The hardest part about weight loss is not the actual losing of the weight. It is keeping off the weight that is lost. Sometimes, people think this is not something they have to think about until goal weight. But, that isn’t true. Weight regain can happen during the weight loss phase and can be devastating in terms of slowing down overall weight loss progress. I ended up losing about a quarter of a pound a week from the time I went back to Weight Watchers in August 2010 until I got back to goal. But, if you pull out all the time when I regained about 3/4 of what I had lost and had to lose it again, I would have been at an average loss of a half pound a week. During that period of gain, if I had simply maintained my existing weight loss even if I didn’t lose anything more, I would have been so much better off.
So, yes, maintaining lost weight is hard. I’m not saying weight loss itself isn’t hard. But, I find it easier to lose than to maintain the weight loss. During weight loss you get lots of positive feedback for that. Going to meetings and getting a star for losing 5 pounds. Seeing the number go down on the scale. Buying a smaller size pair of jeans. All of that is very reinforcing and fun.
Maintaining isn’t so exciting. You aren’t changing much during maintenance. You are just staying the same. It can get to be a drag. And, it can be hard to balance. That is, it can be hard to get to a point where you neither gain nor lose. And, people get used to you being your new weight so you don’t get that constant positive feedback. You have to mostly rely on yourself to keep it all going.
A recent study addressed weight maintenance and what helps. The answer is fairly simple: increased physical activity.