Research: Self-monitoring helps weight loss maintenance

Research wordResearch word

Self-monitoring behavior added to physical activity build compliance and improved weight loss maintenance.

Athlete fit woman exercising.
Athlete fit woman exercising.

Anything we can do to help increase weight loss success would be welcome news to many dieters. One they lose weight, most will drift back to the unhealthy lifestyles that many of us are trying to avoid. We all tend to return to the bad habits that got us in trouble to start with because humans are creatures of habit.

A 2019 research study looked at this very question by trying to build continue weight loss success into the maintenance phase though exercise and self-monitoring​[1]​. The idea is that mindfulness built through self-monitoring would reduce weight regain. The researchers used gaps in self-monitoring during weight-loss interventions to identify individuals demonstrating signs of disengagement from the behaviors that should keep the weight off.

This study examined the associations of different aspects of self-monitoring during a weight loss intervention with a 24-month program of moderate to vigorous physical activity and self-weighing.  The trial compared weight-tracking frequency during a weight loss program, was conducted. Self-monitoring logs from nearly 350 subjects were were characterized by overall gap length in which they fell off the wagon and did nto record weight or exercise.

The researchers found that participants with gaps in self-monitoring as early as the second week of the intervention reported less exercise and weighed more at 24 months. Also, consistent tracking of one’s exercise was associated with higher reported exercise and lower weight at the end of the study. 

The bottom line: Behavior tracking provides important information about behavioral disengagement. The earlier the disengagement occurs in the intervention process, the lower the level of successful weight maintenance attained by the subject of this study. Future work should test intervention augmentations to improve behavior change when disengagement is detected. I would recommend exercise and self-moniotoring for all dieters.


  1. [1]
    K. L. Gavin, N. E. Sherwood, J. Wolfson, M. A. Pereira, and J. A. Linde, “Characterizing Self-Monitoring Behavior and Its Association With Physical Activity and Weight Loss Maintenance,” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, p. 155982761879055, Jul. 2018 [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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