Published July 22, 2013
It’s a widely quoted statistic: 95 percent of people regain lost weight. Such a statistic makes you wonder if you should even bother with the workouts and the healthy eating. Before you turn your treadmill into a sanctuary for unfolded laundry and hang-dry only clothing, you should know a few facts about why people regain weight and exactly where that astonishing statistic originated.
The year is 1959 and a small study out of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders concludes that 95 percent of people regain weight within a few months to a year of losing it. The study included only 100 participants and made a catchy headline that rapidly became a centerpiece in the mythology of obesity.
In 1999, two doctors set out to determine if this discouraging fact was indeed a fact. Dr. Wena Ring and Dr. James O. Hill conducted an analysis of the National Weight Control Registry and quickly identified more 2,000 success stories of weight loss and maintenance. This surprising information spurred them to compile more detailed data and survey the successful dieters. They found that on average, most dieters maintained a loss of 67 pounds for five years and 12 to 14 percent maintained long-term losses of more than 100 pounds – proving that the 95 percent failure rate was poorly founded.
So if success isn’t so futile, then why do so many people regain lost weight?
The wrong mindset
The number one reason people regain weight is the diet mentality. The word “diet” earned its reputation as a four-letter word because it has become associated with a period of deprivation and what some would classify as torture. For many, “diet” means a set span of time during which you must exercise superhuman willpower to resist delicious temptation and overwhelming pains of hunger at the end of which you can finally reward yourself with junk food favorites.
Very few individuals perceive the concept that healthy eating is not finite – it’s a lifelong commitment. Fad diets don’t work, because you can’t sustain that way of eating forever. Choose a healthy eating plan that incorporates whole, nutritionally balanced foods.
Lack of sleep
Sleep is often the first thing to get bumped from your list of priorities when your schedule gets busy, but just like working out and eating are essential to weight loss, so is sleep. Aside from the fact that sleep is essential for your body to repair itself, sleep deprivation can lead to mindless munching. Lack of sleep can add to daily stressors that might cause you to reach for comfort foods.
Studies have shown that fatigue associated with poor sleep habits leads to a higher BMI and increased cravings for junk food. To maintain your healthy physique, try to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night.
When you get stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. In the right amounts, this hormone helps us function under pressure. But in the event of chronic stress, cortisol can kick into overdrive, stifling your metabolism and increasing cravings for fatty foods and starchy carbohydrates.
Reducing stress is difficult, especially if the stress is linked to situations that are difficult to change – such as a job you hate or financial pressures. Practicing yoga, meditation or deep breathing techniques for just a few minutes each day can help you calm your body and keep excess pounds from stacking up.
As you age, you may find it difficult to lose and maintain a healthy weight. Hormone imbalances, like a thyroid disorder, can suddenly impact your weight. The thyroid plays a key role in metabolism regulation; therefore an imbalance can result in unexplained weight gain. Menopause, andropause and adrenal fatigue are also conditions of hormone imbalance that may contribute to excess pounds.
Correcting these imbalances with hormone therapy and working with your physician to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that includes a balanced diet, routine fitness, healthy sleep habits and stress management techniques, can help you achieve and maintain your weight management goals.
Maintaining your weight loss means healthy habits have to become a way of life – and no one said it was easy. However, with the right mindset, support from your health care team and peers, as well as applying the right habits, you can ward off excess pounds for a lifetime and add to the statistics of success!