Didn’t anyone tell you “if it seems to good to be true, it is”? And isn’t it the case that you know this already? Then why do we keep getting suckered into weight loss products or programs that promise instant, dramatic, and revolutioning results? Why?
I think the answers to this question have to do with basic human nature and the nature of the world we live in. Human nature is such that when we are suffering we want the suffering to end…..and end quickly……. and with as little effort as possible. And the more pain we are in, the more quickly we want it to end. This natural reaction can lead many to a state of desperation. Desperation is why people will fall for gimmicks (Maybe there is a chance that it will work for us this time, even though similar efforts never worked before). On top of that the nature of the world we live in is guided to a large extent by business (let the buyer beware, or there is a sucker born every minute), by advertising and the media and by the desire to “strike it big” (go big or go home).
So this puts us in an uncomfortable situation. On the one hand, we have the individual living with obesity. The typical person feels bad about him or herselfbecause of his/her weight and wants a quick solution…..when it comes to weight loss, “the more the better; the quicker the better”. On the other hand, we have the medical and psychological professionals, who are increasingly acknowledging how hard it can be to change lifestyle behaviour, how the real challenge is in maintaining weight loss, and how relatively modest sustained weight loss (5 – 10% of initial starting weight) is a smashing clinical success. Because clinical success is modest but sustained weight loss I prefer not to use the term weight loss but prefer the terms weight management or healthier weight.
There was an interesting study done several years ago that confirmed that individuals with obesity considered a weight loss of at least 25% of their initial weight as success. If clinicians want you to stop at 10% and then focus on stabilization and you want to get to at least 25% you can see the dilemma.
So why can’t you keep going till you reach your “ideal” weight? Well, biologically your body reacts to weight loss by resisting it. If you lose too much your metabolism will change (slow down) so weight loss is harder. When you stop restricting and go back to a regular diet, you gain weight. Also, restricting your intake is hard and you can only go so long before you lose steam.
So consider your weight management goals as a long-term investment. A goal of 10% is reasonable. Once achieved, switch your focus to staying at that weight for a long enough period (6-12 months) to allow your body and mind to adjust. Then go for another 10% followed by stabilization…..then another……then another. This way you are more likely to avoid the try-fail pattern and establish a success after success pattern. Something to think about as you sit down to watch the latest episode of “The Biggest Loser”.