Raleigh, N.C. — Two years ago, Cindy Tyndall wasn't as devoted to exercise and eating healthy as she is today.
"It was probably a little after my 36th birthday, and I was about 60 pounds more than I am now," she said.
Tyndall fit the mold of the average American as seen in a Gallup survey of 1,000 men and women in the United States.
The survey shows the average weight for men is 196 pounds and 160 pounds for women — 20 pounds heavier than the same survey found in 1990.
Those results aren't a surprise to Rex Healthcare dietitian Ashley Honeycutt.
"People say they want to lose weight, but there (are) a lot of factors that play against them that they have a hard time working through," she said.
Diets are actually one factor that contributes to long-term weight gain, Honeycutt said.
"Diets are not the way to go. The way we teach is to make small changes," she said.
Tyndall had tried diets, counting calories and cutting out foods she loved. But this time, she chose Rex Wellness Center's Healthy Way program.
"It's a life change. It's not something that you do for five, six weeks or just two months," she said.
The 12-week group program includes counseling with a registered dietitian and encouragement to find physical activity.
Tyndall picked cycling. "I got so into it that I've done two bike races in the last couple of months," she said.
Regular exercise, on top of healthy food and proper portion sizes, has helped the pounds drop off and stay off for Tyndall.
"For the last year, my goal has been to maintain that," she said. "I have within five pounds, and I'm very pleased with that."
With the food-filled holidays coming up, dietitians don't advise that people try to lose weight until the New Year but instead focus on maintaining their weight.
Their big tip: Be careful with portion sizes. Eat all the beloved foods, but less of them.
Once beginning an effort to lose weight, consult a registered dietitian who can give advice on a healthy weight loss plan, and do it with a friend or a support group.