Maintaining weight loss – why is it so hard?

So you’ve managed to lose weight? According to research, losing weight is the easiest part of the game, it’s maintaining weight loss that is the biggest battle.

New research published this month gives us further insight into why many of us are fighting a losing battle with the bulge.

When we lose weight, our bodies hormonal system works to resist the weight loss, probably a historical mechanism to help prevent starvation in times when food wasn’t as abundant as it is today.  A study published in the New England Medical Journal found that after following a 10 week very low energy diet, significant reductions were found in the hormones that suppress appetite, and increases in the ones that stimulate appetite.  These hormonal changes corresponded to those on the study reporting an increased appetite.

So is it all bad news then? No, not at all. There are people who are very successful in maintaining weight loss. Here’s my top tips for maintaining weight loss:

1. Lose your weight slowly.  This study used a very low calorie diet which often produces rapid weight loss.  I wouldn’t recommend cutting calories drastically, as your body will respond as above, plus it’s hard to continue this way.

2. Regular exercise shouldn’t be seen as just a weight loss tool, it should be a life time commitment to good health and a healthy body weight.  Once you reach your late 20s you start to gradually lose muscle mass. Resistance exercise helps build and maintain muscle mass. Include resistance and cardiovascular exercise in your weekly routine.

3. Deal with unhealthy eating behaviours.  If you eat for boredom, stress or depression – find a way of dealing with these issues that doesn’t involve food.  If you really struggle with emotional eating, counselling can make a big difference. This website can be useful in finding a qualified counsellor.

4. Maintain your healthy eating habits.  Reaching your goal weight isn’t a reason to go back to old eating habits.  Eat healthy foods, appropriate portion sizes and have the occasional treat.

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