We hear the stories everyday. Stories of weight loss and how it was achieved. The part of the story we don't usually here is that, for most people, keeping the weight off long-term is near impossible. Depending on your definition of "long-term" weight loss, only 3-28% of people manage to pull it off. After a year or two, the majority of people have regained what they lost. It may be easy to think that the people who regained the weight have returned to bad habits and are avoiding personal responsibility. But the fact is, that is not the case. That type of thinking just applies a stigma to weight, which helps no one! There has been a dramatic rise in obesity over the last 40 years and if weight gain could be linked to a personality trait or laziness, it wouldn't have boomed the way it has -- it would have remained steady throughout history. There are obviously other things happening. After a weight loss of 10% or more, the body develops ways to 'defend' that heavier weight. These biological shifts support weight regain. The hormone that makes you feel hungry, called ghrelin, actually increases after a dramatic weight loss while leptin, the hormone that makes you feel satisfied, takes a nose dive. Another thing that happens after weight loss is that your metabolism becomes much more efficient and you burn fewer calories both at rest and during exercise. As a species, humans have evolved to survive famine and scarcity. The problem is, the majority of us do not live in a famished world. Calories are cheap and they are VERY accessible. We are constantly surrounded by cues to eat unhealthy foods. People only have so much willpower. With these factors stacking against us, how are obese people ever expected to lose weight and keep it off? Here are some tips for lasting weight loss from Stacey C. Cahn, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM).
- Log what you eat. Doing this will help you make better food choices and eat less. If you don't want to be carrying around paper all day, try taking a picture of everything you eat with your smartphone. Keeping yourself accountable is the key.
- Consider joining a weight loss program, one with frequent, person to person contact.
- Limit added sugars, processed foods and artificial sweeteners whenever possible. They can be addictive and negatively impact your gut bacteria. For a healthy meal plan comprised of whole, real foods, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan!
- Exercise regularly and frequently. Doing so can help to offset the changes in metabolism that come with weight loss. Think about strength training. Building muscle is great for the metabolism and the more of it you have, the more calories you will burn. For over 80 hours of on demand workouts, check out SweatFlix℠!