When it comes to losing weight often the biggest fear my clients have is that they will regain the weight they lost.
And if you look at studies done on the topic, anywhere from 50% to 95% of people that lose weight gain it back within a year!
Those numbers vary so much because there are many different types of studies and the methods are flawed. One large study that looked at several others (meta-analysis) determined that dieters had regained 50% of the weight lost after 1 year. (1)
Another meta-analysis looked at multiple studies over a 5 year period. They found that there was an average of 3 kg (6.6 lbs) of maintained weight loss in obese people. And interestingly, people who initially lost more than 20 kg maintained their weight loss better with an average of 7 kg of maintained weight loss (15.4 lbs). (2)
Based on these and other studies the people that are most successful at maintaining their weight loss engage in physical activity consistently, weigh themselves regularly, and eat fewer calories. (3)
You may have noticed from these studies that the amount of weight that is lost is not the huge numbers we hear about with fad diets.
Sometimes our expectations of massive weight loss and suddenly becoming a super thin person when we have not been that way ever, are setting us up for disappointment.
The main goal when trying to lose weight is not about the pounds lost, it is about improving your health and helping your metabolism to work better.
And yet, the reality is that most people do regain all or at least part of the weight they lose.
How do we prevent this from happening???
As noted above, the people that are most successful at maintaining their weight are those that engage in regular physical activity, weigh themselves consistently, and eat fewer calories. DUH!
This stuff is not rocket science and yet so many people struggle.
My take on it is this: we have to keep up the mindset or we will slip back into old habits. If your mind and heart are not in it, you will eventually give up trying. That is just how we humans are.
Let’s stop trying to fight human nature and do the opposite.
Let’s work WITH our nature.
So what can you do?
There are three ways to avoid weight regain.
- Stay motivated
- Weigh yourself regularly
- Stay motivated
Sorry, I just had to do it.
It really does all come down to how motivated you are.
Think about it, if I told you I was going to shoot you if you ate a cookie would you eat it?
Of course not. At that point you are HIGHLY motivated to avoid the cookie.
So your motivation is key to success in maintaining your weight (well actually in losing weight as well).
How do you stay motivated?
As you may know, that is a moving target.
We can wake up one day and be “in it to win it” and the next day not really care what happens.
Staying motivated is a discipline. It doesn’t just happen to you.
Weighing yourself at least once a week is key for keeping tabs on what is going on. It is one thing to “think” you are fine and you are maintaining and it is another to “know” where you are at.
Once you have lost the weight, getting on the scale regularly is imperative. DO NOT LET THIS ONE SLIP!
Since you have already lost the weight you should feel good about what you see on the scale. If you have lost a bunch of weight and you don’t feel good about what you see on the scale then perhaps there is some mindset work you need to do.
(We all have issues in this area, but if food or your weight are making you miserable or you have any addictive or destructive behavior in this area, this blog post is not for you. Rather you need to seek professional help right away.)
Assuming you have some mild issues with food but nothing that requires seeking out a mental health professional then getting on the scale after you have lost some weight should feel good.
So, keep doing it! Once a week is just fine.
Make sure you write it down so you can keep track over time (we humans tend to forget things easily too).
I also highly recommend that you determine your “breaking point”.
So let’s say you are happy at 150 pounds. You can make 155 your breaking point.
In other words, if you start to get near 154 you should begin to make some changes. If you reach 155, that’s it! Time to really reign things in and get back down to 150.
So, what do you do if you see the numbers inching up?
Here I go back to motivation.
I would bet $100 you know exactly why your weight is slowly increasing.
Maybe you went on vacation or you had a long weekend of eating too much and/or drinking alcohol. Or maybe you just haven’t felt like working out.
Whatever it is, jump on this fast! Don’t let it go up so much that now it becomes overwhelming (remember your “breaking point”).
Keeping tabs on your weight and not going past your breaking point are two ways you can actually keep up your motivation.
You have worked too hard to get down to your target weight to let it creep back up right?
Other key ways to keep up motivation include:
- Know your “whys” and keep updating them
- Create short- and long-term fitness goals
- Join a group of like-minded people that are either losing or maintaining their weight
- Periodically read articles about health
- Journal about what your ideal health vision looks like. This should feel really good when you write it
So, if you are currently in the process of losing weight, take heart, maintenance is way easier than losing. You can do this!!
If you are struggling to lose or maintain weight please feel free to hop on a complimentary strategy call with me.
- Curioni CC, Lourenço PM. Long-term weight loss after diet and exercise: a systematic review. Int J Obes (Lond). 2005;29(10):1168-1174. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803015
- James W Anderson, Elizabeth C Konz, Robert C Frederich, Constance L Wood, Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 74, Issue 5, November 2001, Pages 579–584, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/74.5.579
- Thomas JG, Bond DS, Phelan S, Hill JO, Wing RR. Weight-loss maintenance for 10 years in the National Weight Control Registry. Am J Prev Med. 2014;46(1):17-23. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2013.08.019