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TOPIC: why do 95%of people put weight back on, ugh

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February 16, 2013 1:28 PM
I can only answer as to why every other time I put on all the weight I lost in the past.

1) I saw myself as being "on a diet" - A diet implies it has a start and an end date. A diet is unsustainable. A diet is restrictive and full of "no" foods that you have to avoid (and if you eat them that implies you've cheated on your diet). A diet is something you don't have to worry about once you've reached goal and you can go back to eating normally once the diet it finished. This time around I actually see myself "changing my life and my lifestyle" - the changes I have made are sustainable because they are really no effort at all. They have become my go-to solution. There are no "no" foods on mfp. I can have whatever I want to eat, as long as I can fit it in to my day or I work it off.

2) Exercise used to be done so I could eat more, not to be healthy or fit - When I was doing weight watchers, they always told us we could "cheat" and get 2 more points to eat by doing 30 minutes of exercise. Almost every week we were told we could use those 2 points for the naughty foods we'd been avoiding on our diet (see point 1). Once I gave up on my diet, I gave up on exercise because there was no more point as I was no longer restricting myself. Vicious cycle. This time around, exercise has become a part of my daily activities. I see exercise as keeping me healthy, helping my mental health, stress-relief, time-filler (as opposed to eating to fill time), body sculpting (in terms of strength training) and just damned good fun. If I don't do exercise on any given day, I get antsy, I get fidgety, I get stressed. I am still shocked every day about this change in my relationship to moving my body. I don't see exercise as a way to eat more food, I eat food to fuel my exercise now.

3) Pre-packaged/pre-prepared food does not teach you how to eat healthily - Things like Lite n Easy, Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers frozen meals, etc...anything that delivers the exact quantities they say you need to eat and you don't have to actually choose anything or cook anything...that doesn't teach you how to eat healthily after you stop buying their food because you've never had to choose the size of your bread roll, the amount of pasta, the weight of your protein, the amount of sauce, etc. You've only ever been told "eat this and you will lose weight". You've learned nothing. The exact same thing goes for shake diets or meal replacement diets.

4) Magic formulas don't teach you about nutrition - Weight watchers points, SureSlim's no carbs, protein:vegetables ratios, shakes, VLCD, etc - they don't teach you about the food you're putting in your mouth - WW has some magic formula that works out your food - you can't tell by just looking at the packet how good or bad it is for you - you need to use their points book, or their points calculator...basically you never really know what's going in your mouth without them. SureSlim - You're not allowed to eat carbs at all (why not? Why am I allowed to eat THESE carbs, but not THOSE carbs? Why am I allowed to eat THESE vegetables, but not THOSE vegetables - oh...that's right...because it's not on your highly restrictive allowable foods list - and there is practically NOTHING on those lists - and why am I not allowed to eat outside of every 5 hours?). Add to it WW's "free foods" doesn't make any sense because food is's still going in your's still going to have an impact on your body. MFP and calorie counting is easy and highly accessible. I understand calories in vs calories out. The information is readily found on every packet or easily found out (in the case of fresh fruit and veg). There is nothing hidden. It's all out there in the open. It totally makes sense.

These are the things that come to my mind. This is the first time that I've maintained losing weight for so long (nearly 12 months) - all the other times I've tried I've lasted a couple of months or even just a couple of weeks before I couldn't stick it out any longer. I don't feel restricted. I eat what I want when I want it. I now understand what food does to my body - I understand that sodium can cause a temporary blip on the scales (When I was on WW - NONE of this was explained to me. I have a very vivid memory of being called out by the leader for putting ON weight that week, despite following their points plan exactly). I understand that eating too little is bad for me in the long run. I understand that food = fuel, and not a means to satisfy my urges. I feel in control of my life for the first time. I have support for the first time. I understand caloric deficits and the amount I have to eat to maintain (and the amount I have to eat to gain) for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. With everything that I have learned on MFP, there is no way I can put weight on. I have completely changed my life.
February 16, 2013 1:31 PM
I was about 200lbs and got down to 143 now I am going back up I am currently at 155. I don't know what to do to go back down I keep eating salads and am gaining.
February 16, 2013 1:34 PM
Eat more calories than you burn, gain weight. Seems simple enough unless I am missing something.
February 16, 2013 1:55 PM
95% is not an accurate number and spreading this false statistic is dangerous for people. Small seeds planted grow trees of doubt or something.

Anyways, HUGE LIE. Don't believe it or perpetuate it, it only hurts yourself and others.
February 16, 2013 1:58 PM
I gained again after losing because I stopped working out, and I started eating more / unhealthy
February 16, 2013 1:59 PM
Because they go n stupid, very calorically restricted diets, lose weight in the form of both fat and muscle mass, thus once they started eating normally their TDEE has been drastically lowered - due to lack of LBM, so they regain all their weight and more.

Basically, people end up getting fatter and less-muscled than when they started. It's kind of hilarious when you think about it.
February 16, 2013 2:41 PM

why do 95% of people put weight back on, ugh

This is the most significant question that can be asked on this web site. I don't have "the answer" but I have some thoughts.

Losing weight is hard, and few will do it with significant success. Keeping it off is harder and fewer still will achieve that.

But though many have failed, many have also succeeded. Our job is to learn from them. More on that later.

Though I've had some success using calorie budgeting, I don't consider myself a true success story yet because I haven't reached five years of maintenance (only a year and a half so far). I've lost weight a number of times in the past only to regain it and so I don't trust what I've achieved by this point.

Maybe repeated failure is the only way to learn... for me it was. Hopefully the statistic you quote is an alarm bell for everyone in the fat countries. Maybe we can learn from the failures of others and not just our own.

I think a lot of people re-gain their weight after successful loss because they do not know the strength of their enemy. If you've been significantly overweight, obesity stalks you like booze stalks an alcoholic, and everywhere Everywhere EVERYWHERE food is crouching to pounce into your mouth.

One of the things that haunts me is the fact that maintaining a healthy weight is not really central to the meaning of life, and so its significance can be, over time, something to dismiss. By this I mean once you've been obese and then through tremendous daily or even hourly meticulous effort have lost a significant amount of weight, fought off the tsunami of food, learned to incorporate exercise, gotten the attaboys and celebrated your success for a while, you may keep at it for another few months or so and then realize that...

HEY! This business is requiring a GREAT DEAL of attention and effort and WHAT IS THE POINT? You may start asking questions like.. Can't I focus on OTHER THINGS now? Aren't there more significant issues in life? Am I continuing to do this because I've developed an UNHEALTHY OBSESSION with heath and fitness? Am I being too VAIN and SELF-CENTERED? And what about the other people around me? ... they don't seem to be having too many problems in life... sure they're a bit paunchy but they're having a grand old time at barbeque cookouts, beer pong, pizza buffets, etc. Plus my friends and family are all dogging me for not joining in the party full-tilt. Aren't I allowed to have ANY FUN with eating? Is this going to be a nagging responsibility the REST OF MY %#$&@ LIFE?

Honestly I can't recall if these are the thoughts that caused me to backslide in the past. Most of the problem I'm sure is just the nature of what we unconsciously accept as "normal" ... if eating a lot and being inactive has been the norm most of your life it will take a permanent revolution, not just a year of weight loss effort, to avoid slipping back to the old ways.

New norms are hard. Some people say it takes 30 days to break and old, or establish a new, habit. But significant weight loss for someone who's norm is obesity is more than that -- it is truly at least a dozen new habits and the crucifixion of at least a dozen bad ones. My judgement is that food-related habits are harder to break and establish than other kinds (for example, nail-biting), because food is more deeply ingrained our biology, emotions, cultures, families, etc. And in addition to new things to do and old things not to do, there is a lot to learn -- which is also outside of many folks' comfort zones.

And then -- after the weight loss -- comes the maintenance, which in my opinion requires continuing to learn new stuff and the creation of even more new habits.

Basically it's a war. It's a war to lose it and it's an on-going war to keep it off. Hopefully that's not too depressing.

On the bright side, there IS something called the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), which is an on-going database of people who have lost weight and kept it off, and some studies have been done to determine what makes them successful.

See these site for articles about findings from the NWCR:

All the best!
February 16, 2013 2:55 PM
nehushtan, I think you've really explained it well. Thank you.
February 16, 2013 2:56 PM

95% is not an accurate number and spreading this false statistic is dangerous for people. Small seeds planted grow trees of doubt or something.

You're right....

The actual statistic is hard to come by because it's hard to determine the boundaries of what the question means and to get good data to answer it. So there will be different studies & results out there based on how the question is framed (e.g., how much weight is considered weight loss, how much time after the weight loss do we check back on the participants, etc) and how much data can be reliably captured (do we rely on self-reporting, have people check in to be weighed, do a control-group vs. test group, etc).

... but it almost doesn't matter. However you slice it, there is still a large chunk of those who've lost it who will regain it.

So it's bad news anyway.
February 16, 2013 3:08 PM

95% is not an accurate number and spreading this false statistic is dangerous for people. Small seeds planted grow trees of doubt or something.

Anyways, HUGE LIE. Don't believe it or perpetuate it, it only hurts yourself and others.
It's actually closer to 90%. But that's still way over the majority.

A.C.E. Certified Personal/Group FitnessTrainer
IDEA Fitness member
Kickboxing Certified Instructor
Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition
February 16, 2013 3:21 PM
They haven't learned to live a new lifestyle. I have maintained my loss for more than 6 months and I STILL count my calories, exercise everyday, and live a new healthy lifestyle.I have all new clothes size 28 down to 8 and am NEVER" going back". It is just as hard today as it was the day I "started my diet". I want to be fit more than I want to satisfy my food addiction. A choice. There is a group called The National Weight Control Registry and they have been tracking successful weight loss cases and have information as to what those who have been successful are doing.
February 16, 2013 3:25 PM
As a species we evolved to survive in spite of extreme scarcity. Now we have an abundance of foods, even if those of us who are poorer don't have an abundance of healthy choices all the time.

Therefore it takes effort to maintain weight loss for many people because we are fighting biology. Just like it takes effort not to pick up the nearest stick and club rude people over the head with it.

But it's worth it. It's worth the effort to be thin and also not be in jail for assault. laugh
February 16, 2013 3:27 PM
Is that the real statistic? 95%? It seems kind of high. I know putting weight back on is a risk but I don't know if it's the norm. By the time you lose lots of weight I don't think you have to eat exactly diet style. I think you can eat healthier than you were but following your urges and be okay. If you had healthy habits to begin with and only gained weight as the result of some real reason then you should be able to keep it off. If you had terrible eating habits, you might not be able to go back to that kind of eating, but you should be able to relax a little from diet mode and just feel comfortable and okay with your eating style and weight maintenance. I'd just hate for you to be discouraged thinking weight loss mode is something you will have to do forever because it's not always the case. Why don't you have high hopes lose all the weight and then see if it's easier for you to maintain than you predict.
February 16, 2013 3:49 PM

nehushtan, I think you've really explained it well. Thank you.

Agree! & I liked your reply too phoenixgirl. TY both.
February 16, 2013 4:00 PM
For me, I found it fairly easy to maintain when my life was relatively the same as during the weight loss period. I leaned an important lesson. When life changes, I need to monitor. Since we are a military family, this means transition will come again. Changes doesn't just apply to moving though.
Edited by kcoftx On February 16, 2013 4:05 PM
February 16, 2013 4:10 PM
I think it has a lot to do with your mind. We change our bodies but we really have to
change our mind set as well. I sometimes think that can be the hardest.
Edited by irishblonde2011 On February 16, 2013 4:11 PM
February 17, 2013 12:31 AM

Because the body wants very badly to return to the higher weight and does everything it can to get there. Increased hunger signals, hormonal changes, lowered resting metabolism, you name it. Leptin, ghrelin, peptide YY all increase to levels that are actually higher than they were before you lost the weight (so appetite is even greater and metabolism is even slower than when you were fat). Until science comes up with some kind of pill to counteract these things, maintaining weight loss will be a daily struggle and very few people can keep up the fight forever.

I just wish the body tended toward a healthier weight and did things like increase metabolism and decrease appetite if the weight strayed too high. Why does it want to kill itself with obesity? It makes no sense, really.

It's strange, isn't it? I maintained my low, healthy weight for many years by just eating what I liked. My weight stayed with in a few pounds. Then for some reason, the system seemed to reset itself at almost double my original weight. And yet I maintained that higher weight within a few pounds without having to think about it. It would be interesting to know what exactly causes this "reset" and change in hormone levels, and how long it persists after losing weight. I have read that people tend to be successful if they can maintain for five years, so maybe that's the point when the body starts to accept the lower weight?
February 17, 2013 12:36 AM
i regained because of depression, stress, and injury. i know i can lose it again because the depression and injury have healed and the stress in under control.
February 17, 2013 12:42 AM
Fad diets I think. Lifestyle change is key. Maybe also lack of support for some people contributed to it!
February 17, 2013 12:51 AM
near 100% of the people who have been overweight got themselves into that situation through eating more calories than they burn. Nearly everybody eats/drinks to excess some times in their life. Those who do not get overweight either keep close tabs on their weight and make conscious decisions to regulate their intake to compensate for indulgent times, others do this more subconsciously.

Those who have been overweight typically have not made such choices, whilst they lose weight they are making healthy decisions and tight control on their intake and exercise. A lot of people do not want to have thoughts about such control near the forefront of their day to day life, as such they put weight back on.
February 17, 2013 12:57 AM
Apparently all the people who maintained their goal weight did so by never slipping back into bad habits. They remained strict, focussed, and accepted that their eating habits and attitudes remained forever changed. The regimes they adopted to lose weight became their 'normal eating patterns' to be maintained for life.
February 17, 2013 12:57 AM
actually i watched a documentary on hbo by the leading expert researchers in weight loss/ weight gain and obesity. They said once you are overweight your body is like broken and can never burn calories as efficiently as it did. they further went on to say that their research indicates that if you were ever overweight you should eat 400 calories less than what your BMR says should be your daily calorie intake (for ex. BMR of 2000 calories, then you should only eat 1600 calories). basically you have to eat 400 calories less than a normal person because your metabolism actually gets permenantly slower because you were overweight. they said people regain the weight because their body still has a hunger drive that makes them want to eat the full 2000 calories. so they said you need to be conscientous and make sure not to eat those extra 400 calories or you will gradually regain the weight. i'm basing my maintenance plan on this. will either exercise it off of not eat it. i never want to regain the weight i've lost. so i hope this helps prevent it. it's amazing that after all our hard work that it can be regained so easily. the media should talk about this more. the researchers where impressive you should watch it if you can.
Edited by lsk141 On February 17, 2013 1:03 AM
February 17, 2013 1:03 AM
I got lazy with exercise and started emotionally binge eating again.

Gotta get your head straight if you wanna keep it off for good!!
February 17, 2013 1:07 AM
For me in 2012 I did a fad diet lost 7lbs in one month but then made serious lifestyle changes and in 6 months I'd lost a total of 10 lbs.

Then I gained all of it back because I went to visit my folks which always means weight gain and my grandma passed away which just meant comfort food. Couldn't get back on track after the holiday as I had a sever iron deficiency.

Jan 2013 started at the same weight as Jan 2012 very depressing but now back to my exercise routine which I love and eat in moderation but never starve myself and I'm slimer now than I was in June of last year. I got here quicker but I still have a ways to go, my BMI is still overweight and I don't have muscle mass to show for it.

You can do it!!
February 17, 2013 1:21 AM
People who go on a "diet" instead of actually changing their lifestyle will inevitably put the weight back on when they stop dieting. Keeping the weight off should fundamentally be a life long endeavour.
Edited by BonaFideUK On February 17, 2013 1:21 AM


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