Why Is Weight Loss So Hard to Maintain?
Losing weight can be difficult—but so can maintaining that weight loss. In fact, many people find it more difficult to keep the weight off than it was to lose it in the first place.
If you’re struggling with losing weight and keeping it off, here are four reasons why this might be happening to you and what you can do about it.
Focus on how you FEEL
We’re all guilty of it – we watch our weight go up and down on a scale, day after day. Most people set goals for weight loss, but losing weight and keeping it off is more about how you feel than anything else.
Just ask anyone who has lost weight – so many times we gain weight back because we went back to old habits that brought us down in the first place.
Instead of going after a goal like I want to lose 25 pounds, make your focus on feeling better overall. Make a list of all of your excuses for not working out or eating right.
Then cross each one off as you change your habits – doing things like taking walks or adding veggies to your diet can help you make small changes that bring big results!
Look at long-term progress, not short-term changes
You’ve put in a lot of work and changed your habits, but you might be tempted to give up if you don’t see instant results.
But it’s easy to forget that rapid weight loss is often followed by a quick plateau—which can derail all your hard work. Stick with it, maintain focus on your goals, and you’ll get back on track before you know it.
Remember: slow and steady wins the race. If you’re struggling to stay motivated or keep focused, ask yourself why. Are you eating too much junk food at night?
Not getting enough sleep? If so, make a plan to deal with those issues right away. And remember: Losing even 5% of your body weight can have an enormous impact on your health and well-being.
So don’t sweat it if you’re not shedding pounds as quickly as you’d like; just stay consistent and enjoy watching those numbers go down!
You’re never quite there
Even if you have success losing weight initially, gaining it back is nearly inevitable. This phenomenon is called recidivism or yo-yo dieting. Many individuals regain weight after successful dieting, says Dr. Smith.
And it’s really not their fault. It seems that our bodies go through food cycles in which certain nutrients are readily available and others are scarce—which means we end up storing some of what we consume as fat rather than burning it all off right away, which could contribute to recurring fat gain, according to Dr. Smith.
You need to see weight loss as a marathon, not a sprint
There are a number of reasons that it’s so hard to maintain weight loss. First, there’s something called calorie density — which is a fancy way of saying, you get more calories per bite when you eat processed food instead of fresh produce.
Plus, as we mentioned earlier, your hunger hormones are going haywire, which makes you even more hungry in between meals.
And there’s one more thing: weight loss often means sacrificing pleasure and giving up favorite foods—and that itself can lead to powerful cravings (not just for those foods but for food in general).
Exercise is KEY
Research has shown that people who exercise just 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week lose more weight than those who don’t exercise at all.
And not only is regular physical activity essential for burning calories, but it also reduces stress levels, strengthens bones and muscles, helps us sleep better and improves our mood.
These are just some of its many advantages! When trying to lose weight, exercising can seem like a huge challenge—but it doesn’t have to be.
Reassess your goals every few months
The number one reason people fall off track with their weight loss plan is they lose sight of why they embarked on a weight-loss program in the first place.
A goal isn’t just a thing you create and check off when you reach it. It should be a time-bound objective that helps keep you motivated in your pursuit of your goals.
Whether it’s staying under 10 percent body fat or running at least three times per week, having a purposeful goal can help keep you focused on what matters most: Your health and happiness.
This year, reassess your New Year’s resolutions every few months so you can stay grounded in what’s really important to you. If a resolution no longer works for you, change it! Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Don’t feel pressured into keeping a resolution if it no longer makes sense for your life. Instead, set new goals that are specific to where you are now and how far along your journey toward better health and wellness have come.
As part of those updates, write down how well each resolution has been working for you—and whether or not each one still feels like something worth pursuing right now.
Remember weight loss isn’t linear
If you’re looking for long-term weight loss, you may want to consider not focusing on it in the beginning. When people start a new diet or exercise program, they’re not always focused on what their end goal is.
Focusing on how you feel now and whether your body composition is changing as a result of your efforts will help keep your longer-term goals in perspective.
Remember that losing weight isn’t about reaching a number or being done with something forever; it’s about starting down a new path. This is especially important if one of your short-term goals was weight loss—now let’s get more specific.
Stay away from fad diets!
To understand why it’s so hard to maintain weight loss, you first have to understand where you are in your weight-loss journey.
Losing weight is a process and not a one-time event. It’s common for dieters looking for long-term results to go on multiple rounds of dieting before realizing that diets aren’t sustainable—and even more common for those dieters to gain back every pound they lost, plus some new ones (or more).
If you’re like most people who have trouble maintaining their weight loss, it’s time for a wakeup call: Diets don’t work.
And if anyone tries selling you on their special brand of diet, run away fast! Research has shown that no type of dieting works better than any other over time.
Understand where you are in the process.
If you’re not seeing results, it’s easy to panic and throw in the towel. The good news is that exercise is not about your appearance; it’s about your health. If you want to lose weight, it’s important to understand that shedding pounds is just one part of getting healthy.
While it may seem like an achievement, losing weight isn’t a personal failure if there are still unhealthy habits or behaviors lurking under your new physique. Instead of dwelling on how far you have left to go, celebrate each step you take toward a healthier lifestyle. That will help keep things in perspective—and keep you from quitting altogether.