According to Dr. Rudy Leibel, a renowned obesity researcher, over 95% of people who lose weight regain the weight back within 5 years. I have heard numbers as high as 98% and as low as 80%. Either way, the fact remains that the vast majority of people who lose weight regain the weight back. The question we need to answer is why? Why do so many people regain the weight back after they lose it? Is there something wrong with the people or is there something wrong with the way we approach weight loss?
In my 24 years in the weight loss field, what I have discovered to be the main reason why most people regain the weight back is because of the way most weight loss programs approach weight loss.
Let me explain. Most people, in order to lose weight, need to make 3 to 5 major changes in their eating and activity habits. Most weight loss programs, in their effort to deliver the fast results that people want, have people make all the necessary changes all at once. Although they realize that making so many changes at once can be very overwhelming, they believe that once people see the results they want, they will be motivated to keep going. Unfortunately that is not true. If it were, then why do the vast majority of people who lose weight regain the weight back? If seeing results was motivating enough to keep people doing whatever they did to lose weight, they should not have any problem keeping the weight off, but they do. Why? Because the fact is, the best results in the world will not keep anyone motivated to keep going if the results were achieved through a method that is overwhelming. Making all the necessary changes one needs to make in order to lose the weight they want, all at once, is daunting for people to sustain. This accounts for the high percentages of people who end up regaining the weight back.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, whatever you do to lose the weight has to become habitual. If it does not become habitual and you constantly need to motivate yourself to keep taking the actions you took to lose weight, sooner or later you will burnout and quit your efforts. How many people do you know who followed some diet which they did not like, but they followed it anyway because they wanted to lose weight, and although they lost the weight, they end up regaining the weight back because they could not stick with the diet? Habits hold the key to sustainable weight loss!
What people need to realize is that humans are creatures of habit. According to Dr. Bruce Lipton in his book, The Biology of Belief, 95% of your daily actions and thoughts are controlled by your subconscious mind. In other words, they are habitual behaviors. Basically, your subconscious mind runs the show. The reason your subconscious mind runs the show is because your conscious mind is very limited in its processing power. Just to give you an idea, according to Dr. Bruce Lipton, your conscious mind can process around 20 million environmental stimuli per second where as your conscious mind can only process 40. So, in order to free up your conscious mind, your subconscious mind takes over any repetitive actions, so your conscious mind will be free to enjoy life. The subconscious mind is like the autopilot in a plane. Although the pilot is monitoring how the plane is flying, the autopilot is actually flying the plane.
Anytime you add a new action to your life that is not habitual, your conscious mind is in charge of that action. So you constantly have to will yourself to take that action. Eventually, if you repeat that action enough times, your subconscious mind takes over that action and that action becomes automatic. Basically it becomes habitual. Do you remember when you first learned how to drive a car? The first few times you were nervous, thinking of everything you needed to do to drive the car safely. The action of driving took all your attention. You could not even have a conversation while driving. Now after a little practice, you can do other things while driving, like have a conversation, tune the radio, and so on. The reason you can now do all those things is because many of the actions required for driving safely were taken over by your subconscious mind, so your conscious mind is free to do other things.
What people also need to realize is that every time you add a new action to your daily life and engage your conscious mind, that takes effort and energy. Depending on how you label the new action -“fun” or “chore” – it can also produce a curtain amount of discomfort. The smaller the action, the smaller the discomfort may be. Obviously, we all can tolerate small discomforts for a long period. The good news is that if you keep repeating that new action, eventually your subconscious mind takes over and it becomes habitual, thus returning you back to your comfort zone. The problem is that when you add 3, 4, or more new actions to your daily routines all at once, never mind that it may greatly increases the amount of discomfort you feel, it will also increase the amount of time it will take you to make the new actions habitual. So the combination of more discomfort for a longer period of time greatly increases your chances of burnout before the new actions become habitual.
That is why, when you try to change habitual behaviors or develop new behaviors, the best way to do it is one at a time, not all at once. By working on making a new action habitual, one at a time, you keep the discomfort level low thus greatly increasing your chance of sticking with the new action long enough to make it habitual. Once the current action you were working on becomes habitual, you move to the next action you want to make habitual and so on.
Yes, I do realize that working on changing or developing habitual behaviors one at a time will take you a little longer to lose the weight you want, but my question to those people who want fast weight loss at any cost is this. What is the point of losing weight fast if you are going to regain all the weight back again? Most of the time, slow and steady wins the race. I would even argue that losing weight by changing one habit at a time is actually much faster than any other method and here is why. I know many people who have been losing weight the fast way, for many years and yet they are still overweight because they keep regaining the weight back. On the other hand, people who lose weight by changing one habit at a time, might take few extra weeks or months to lose all the weight they want, but at the end, they get to keep it off almost effortlessly, because the new habitual behaviors they have developed are keeping them lean and healthy. And this is how sustainable weight loss is possible.
Stavros is the creator of Live Thin Stay Thin program. Is a online sustainable weight loss program on like any other weight loss program on the market today. With this weight loss program, you will not just lose the weight you want, you will keep it off too!