Why Lasting Weight Loss Is So Hard

Losing weight is hard work, but keeping the weight off is even harder.

Take Claudia Hallblom of the Los Angeles area. By her own estimation, she has lost and regained about 1,000 pounds in her 39 years.

While many of us may not go up and down by 1,000 pounds, the gain/loss cycle one that is all-too-common.

But why?

Like many of us, Claudia's success at weight loss was generally motivated by a specific goal - a wedding, a graduation or other event.

To lose the weight, Claudia would get focused and go on a strict diet - counting calories and closely watching what she ate. Her dieting usually met with success, but after reaching her goal and passing the event, the weight would just come back on.

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According to Claudia. "I didn't know how to lose weight and keep it off."


In this article, we will fill you in on the two best tools to help keep the weight off, but first, let's have a look at why this is so hard.

When you lose weight, two changes take place that work against your new, thinner self. First, your lighter body needs fewer calories to maintain itself. Second, your cravings for food become more intense.

Research shows that when you lose weight, you need about eight fewer calories per day for each pound of weight that was lost. That means someone who loses 40 pounds will require about 320 calories fewer each day than they did before the weight loss.

A change like that is significant and requires a corresponding permanent change in what you eat. Not just while you are losing the weight, but for the rest of your life.

Also working against you after losing weight is your appetite. Weight loss brings about a change in hormones that leave you feeling hungrier.

Studies also show that, after a weight loss, levels of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin are lower than what they used to be. Similarly, the levels of ghrelin, another hormone which stimulates food intake, rise after weight loss.

Keeping the weight off is therefore a battle of the mind against your hormones and metabolism - both of which want to put the weight back on.

According to Paul MacLean, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver, "The big problem is keeping it off. The recent estimates are that only 5% to 10% of people are successful at keeping weight off on a long-term basis."

Dr. Ken Fujioka, director of nutrition and metabolic research at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego adds: "You lose 10% of your body weight. All of a sudden all these systems kick in to try to keep you from losing weight. People are mad at themselves or depressed after they regain the weight. But I explain: It's not you. Biology has kicked in now.... You are hungry all the time. You think about food all the time."

Discouraging, to say the least!


However, the good news is that there are two tools which can help you overcome the problem of weight re-gain.

First - and no surprise to most of you - is exercise. Exercise buffers the body against regaining weight, in ways that researchers of the physical body are just starting to comprehend. "Everyone thinks exercise is about burning calories," Dr. Fujioka says. "But you are actually returning the system to more like what it should be."

Second - and a much easier way - is the re-training of old habits through therapies developed by decades of research of the mind and its influence on the physical body. Leading research psychologist Dr. Patrick Porter says "The most powerful force within our bodies resides in our minds. This has been the source of all great achievement throughout mankind and is the single most effective tool to support lasting weight loss."

So, the next time you work on losing your way up to 1,000 pounds, remember that it doesn't have to be so.


In fact, you may want to set your goal to join the National Weight Control Registry - an honor roll of those who lose 30+ pounds and keep it off for at least one year.

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