who succeed. For the first time, their secret is out. The doors are blown off. Join me in exploring these secrets and use them in your own life. Pretty soon, you can be part of this group too.

The 5%…

  1. …Make It Public. The 5% generally don’t keep their weight loss efforts to themselves. They recruit supporters. They ask for help. They swap war stories with friends. They give and take encouragement. Often a goal buddy is involved, or at least a positive, supportive friend who holds the dieter accountable. Studies show that just by writing down or announcing your goals, you automatically increase your chances of success. Keeping a Community Journal or blog is a non-threatening, productive way to make your goals public.
  2. …Pay Attention. A permanent, healthy lifestyle is created on purpose. Planning, tracking, reading menus, asking questions, following progress reports—they’re all part of the 5% strategy of knowing what’s going on and preventing setbacks. This crowd doesn’t believe in fooling themselves or relying on chance to make things happen. Usually (if not always) aware of the foods they eat, and on the lookout for opportunities to stay active, they know that good health is no accident. Nutrition Trackers and Fitness Planners play key roles in this strategy.
  3. …Enjoy Themselves. There’s a reason that a healthy lifestyle sticks around for this small minority. They make weight loss a positive experience and have fun with it. Because they feel good about their goals and their new habits, they also feel good about themselves and what they’ve accomplished. Programs based on negative messages, dread, resignation, or criticism are doomed to disappear. Optimists are proven to reach more goals than pessimists. They also live healthier, longer lives.
  4. …Make Gradual Changes. The 5% know that permanent change is a process, not a 21-day event. Able to see what waits on the horizon, they spend time building a few small habits at a time, rather than diving into a program that’s totally incompatible with their current lifestyle. Too much too soon is like moving to a new country and expecting to adopt the new culture and language in a week. It works much better if you simply stick around and pick up a few bits and pieces at a time.
  5. …Allow Themselves To Fail. It’s a guaranteed certainty. Every one of the 5% has failed at some point along their weight loss journey. The difference is that they learned to forgive setbacks and refused to beat themselves up. Every failure is simply one step closer to ultimate success. With this outlook, and using lessons learned along the way, they kept these setbacks from turning into full-fledged disasters.

Not so mysterious, now that you know their secrets, huh? A permanent, healthy lifestyle may be closer than you think!

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Member Comments

Great article, maintaining is not easy. Report
Love this article!!! Report
Couldn't have said it better myself. What I've learned is ya gotta ask yourself what you can learn from a mistake or even a SUCCESS. SP has definitely helped me with support and setting goals so Kudos to SPARK PEOPLE. Report
Good article. Report
Good article. Report
Great article! Being in the 5% is really scary. I'm afraid of of becoming part of the 95%. I NEVER want to be fat again. But it keeps me in line so I don't gain it back. So it's a good scary. An incentive! Report
I have made a whole lifestyle change so my weight loss is for ever Report
As others before me noted,
we have a great supportive team here on SP called At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance

235 to the SP team of Maintainers
and Happy New Year to you!

Come over and check out our team threads to see maintenance is possible.
Takes persistent learning and practice, yes, but it is absolutely doable.

I'm part of the (is it really only?) 5%. Have lost 100 lbs (over 17 months) and kept it off (for 4 additional months so far). No question that I will not regain that weight as I am perfectly happy with new habits and routines--this article describes it perfectly. It seems odd to think I used to enjoy sugary drinks, fried foods, etc. as I don't even miss them now! I've decided to revise my goal and attempt to lose an additional 15 lbs over the next six months, but we'll see if that's where my body and mind want to be or if this is good (healthy BMI where I am today, so no reason to push overly hard besides vanity and a desire to be mid-range instead of "high normal"). It CAN be done, even if you've tried unsuccessfully several times in the past. Report
Not sure how long it is after you reach goal weight to be classed as one of these 5%.

I feel like I am. All of the above 5 points apply.

I halved my weight over around 3 years and have remained pretty stable for around 6 months now. I have blips when I put weight on - holiday times, Christmas being a good example, but have always taken it right of again afterwards. This Christmas doubles up with my 50th birthday and I am extending my normal 2 weeks by a week and going for a cruise. I am running every day, but still have put on around 10LB.

I will take this of and be back to my gaol weight by mid Feb, maybe even sooner, but I don't feel any need to rush it, and I am not panicked at all. So long as I am back to my target by March when I have my first half marathon of 2016 I will be happy.

And that's what keeps me focused. Races. As soon as I added a point to the weight loss beyond the obvious it became much easier to stay focussed over the long time. Loosing the CPAP mask was an added bonus, but I am never going back to that! Report
Good! Forgiveness of one day of messing up very important. I must do it from time to time. Particularly when I spend a day or two away from home. Positive attitude, I try, i think most of us do have some that aren't. Just have to keep on keeping on. :-) Report
I'm sorry, but 5% is a truly lousy percentage. Not very encouraging on a weight loss site!
saw his article and I have been part of a different group, I guess. But none the less lost weight. First I was getting around day to day as many people but eventually landed i the ER due to my out of control weight gain. Close to death as other medical problems I now enter a gym daily. Turned things around and still continue to move foreword.

Doctor would ask me, "How did you get around?". My only response at the time was, "like everyone else?!!". They then unleashed the news, you were 800lbs!!! The ladies that have a special place with me, Holly Barker (fitness model/my gym owner/competitor)
, Whitney (then manager of the gym), Amiee (then a trainer in the gym).

I am now 255lbs........

to be honest I never tracked anything until this past year. My Biggie is I enjoyed myself. Why does one play the sport, or hobbies......its not because they have to, it that they enjoy it.

Saving this for future inspiration & motivation, for the days when it seems better to quit. Thanks for sharing. Report
I am glad that keeping the weight off is being addressed, this article doesn't tell you much.
I weighed 335 ,on Jan. 1, 2010. I lost to my desired weight of 145 in 18 months. then the real struggle began. Do I continue to exercise 3 hours a day? How do I adjust my food intake? Can I eat foods that I avoided or ate in a limited way? There were trials and errors. I found I had to maintain a plan of exercise, track what I ate. after a while I found a happy balance. But at times illness would throw me off track. I had to remember the horrors of being morbidly obese and the joy of feeling normal to get me through some hard days. those life long habits of eating what we want, of not feeling deprived are hard to completely give up. And what works for me, might not be what someone else needs. It's a day by day learning process. You really have to want the healthy, fit lifestyle more than that pizza or chocolate cake. You have to know why food plays such an important part in your life. It's all in the mind. Everyday for the rest of my life I will be aware of what I eat and how active I am. Plus I like to look good. I love to dress in nice fashionable clothes. at my present weight I can be that women.
I stopped wondering when i could start to eat normal again once the weight was lost. I realized that the way I ate now was the normal way.
So for me maintaining is being aware everyday of what I eat, what I weigh and how can i get in some form of exercise. Report


About The Author

Mike Kramer
Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.
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