Successful Weight Loss: What Actually Works?

“Successful long-term weight loss maintenance can be achieved by various means.”

I totally agree, but actually, those aren’t my words.

It’s the intro statement I’m borrowing from an informative weight loss journal article from 2010.

Notice, when the authors wrote “…by various means”, they (Dr. Samuel Grief & Dr. Rosita Miranda) didn’t mention commercial weight loss pills or fad diets.

This weight loss article titled, Weight Loss Maintenance,  sheds light on several strategies that actually  work to lose weight.

Because you don’t have to be an obesity researcher to know that losing the weight is the easy part; keeping it off though, that’s the challenge.

obesity epidemic england

So, what actually works to lose weight long-term?  That’s the question.

Unfortunately, most people are trying to find the answers on TV and the internet.  It’s mindblowing that nutritionists and experts are not the ones people are seeking for answers.

It seems that people just want to be suckered into buying shit they don’t need.

Or they like the feeling of buying products that promise to burn the fat right off.

At a recent Primal Platoon Wellness & Weightloss seminar, my session ended with this very list.  This is the list of the “things” that work for successful long-term weight loss.

This list isn’t just based on the findings from the article I mentioned above.

The data is based on findings from thousands of people, collected by researchers from several studies (to include the National Weight Control Registry).  By the way, the findings are also consistent with my academic research as recent as 2015.

But enough about the sources.  Here’s what actually works, along with a quick explanation:


1. Consulting with a physician, nutritionist, or another support source

This one’s a no-brainer since you can probably relate.  If we had a physician at our disposal, one that actually cared or knew what they were talking about regarding weightloss, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Same thing goes for a nutritionist.  Most  nutritionists are part of a medical team.  Unless you hire a private/independent nutritionist, you’re pretty much left to fend for yourself.

Actually, you probably have what most Americans have if we can’t afford to consult with a specialist, Oprah and Dr. Oz.

What smart people on a budget actually do, however, is research.  They research dieting methods that work, not from salespeople and marketers, but from academic research, medical doctors, and dietitians.

If you’re going to do your own research, make sure that the sites you visit have a .gov or .edu at the end, meaning it’s from a government or academic institution. 

If the website isn’t from a government or academic institution, at least make sure that its author is credible, educated, and has the appropriate credentials.

2. Adhering to a stable diet with a limited variety of food;

Notice the word, “limited”.  The conventional advice of “eat everything in moderation” is insane.  

The advice isn’t only useless but it sets us up for failure since it doesn’t take into account the human element.

Let me be clear.  Everything in moderation is a great concept….but only if we’re talking about real, whole organic and natural foods.

Throw in processed foods, which makes up over 65% of any grocery store……and we’re totally screwed.  Our health, our waistline, our medical bills.

Adhering to a stable diet with a limited variety of food simply means this:  Give yourself some ground rules when eating.

You don’t have to change your religion or eliminate entire food groups.  But, you do need to set some boundaries.

For example, for me, I personally don’t bring home junk or ultra-processed foods.  I keep that shit outside of my home.

Yes, I eat out at popular restaurants, and I indulge in the occasional cannoli and cheesecake.  But….I don’t bring foods (that are easy to overeat) home.


3. Monitoring weight

If you don’t measure progress, you’ll never know if it’s being made.  Same thing goes for your weight.

Sometimes I can’t believe the amount of overweight people who tell me that they don’t know their weight.  That’s easy to understand.  Who wants to be reminded of bad news?

Well, if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never get anywhere.  And living in denial is great…..Until your doctor diagnoses you with diabetes…or something much worse.

So, start weighing yourself, at least on a weekly basis.

Some people have seen success with daily weigh-ins, but if that freaks you out, definitely, do at least once a week.



4. Eating breakfast

You ever skip breakfast?  We all have.  The problem is, whenever it’s lunchtime, we eat enough to hibernate all winter.  That’s the logic here, and that’s why most health experts discourage skipping breakfast.

But what about intermittent fasting?  Dieting gurus like Mike Sisson and Dr. Mercola speak highly of skipping breakfast (or a meal during the day).  Actually, they highly encourage it.

Time out!

As you can see, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused with all this dieting advice, especially when it’s contradictory.

So, what’s the advice here?  Do you eat breakfast or don’t you?  What’s your advice, John Rivera?

Personally, I skip breakfast most of the time.  It’s actually a dietary strategy of mine.

What about overeating at lunchtime?  What about what the health experts say?  Well, you are the expert of You.

The trick with intermittent fasting (as a dietary strategy) is that, come lunchtime,  you eat a regular size lunch.  Get it?

Basically, you skip breakfast and “break the fast” with a regular size meal…Preferably one that you prepped already, not something from the fast-food drive-thru.

So, whether you eat breakfast regularly or decide to incorporate fasting as a dietary strategy, do it right.



5.  Exercising regularly

And finally, exercising.  But wait!  Before you accuse me of being Captain Obvious, read on.  This isn’t your conventional fitness advice.

First of all, I don’t have to sell you on exercising.  You already know the physical and mental benefits of exercise.  But, who the hell’s got the time?

What I’ll say is this:  It might be a lost cause to manage going to the gym for an hour a day, several days a week.  But, YOU DONT HAVE TO QUIT ON FITNESS.

I know you can manage a couple of minutes a day.  Minutes.  Yes.  Exercises that that you can do at home in less than 5 minutes.  It’s a win…for your waistline.

Check out my microworkouts post.  It has more info on short exercises that even your grandma can do in just minutes a day.


About the Author


John Rivera, M.Ed. has over 20 years of experience in the nutrition & fitness field. He has helped service members, their families, and community members with their nutrition & fitness goals. He’s a corporate wellness trainer and Founder of the Primal Platoon Wellness System.  His writings have appeared on several web sites to include and From consulting on muscle building, to public health advocacy on, John’s expertise offers a unique perspective missing in today’s health & wellness industry.  TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HIS WELLNESS & WEIGHT LOSS WORKSHOPS, click here.


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