How Did I Regain This Weight ... And Why Is It So Hard To Lose Again?
If you've lost weight at some point in your life there's a good chance you regained it. And if you regained it, there's also a very good chance you found it hard to lose it the second time ... or the third time.
You are not alone. You share this common situation with 90% of all dieters.
Now, you might feel like a failure. Or this statistic might make you feel like all hope is gone. But I'm here to tell you that's not the case at all. You just need to know how it happened and what to do now.
Let's start with why things get harder each time.
When we lose weight our energy expenditure drops. This is normal, and it is supposed to happen. A larger body uses more energy than a smaller body. It's the same as a large vehicle uses more gas than a small vehicle travelling the same distance. It's basic physics.
This new metabolic rate gets 'burned' into the brain. I won't go into the science of it, but it's a byproduct of our ancient survival times. It's something the brain does to help protect you. It's not known how long this lowered energy output sticks around, but it is a large number of years.
Now, let's say you regain the weight back. Usually we try the same things we did before, but they don't work.
This is because you still have the lowered metabolic rate. The first time you lost weight you may have had a calorie deficit of 500cals ... but the second time, the deficit may be 0cals.
Which leads us to the second reason
2) The Start-Stop Cycle
When we try to diet for the second time, and it doesn't work we begin a mental process I like to call The Start-Stop Cycle. You know what I'm talking about - it sounds like this:
"I'm not losing any weight, what's the point, I might as well go and eat this pizza anyway".
That's the stop part. It's followed by ...
"Maybe I need to try a different diet"
That's the start part. But again, your metabolism is still lowered, so if your calorie deficit isn't right then you still won't lose weight. What follows next is the stop part again right?
Now, you might get lucky and find a diet that 'works'. But at some point, you're going to put that weight on yet again if you don't maintain it properly. We'll get to that soon.
There's one more reason it's harder to lose weight as we repeat this diet cycle
3) The Mind
Once we've convinced ourselves that we are a failure and nothing works we form what is called a belief. This belief is created from our experience and is burned into our brain as a 'truth'. It's just like believing in god ... or santa. It's real, and it's true for you.
Once a belief becomes real and true, we see evidence of it everywhere! Let's face it, when we were kids we TOTALLY saw Santa. He was real and we saw it. We could write letters to him and we could meet him in the mall. We could even fool ourselves into "seeing" reindeer prints.
It sounds crazy, but that's what we do when we believe we are a failure. We start to see evidence of it, even when it doesn't exist. So you might have lost 500g (1lb) on a week of your 3rd diet, but because your brain 'sees' failure, it will see that result as a fail ... even though it's not!
And then what happens? The Start-Stop Cycle again.
Now, the mind also does some other pretty crazy stuff to us. Which brings us to why the weight comes back on. The same things that the mind does to put the weight back on can be exactly the same things it does which stop us from losing it again.
So Why Do We Regain The Weight We Worked So Hard To Lose.
1) The Mind (Again)
Any significant change in our life always comes with personal growth of some sort. And that growth usually comes with resistance. This is actually a normal part of life. Think of it like growing a pair of wings, taking flight and then hitting your head on the ceiling. The wings are your growth and the ceiling is your old beliefs and 'truths' that may not have shifted yet.
I had a client who was stuck in her 'truth' of being a failure. Week by week she kept calling herself a failure even though she was actually doing well. She could not shift her old truth, and ended up regaining the weight. She was determined - subconsciously - to remain as a failure.
Another client was stuck in her 'truth' that dieting was supposed to be restrictive and hard. She lost 6kg with me by eating lots of food, but her resistance showed up because her 'truth' about restriction would not shift. She regained the weight. She was determined - subconsciously - to believe that weight loss can ONLY happen from a place of restriction.
So if we're going to fly free, we need to shift our old truths so they stop smacking us in the face and influencing our behaviour.
2) Maintenance of Your New Metabolism
Remember how I told you that energy output decreases once your bodyweight decreases? Well, you need to consider that in maintenance.
What you did to lose weight is what you NOW do to maintain it. If you add in extra treats or go back to old habits you're going to increase your calories. It's that simple. But now, you have a smaller body weight and lower calorie expenditure. So you're going to possibly put yourself into a calorie EXCESS. And yes, you will start to gain weight again.
3) The Diet You Followed Was Just Too Cray-Zay.
The more extreme the method to lose weight, the more difficult it is to maintain it in the future. At some point your body is going to rebel. It'll do this by making you so tired you can't exercise, or crave so hard that you just eating all the food in sight!
Doing 3 hours of cardio a day and eating fuck all is not sustainable. At some point resistance will show up, along with excuses, tiredness, cravings, and binging. These are all ways that your body tries to stop you from being insane. It's built for survival after all and is trying to protect you from becoming sick, weak and dying.
Remember how I said the way you lose weight is the way you keep it off?
The way you lose weight needs to be sustainable so you can keep doing it once you've hit your goal. So if the method is too extreme right now and you can't imagine doing it forever - then you need to stop and select a different way. It doesn't matter if you're losing lots of weight on your eat nothing diet ... do you want to keep it off? Make sure it's sustainable.
4) Life And Stuff
The typical scenario is to start a diet, put our head down and stay "focussed" for 12-week ... 20-weeks or however long. And then as soon as the calendar flips over on the last day we can get back on with our life again. But that's just the problem - we now need to learn habits to deal with normal life.
I have a client and she has four pretty stressful kids. She lost weight with me, but over time she slowly become more and more consumed by the madness of life and the first things to slip were her own self-care. So she regained the weight. Thankfully, she checked in for a consult to get some more strategies in place.
Another client followed my plan to the letter! She lost 33kg, And then ... stress and life started happening to her and she regained 40kg! This was in my earlier days of coaching and what I had failed to do was to talk to her about her relationship with food and what would happen if shit showed up in her life. Because she was so perfect with the plan and her results, it never came up in conversation.
I know better now, and these days, I don't care how perfect a client's weight loss is - I make damn sure they realise that shit WILL show up, and if they deal with it through food and drink ... they will end up right back where they started.
4) Poor Maintenance Education
You did not fail.
The diet industry failed you.
In fact, even well-meaning Nutritionists, Personal Trainers, Dieticians, Psychologists and other weight loss coaches and products failed you. I even failed you at some point in time.
But fail isn't a great word. A person doesn't know what they don't know.
There is a good chance that the people you have seen didn't know the information I've shared with you. When I started out in coaching I didn't know this stuff either! So not only did YOU get bad advice in maintenance, we in the industry did also. Some of us stepped up to find it out - but unfortunately there are still a lot of coaches who haven't. That doesn't mean they're not great at helping you to lose weight, but they may not realise what is required for maintenance.
And that's why you have been regaining weight. You simply didn't know that there was still more work to be done AFTER you had hit your goal. That work kinda never stops - but I can assure you, it gets easier and bit more interesting and over time, it just feels like a whole new normal.
So, Here's What To Do Next.
- Accept where you are. Let go of the past - you did not fail.
- Pick yourself up, and start again (or keep going)
- Start again with a new attitude. What you do to lose weight is what you do to maintain it.
- Whatever resistance shows up, and as soon as bad habits, excuses or 'reasons' sneak back in - get some help immediately. Don't wait for 6-12 months to go by trying to sort it out yourself (unless of course you are successfully sorting it out).
- Stop quitting. Get help.
- Be realistic. No, it's not going to be easy. Making serious change never is.
- If nothing seems to be working with your nutrition I would recommend you select a Nutritionist like myself (well, you can even have me if you want) who can go through your dieting history with you and get a handle on where your metabolism is right now. That Nutritionist needs to put together a plan that allows you to get into a safe calorie deficit.
- Be prepared that the weight loss is likely to take longer this time, but it will happen if you stay the course.
- Start getting a handle on how life works. People are going to get sick around you and die. You're going to move house, start study, start a new job, get fired. All these things are part of life - how you deal with it will determine whether you're going to regain your weight or not. Start learning how to manage life without turning to food all the time.
Get involved in your own personal growth and development. That could be a counsellor or life coach. Or it could be just reading a new book every week, watching Youtube etc. I've just recently been introduced to the works of Jim Rohn. You could check out Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer or Brendon Burchard. Start expanding your mind around your excuses and the false stories of failure. Start understanding yourself better. You may even need to get bigger help with a therapist. It's your journey, you get to choose how you nourish your mind. Allow your mind to expand and grow so that you can start to shift some of your old beliefs.
A Final Note
Making a lifestyle change is a lot more than just changing your diet. It means we need to look at how we live our lives, what our relationship is with food and our bodies. It's how we manage our stress.
So if you've found yourself in this yo-yo weight loss cycle, it's time to rethink the game altogether. As the saying goes "If you always do, what you've always done ... you'll always get, what you've always got"
Contact me if when you're ready to do it a bit different.