In a meta-analysis of 29 long-term weight loss studies, more than half of the lost weight was regained within two years, and by five years more than 80% of lost weight was regained.
In discussions with people who want to lose weight, many have told me that keto, Paleo, Whole30, Intermittent Fasting or numerous other diets “worked” for them. I then challenge them on those statements – if that approach truly worked, then why did you gain the weight back? Short answer: it didn’t actually work.
Long-term weight loss must be approached in a sustainable way. If embarking upon a new way of eating, ask yourself – “can I eat like this forever?” If the answer is “no,” the odds are against you.
With restrictive diets, you don’t necessarily learn how to navigate life and achieve balance. To that point, weight loss challenges aren’t indicative of real life. Most anyone can hang tough for 30, 60 or 90 days, especially if they have a competitive spirit and there’s a prize at the end. But, what happens afterwards? Do your old ways sneak in? Did you truly learn habits that you will adopt forever?
Susie Marikle, Vero Strength member and Clinical Psychologist adds, “Our bodies are the products of our habits and our genetics. And the most beneficial habits are the ones we can maintain most consistently. One of the many problems with a weight-focused approach (diets and challenges tend to be very weight focused) is that when you focus on the outcome and not the process, you often end up doing things that aren’t sustainable habits. By focusing on behavior that can be sustainably increased or decreased, such as the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat in a day, or going to bed 15 minutes earlier, or decreasing screen time, you take your focus off weight and put it on habits you can actually control. Figuring out which habits are sustainable and what outcomes are realistic is definitely not easy but can be made significantly easier with the right support.”
Why are you binge-eating? Or restricting? Or grabbing for sugar when you’re stressed?
The answers are different for everyone and fad diets and weight loss challenges don’t typically help you answer those questions.
Bottom line: successful weight loss happens when you address behaviors and the thoughts and emotions behind them. While some people can simply be mindful of their emotions and relationship with food to make changes, many others cannot. If the issue has been persisting for a long time, if you’re apt to yo-yo dieting or have a toxic relationship with food, it may be time to seek professional help.
Relationships with food are complicated.