Exercise and Maintenance of Weight Loss

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.


The link above goes to the actual study itself.  A little more accessible and easier to read is this article in the New York Times that discusses the study.   [Read more…]

No One Solution to Weight Loss

I have long been a believer that there is no one solution to weight loss that works for everyone.  There was a recent article in the New York Times that discusses this. The article is “One Weight-Loss Approach Fits All?  No, Not Even Close.”  The article asks the question as to why some people lose a lot of weight on a particular diet while other similar people on the same diet lose nothing.  A good point is made that there is not just one type of obesity.  There are many types, one researcher cited in the article said he had counted 59 so far.  And, if there are different types of obesity and different causes then it makes sense there is no one perfect solution for everyone:

It makes as much sense to insist there is one way to prevent all types of obesity — get rid of sugary sodas, shun carbohydrates, eat breakfast, get more sleep — as it does to say you can avoid lung cancer by staying out of the sun, a strategy specific to skin cancer.

This made a lot of sense to me.  It has so often seemed to me that different people respond to different weight loss interventions.  I’ve had a lot of success with Weight Watchers and tend to eat moderate carbs at most (tending to the low moderate side).  Others don’t do well on Weight Watchers at all or might do well on a low fat diet. [Read more…]

Eternal Vigilance After Weight Loss

There was an interesting study recently published that talked about what happens after weight loss.  It is easy while losing weight to think about the “end” as being when we get to goal weight.  There is that assumption that if we can just get there, then we can stay there.  Especially if it has been so hard to lose weight, it seems that we will never gain weight again.  How often did I say to myself that “I will never let myself get fat again.”  And, yet, I did.

There are many theories as to why that happens.  Maybe it is genetics.  Maybe it is metabolic adaptation – the body burning fewer calories than would be expected after weight loss.  Maybe it is just that I am a flawed person who lacks self control and discipline.  No, I don’t actually think that the last one is right. But, all too many people do still think that and they tend to think weight loss and maintaining it is easy.

I posted awhile back about the recent Biggest Loser study which talked about metabolic adaptation. And I posted about Weight Watchers response to that study.  I did feel that study and other research I’ve read on the subject makes a good case that people who have lost weight typically burn fewer calories than people of similar size and characteristics who were never overweight. [Read more…]