I had a potential client ask me a question on twitter last week that has been on my mind ever since. She said she planned to follow my carb cycling program for the six weeks of the program, but stop once it ended and wanted to know if she'd gain weight back again. Well, probably. (I'm assuming she meant she'd be going back to exactly how she was eating before.)
So many of my clients have the mistaken belief that they can 'diet down' to their goal weight and then *poof* they can go back to eating as they did before and maintain their weight loss. I wish that was the case!
The depressing reality is that about 80% of people who lose weight will regain all of it, or more, within two years.
Research is very inconclusive about the exact percentage. I've seen some studies say 50% regain the weight, and others say 90%. So, I think it's safe to say the majority will regain the weight they lost. Whatever the number it's a depressing statistic.
[Tweet "80% of people who lose weight will regain all of it, or more, within two years. Don't be one of those people!"]
Biologically there are some changes that happen to you when you drop a lot of weight that makes it harder to continue losing weight, and maintain the weight loss. Your metabolism adjusts and your brain chemistry starts messing with your hunger signals. Psychologically, you start to feel a bit defeated when the scale stops moving.
I think one of the biggest reasons why people regain the weight is because they look at dieting as a temporary situation instead of a permanent lifestyle change. Most people can stick to any diet for 4-6 weeks. They'll stick with egg whites for breakfast instead of their favorite cereal and be okay with abstaining from wine for a few weeks.
Then, the novelty wears off and their willpower is depleted. Willpower is a muscle just like your biceps. If you constantly flex it you will eventually fatigue it and you won't be able to use it temporarily. That's when the binges start. Or the 'all or nothing' thinking (I ate too much crap food today I might as well just throw in the towel.)
I lost 50+ pounds in my mid twenties and have kept it off for 8 years. I gained 40 pounds while pregnant and lost it all by 9 months postpartum. Why was I different? What did I do that made me keep the weight off?
I made a permanent mindset shift. I took two years to lose the weight. I made small changes that added up to big results without totally overwhelming me. Here's the general shifts I made in order:
- Gave up fast food, candy, and drinking anything with calories
- A few months later, after already losing 10-15 pounds, I started going to the gym 3x a week to just use the machines to strength train
- A few months later I started going to the gym 5x a week and adding in cardio
- A few years later I started
- A year after my first 5k I ran my first marathon
- A few years ago I got into really clean eating. Limiting all processed foods. Focusing on vegetables.
- Recently I tried carb cycling and I was able to lose the last 5 pounds of baby weight with it.
I didn't do it all over night. I never even thought of myself as being on a 'diet.' I was just eating healthier and exercising. There was no end date in sight for when I would stop. This was my life, forever.
Are there days where I eat nothing but sugar and carbs? Yes. It's okay. That's life.
Are there days when I don't want to exercise? At least once a week. On those days I'll go for a walk with my son. That's exercise and so much fun!
I hate when I hear of women really struggling to lose weight, or keep the weight off. No one should spend their lives hating themselves or how they look. Food shouldn't be looked at as an enemy. Exercise shouldn't be viewed as a punishment. Nutritious food and regular movement will help lower your stress, increase your happiness, and add years to your life.
You can have all that and still enjoy your occasional cupcakes and regular glass of wine too. Isn't life grand?
If you feel like you are stuck in this mindset and want help losing weight for good please feel free to reach out to me! I will be holding just one more bootcamp this year starting on August 22nd and I already have women registered for it. If you'd like more info just email me at Erica@EricaDHouse.com.