You’ve probably had the experience. You step on the scale one day and can’t stand the number staring up at you. You set your mind on losing weight. You find motivation from somewhere–perhaps it was in the back of the closet–and drop enough weight that you need new clothes. People notice. It’s great.
But then, you take your eye off the ball. Maybe the holidays sabotage your eating or a rainy month interrupts your exercise. Pounds start to creep back on. Pretty soon those new clothes you bought don’t fit so well anymore.
At present, I’m not frustrated with having regained weight. I am a bit up from where I’d like to be, but I’m still holding steady in an acceptable range. Nevertheless, I have experienced that roller coaster regain enough that an article titled “Why Regaining Weight Is So Common and How to Deal” caught my eye.
Unfortunately, like so many of these articles seem to do, this one came in light on the promise of the headline. It does not explain in the least why regaining weight is common (unless you count the anecdote about a woman who moved to New York and ate a lot).
Instead, the closest thing to science comes in this paragraph. Read it and think it through.
But here’s some good news: A 2014 study of nearly 3,000 people who had lost (and kept off) a minimum of 30 pounds for at least a year found that 87 percent of participants maintained at least 10 percent of that weight loss over a decade.
So what this is saying is that if I lose 30 pounds and keep it off for a year, I have an 87% likelihood of keeping at least 3 of those pounds off after 10 years. That’s really the good news? In the past two years, I have lost 55 pounds. I’ve kept that amount off for well over a year now. If I’m only down 5.5 pounds in 9 years (or in other words, if I gain back 49.5 pounds of my loss, I’m going to be really irritated. No. That’s not good news.
Actually, I wasn’t entirely fair to this article. Buried in the fourth piece of advice for re-losing the weight that you re-gained, the author suggests that a key reason why we put the weight back on is a feeling of deprivation from a diet.
To keep from feeling deprived by a diet, we really need to adopt diets that we can maintain long-term. Over the past two years, my mother has repeatedly asked, “Can you eat that on your ‘program’?” I point out that I can eat anything on my ‘program.’ I eat pizza, tacos, cheese, ice cream, and anything else that I want. I just don’t eat too much of it. Now, in maintenance mode, I can go a little crazy two days a week and not hate myself on weigh-in day. That’s a sustainable diet.