You'd think the person with the answer to this question would be heralded as modern societies saviour, the person who solved the mystery of why we gain weight and can't seem to lose it. Or perhaps at least this person would be rich in finding a way to capitalize on such a discovery.
There are indeed many who have become wealthy in selling their solution to the weight loss problem but in doing so another mystery arises; if all these people with the solution to weight loss do have the answer, why is it the population of the entire planet continues to become more overweight every year?
When humanity learned how to eradicate smallpox it was the end of smallpox. We have the antidote for excessive weight gain, but don't use it.
More of the population is overweight. This seems a logical explanation for why more weight loss clinics classes, blogs, news stories, and apparently novel weight loss concepts would materialize.
It's a question of supply and demand.
Interesting that the more this problem spreads the more full-proof solutions are propagated and sold.
Maybe at some point sock makers would sell so many socks that all the worlds people would have socks so no more socks would be needed. Too simplified. The population grows, socks wear out, and maybe people want to upgrade from $5.00 socks to $10.00 socks and so on.
Is fat loss the same way? Does one weight loss strategy wear-out requiring another strategy to continue weight loss? Is the more costly fat loss option more effective?
This can't be true because fat loss is about eating fewer calories than expended. There isn't another strategy. It is that simple, but complexities arrise in achieving that simplicity.
The National Weight Loss Registry, an ongoing study of what people who successfully lose weight and keep it off actually do has found the following:
To register people must have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for one or more years.
Registry members have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for more than 5 years.
The study is open to US residents and has published it's findings to date.
Here is what those who have lost weight and kept it off have in common:
45% lost weight on their own and 55% lost weight with the help of some kind of program
94% increased their physical activity with walking being the most common exercise, and one hour of exercise daily being average frequency and duration.
98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
78% eat breakfast every day
75% weigh themselves at least once per week
62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
The increase in physical activity increases calories out and the modification of food intake decreases calories in.
I'm writing this during the Christmas holiday season, but what I'm saying is relevant anytime of the year.
A common strategy that people tell me about when they are about to enter a social feeding frenzy, be it a birthday, an after the game or after the whatever chow-down, is this:
Since we're going to overeat anyway, why bother trying to mess with that since it won't work. Why not simply concentrate our efforts on what to do after we're finished the overeating celebration?
Makes sense. Christmas dinners? I've already bought the ticket to that train and I'm going to ride it out. Plus; why ruin Christmas (or whatever)?
"I just want to have a good type two diabetes with my family". Crap. Freudian.
What I meant to say sarcastically is, "I just want to have a good time feeling bloated and regretful for overdoing it and gaining even more weight". Whoops, I did it again.
The flaw in this strategy is that it is completely denial based and is merely used as an excuse to justify more overeating. Hardly anyone is actually going to follow through with the "I'll deal with it later" self afflicted con-job.
What is the expected outcome of never preventing overeating and always thinking about what to do after overeating?
Most will tell you the expected outcome is successful weight loss.
We are crazy about overeating, even when we know better.
Like I've said before in previous ramblings, the current consensus is that decisions surrounding eating are largely bound to seeking gratification. Not just any gratification, but the kind that has greatest power to amputate our better judgment.
This is ultimately what the 5% of the population are tapping into when they successfully lose weight and keep it off; understand the source of instant gratification and doing something about it.
They modify their behaviors and feelings about food and eating to such an extent that they no longer fall prey to their self-generated compulsion to overeat. Indeed the compulsion itself is greatly diminished down to a realistically manageable state.
Everyone who loses fat does it the same way. They consume fewer calories than expended.
The 5% who keep it off do so not by short term dietary and exercise habit changes, but rather over very long periods of lifestyle management.
The success is in realizing that overeating is just not worth the trouble.
We can all follow the habits of the the study subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.
If we did we would all permanently lose weight and keep it off. It's the "permanently" part that get most people (95%), as within mere weeks of implementing these proven habits, most people will feel like they are missing their doses of instant gratification. Most will feel compelled to fall back into the habits and social practices that promote and celebrate overeating.
When you surly love overeating there is nothing in the world that will break that love.
Wait.. There is one thing. It's the relationship killer.
No, I'm not talking about "cheat days" where you overindulge to cool your heals during a diet phase.
I'm talking about your love partner cheating on you. I'm talking about overeating stabbing you in the arteries while making love to your tastebuds and that part of the brain that allows you interpret the sensation of "wow, this is really good".
I'm talking about the epiphany the 5% get when they realize that the way they are living is not really making things better, but worse.
The hardest part about changing to healthy living habits is letting go the reward association with overeating and inactivity and making new reward associations with healthy eating and exercise.
If you don't fall for healthy living like falling in love you will forever be chained to the old relationship. The abusive relationship where you beg for those few moments of feeling good only to be burdened with lethargy, weight gain, and health issues surrounding unhealthy living.
Call me preachy if you like. I'm just telling it like it is and have no intentions of being a lifestyle judge and jury or diet zealot / guru.
I only write what I feel and what I have learned through reading research. My delivery is what it is.
Implement what I say though and you won't be doing what I say, but rather doing what research suggests we can do to escape one of the greatest societal plagues ever: the love and celebration of chronic overeating.