Have you gradually gained weight over the years? Or have you lost a significant amount of weight then gained it back quickly?
So, should you even bother to try and lose weight at all?
The answer is yes, if you are already having weight-related health problems or if you are putting on extra weight every year and are likely to have health problems in the future.
On the other hand, studies that have examined how much weight people are able to lose and how much they are able to keep off long term are fairly dismal. Most people gain weight back. Here is a pretty predictable formula for gaining weight in the long term:
- You lose weight quickly…
- You go back to your old way of eating when you lose weight…
- You continue to eat and exercise exactly as you have been as you get older…
- You eat the same way “everyone else” is…
- You make excuses for why it’s OK to eat when you shouldn’t…
Let me explain each of these scenarios:
- Losing weight quickly:
One of the best ways to gain weight quickly is to drastically cut your calories. Research shows that the faster people lose weight, the faster they tend to regain it.
- Going back to your old way of eating when you lose weight:
It’s plain biology. If you lose weight on 1200 calories a day, for example, and then your weight plateaus, you will start to gain weight back once you go up to 1300 calories a day. That’s the equivalent of one good sized apple or four crackers. And if you return to eating 2,000 or 3,000 calories, as perhaps you did before, of course your weight will increase.
- Continue to eat and exercise exactly as you have been as you get older:
It seems unfair, but it’s true. Metabolism tends to decrease with age. If you don’t start eating less and/or exercising more, you’ll gain weight. Now it’s reasonable to gain a little weight, especially if you’re eating in a healthy way, but those pounds can really add up as the decades go by.
- Eat in the same way you assume everyone else is:
It’s possible that you know the rare person who can consume a great number of calories a day and not gain weight. But it’s more likely that the people you know (especially if they’re over 40), are either restricting their eating in some way or are themselves gaining weight each year. In any case, it’s irrelevant. If you don’t want to gain weight, you’ll need to figure out what’s right for you to eat — which isn’t necessarily right for another person.
- Make excuses for why it’s okay to eat when you shouldn’t:
Your body processes calories in exactly the same way, regardless of circumstances. It doesn’t care if you’re stressed, tired, or celebrating; if it’s a special occasion; if no one is watching you eat; or if the food is free. It may be reasonable to plan in advance to eat a little more in some circumstances but understand that if you don’t compensate by exercising more or cutting an equivalent number of calories another time, you will gain weight.
It seems unfair. It’s so hard to lose weight and so easy to gain it back. But once you learn the thinking and cognitive behavioral skills you need, the process of losing and maintaining a weight loss (it’s the same process!) becomes much easier…
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Weight Loss works… so why not get started today by reading more here and signing up for a 6-week online programme? What have you got to lose… apart from some extra weight…?!