Weight management is one of the most difficult processes to master. After all, there is a reason that over 90% of people who lose weight are unable to keep it off in the long-term. This striking statistic highlights an important disconnect in our current society regarding the obesity epidemic and the education necessary to lead a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
Why Is Weight Management So Difficult?
Losing weight is one thing, but adopting the lifestyle necessary to lose weight and keep it off is a different story. So just why is it so hard for the majority of people to keep up the momentum from their diets? The answer to this question is very simple, but also very nuanced.
It is crucial to understand the effect that significant weight gain has on the body to get an idea of why people lose track so easily. It’s not laziness or a lack of motivation at all—it’s just biology.
Fat Changes Your Biology
One thing that scientists have concluded about gaining weight is that it plays tricks on your mind and body. When the body begins to pack on fat, it affects nearly every other system, ranging from your metabolism to the inner workings of your mind.
When more fat cells are integrated into the body, it convinces the body that this is normal, and so it starts to trick you into maintaining the fat. Not surprisingly, the answer to why this happens can be found if we look back at our evolution.
When humans were hunter-gatherers, fat was a precious resource. It provided a powerful source of energy, and as a result, the body developed processes to store and maintain fat in the body in order to maximize the chance of survival. In modern times, however, we are exposed to an abundance of fat and sugar in our diets.
This tricks our body into storing more fat while simultaneously appetite in order to maintain fat stores. At the same time, our bodies bombard us with hormonal signals telling us that we’re hungry all the time. The more you understand that your body is working against you when losing weight, the easier it is to make the hard choices necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Small Goals Are The Most Effective
Having short-term goals forces you to break a big goal down into more digestible, actionable steps. This makes it much easier to create daily actions that contribute to the big picture goals. These steps are more specific, actionable, AND achievable compared to just doing a diet and focusing on why it isn’t happening faster.
An outcome goal—what you hope to achieve in the end—might be to lose a certain amount of weight. While this goal may give you a target, it doesn’t address how you will reach it. A process goal is a necessary step to achieving the desired outcome.
For example, a process goal might be to eat five servings of fruits or vegetables a day, to walk 30 minutes a day, or to drink water at every meal. Process goals may be particularly helpful for weight loss because you focus on changing behaviors and habits that are necessary for losing weight, and also help you to create sustainable lifestyle choices that you can easily repeat over the long-term.
Setbacks Are Bound To Happen
This is okay! Due to the factors previously mentioned, we know that losing weight is not easy and that your body is not going to make it easy on you. The important thing is not to get discouraged by small setbacks and to ensure that you are kind to yourself on this journey.
Weight loss is about committing to a long-term lifestyle shift, not just a simple diet plan. With this mindset should come the acceptance that there will be difficulties and setbacks, but these do not define your weight loss journey!
Be Prepared To Adjust Your Goals
It is important not to be rigid with your approach. As you progress in your weight loss journey, your mind and body will begin to make positive changes. This might mean you find some new foods you like to eat or that maybe you take some pressure off of the “strict” diet you’ve been following.
The important thing is to stay mindful and aware of your progress and be open to adjusting your strategy as you progress. If you started small and achieved success, you might be ready to take on larger challenges. Additionally, you might find that you need to adjust your goals to better fit your new lifestyle ad your body’s requirements.
Contact Imperial Center Family Medicine Weight Management Team
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