Ever heard the term “yo-yo dieting”, and wondered why people go to such great efforts shedding that excess weight, only to pile it back on again over the next few months?
Is it possible to lose weight and keep it off?
Would you believe that sometimes losing weight is the easy part, and is only half the battle?
Sure dropping a few pants sizes is super hard work and involves a lot of discipline and willpower, but there’s a certain trap people fall into and that is – they take their hands off the wheel! As a simple mathematic equation, weight loss seems simple: food you eat, minus the exercise you do, equals either a calorie deficit or a calorie surplus.
The old adage of “eat less, move more” is only a partial truth, and completely unhelpful in most instances when we actually want to retain that body shape we’ve sacrificed so much to obtain. After all, not all calories are created equal. Not all fats are the same. There’s a big difference between a complex, slow-release carbohydrate and a simple sugar.
It’s true that in basic terms, creating a calorie deficit will result in weight loss – we’ll refer you back to that equation. But what comes next when you reach your target body weight?
As you age, your metabolic rate slows down. Likewise, there’s no way you’ll be able to punch out the same running miles in later life as you did when you were a spring chicken. There is an alarming statistic that states that two thirds of people who lose weight eventually put it back on, and that a third actually gain back more weight than they originally lost!
The secret lies in weight maintenance habits – arguably more important than achieving a calorie deficit and dropping the weight in the first place. Your relationship with food dictates your future.
Now there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and then, and sure, going back to that equation, you can absolutely burn off insanely high calorie junk food – technically there is no net gain or loss in body weight if it all cancels out. But this is a slippery slope, and the willpower you’ve gained by taking control of your diet will quickly be eroded. It’s altogether easier to do a hard thing for a short time than to do a hard thing forever.
The way to keep that weight off is to develop eating habits that are manageable, that don’t make you miserable, and that you can keep up long-term. People gain weight back when a phenomenon occurs where they slowly begin to allow themselves to indulge in comfort foods they previously denied themselves, without having a check in place to prevent their eating habits regressing back to where they were before.
The people who keep the weight off realise that although it’s fine to have a treat every now and then, so long as they keep up their levels of physical activity. The research shows that focusing on the drivers behind the initial weight loss also helps keep things in perspective. Whether it’s a self-esteem boost, a medical condition, or any other goal, keeping your eyes on the prize will make saying no to that 3 a.m. burger all the easier.
There’s no particular best diet, exercise regime, or reason for losing weight. Your success will stem from what you’re able to manage and keep up for the long term – it’s a marathon, not a sprint!