Now in it’s 15th season, the show The Biggest Loser, proves that Americans love a success story. The question is, how long lived are the competitor’s success? While the results seem to vary (for updates on the winners click here) there seems to a common thread amongst them: the people who truly adopted a new healthy lifestyle, oftentimes pursuing a career in the health and fitness industry, seemed to be the only people capable of keeping off the weight. The fact that any of the “Losers” were able to keep the weight off is actually quite impressive being that “by some estimates, more than 80 percent of people who have lost weight regain all of it, or more, after two years. Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles analyzed 31 long-term diet studies and found that about two-thirds of dieters regained more weight within four or five years than they initially lost.”
That’s a pretty daunting statistic and makes one wonder if you truly possess the power to be that 1/3 who has long term weight loss success. For this kind of motivation, it might be less important to look in the mirror and more important to take a look inside. For that reason, we will explore 7 important, but rarely discussed reasons you may or may have already regained the weight.
1. Licensed social worker and certified personal trainer, Dayna Kurtz, argues that as difficult as this may be to believe, "Maybe you weren't truly ready to lose the weight." As a counselor she would “encourage an individual to consider whether she was emotionally prepared for the changes weight loss can bring. In some cases, dramatic weight loss can have a significant impact on relationships, how others see us and how we see ourselves. The results can feel overwhelming if someone isn't really prepared.” Unfortunately for many, feeling overwhelmed can often lead to overeating and subconscious self-sabotage to get back to a life that was familiar.
2. Estelle Underwood, Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Bodyworks for Total Health in South Pasadena, California, offers that choosing endless cardio sessions over weight training as a possible reason you regained the weight. She told Skinny Mom that “this is most important in maintaining weight loss because weight training increases lean mass (muscle), which is metabolically active tissue and burns body fat 24/7. It is imperative for weight control. Most people think that fat is burned by spending endless sessions on the cardio machines, but this is not necessary! Shorter sessions of interval training are much more effective and efficient.” It is important to ask yourself if you are working harder or working smarter to keep the weight off. Get sweating quickly with Skinny Mom's 10-Minute Fat Blaster HIIT Routine! 3. Poor management is what Jessica Shepard a Brooklyn, NY based Certified Holistic Health Counselor and Owner of JRS Health Counseling and Bodywork, believes caused you to regain the weight. She compares losing weight to winning the lottery, explaining that, “since you don't know how to manage your new found wealth, you end up spending it all. The same holds true for weight loss, especially with fad diets. If you haven't actually identified and changed your weight gaining behaviors, as soon as you reach your diet goals, you fall back into your old ways.” Current research would agree that is often the case. If you give a person who has a spending money more money to spend, they spend it. After living a long life of counting calories, a person who is suddenly skinny might overindulge because they think they can now afford it.
4. Perhaps while losing the weight you didn’t eat enough bread. Come again? You heard correctly. According to Jason Hagen who holds a degree in Aging, specifically related to metabolic function, and is the Founder & Elite FitSpecialist for FitMetabolism Inc., going on a low-carb diet but not adopting a lifelong low-carb lifestyle is the quickest way to regain the weight. He told Skinny Mom that “We live in a carbohydrate world. So when we remove carbohydrates to lose weight (particularly elimination diet...ie no bread, pasta, etc..) we predispose ourselves to weight regain. This happens because our energy expenditure decreases as we lose weight and then we re-introduce the carbohydrates on a lower metabolism...result: weight regain.” He paints an interesting picture when he argues, “People are going to offer me a glass of wine or dessert at their house, not a chicken breast when I enter their home. I need to be able to lose weight on a carbohydrate diet. Our world won't change, so we must adapt.”
5. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, the founder and Medical Director of the Bariatric Medical Institute, which is dedicated to the (nonsurgical) treatment of overweight and obesity since 2004, offers his explanation for weight regain in Traumatic Dieting on PsychologyToday.com. “If your effort is personally perceived as a misery, given human nature, eventually you'll fail, not because you're weak willed, but rather because you're human, coupled with the fact that the world we live in is now a Willy Wonkian treasure trove of calories and dietary pleasure. This calorically non-intuitive wonderland is also why without ongoing thoughtfulness in terms of choices, lost weight comes back even for those who do it smart. I guess the lesson to learn here is that you can’t just diet, you need to do it with a smile on your face and hope in your heart!
6. Daniel Stettner, PhD, “advises people to separate emotions from the behavior. That means, in part, minimizing your feelings of deprivation -- and accepting the fact that it's a lifetime eating and exercise plan, not a diet and temporary workout plan. [Dieters] have a long history of dieting, he says. They have multiple-size clothing in the closet. They frequently expect they will regain. Part of the problem, Stettner says, is an attitude that needs adjusting. There is often this generalized underlying belief [from the long-term dieters] that I am just perpetually dieting.”
7. NBC news reports that “Experts believe a yo-yo pattern is often the result of a diet that's too restrictive, and a study reported in the journal Obesity backs that up: It found that people who followed a very low-calorie diet regained significantly more weight than those on a more forgiving plan. Desperate for quick results in a culture of instant gratification, "women try to lose weight on diets with too few calories," says Judith Beck, Ph.D., director of the Beck Institute of Cognitive Therapy and author of "The Beck Diet Solution." "If you lose weight on 1,200 calories a day, the minute you go up to 1,300 is the minute you start gaining weight."
While these 7 reasons may be rarely discussed, their importance should not be ignored. One should rethink starting a diet and instead opt for permanent healthy lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes may not offer the quick fix you may have come to expect but it will be a worthwhile investment in your “skinny” future.