If you’re anything like me you’ve lost weight multiple times in your life. I’m privileged in that years ago I was able to break that cycle and have been in maintenance for years. As I write this post in November 2022, I’m currently on a cut, not because I was overweight, but because I have a procedure coming up that will keep me out of the gym for many weeks, and I want to have more of a maintenance cushion because I do expect my weight to go up a little.
Anyway, while losing the weight gets progressively harder with each diet… it’s keeping the weight off that really trips us up.
BUT WHY IS IT SO HARD TO KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF???
There are 2 big reasons I will focus on here. There are more reasons, a big one being mental and emotional, but that’s not where I’m going today, we’ll come back to that one day.
REASON 1 – WRONG FOCUS
Weight loss is where the money is. The marketing in our diet culture is geared towards the next best thing. The next best diet, the next supplement, the next pill, the next list of unicorn foods.
The promotion of fat loss speaks to a very present desire that many people have, and also to many insecurities we’ve developed in this diet culture that for so long has idolized slimness.
The downside is that these strategies are all short term. It’s what can I do RIGHT NOW… so that’s where the pill, the shake, the 21 day programs grab us. We get into these solutions because it’s much easier to commit to something short term than it is to think of something that we have to do long term.
The thing is… there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing that is damaged in you for thinking like this. This is human nature. It’s much easier to commit to something quick and fast then it is to think that this is something that you’re going to be doing for life.
REASON 2 – SUSTAINABILITY
The second big reason most weight loss fails is sustainability.
While these quick diets seem to be the answer to our problems, they fail because they are short term, and your life isn’t. This focus on the immediate creates diets that are too hard, too expensive or too restrictive. It’s not something you can keep up.
Having the wrong target and choosing something that’s not sustainable really are
2 huge reasons why diets fail.
It’s not because you’re damaged or broken or there’s something wrong with you. It’s not that if only you could follow the plan you’d do great. The big issue with these things is that it is a drastic short-term solution. It’s not paying any attention to life.
Having strict dietary needs interferes with people’s life in the long term. It means that every time they go visit a friend that friend has to know about their issues and cater to that. This means that every time they go to a restaurant they need to look at the menu and have a conversation see if it’s possible for them to eat there. It means that if they take a road trip they won’t necessarily be able to stop at any gas station and hop in and grab something to eat if they’re hungry. These kinds of restrictions do not make anybody’s life easier, they make some people healthier because they have a medical issue that needs that, but they don’t necessarily make people’s lives easier.
When you think about your life and you don’t HAVE to make these choices, if you are free to eat any food… do you really want to stop eating these lists of things or eat only that list of things for the rest of your life?
The thing that makes maintenance so difficult is that we are very very quick to commit to the shortcut. We are very quick to commit to what seems like the easiest thing to do when in reality after you reach your goal and you’ve lost the weight that you want to lose what do you do then? Nine out of 10 people go back to what how they lived before.
The weight comes back because unless you’re willing to do something for the rest of your life you’re not going to see the lasting results of whatever it is you were doing.
Health is something that we have to do every single day.
We consistently see in studies and with real life clients that these restrictive diets lead to obsessive behaviors, eating disorders, and a damaged relationship with food. In the end, people consume more of the forbidden than they would have consumed had they been in a balanced diet.
Excessive restriction tends to lead to higher consumption after you stop the restriction. In the end…
excessive restriction doesn’t ever end in balance.
HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER
To make maintenance easier it’s actually a very very simple thing – but I’ll tell you right now it’s NOT EASY, it’s simple.
You need to look at your ultimate goal… beyond weight loss, what do you want? From there, you need to create a plan that works based on the ultimate goal, not on the goal that’s in your face.
What are your non negotiable foods?
What are things in your life that matter most to you (family, friends, travel, etc)?
Are some of your eating habits coping mechanisms for something else in your life?
These and other questions begin to inform your ultimate goal, and then you can work on your weight loss plan.
The strategies you use to lose weight have to be thinking about maintenance because your body will reflect what you do with it and what you put into. When you are approaching a fat loss phase always think if your actions are something that you can support later.
Here’s a truth that most people don’t want to tell you: whatever you do to lose weight is what you’re going to have to do to keep it off.
Maintenance is hard because we make fat loss either too easy or too hard on ourselves. We either go the quick fix, or we go too hard and we can’t sustain that in the long run. A good maintenance starts with a good weight loss (or bulk if that’s your goal) strategy.
If you need help designing this strategy, I am here for you. Simply send me a message or fill out the form in this website so we can continue the conversation.
Below is a podcast episode where me and Shannon talk about why weight management is so hard.