I wanted to share my thoughts on long-term weight loss because I think we can all benefit, no matter where we are in our weight loss journey.
I know long-term weight loss is very possible. It’s what we’ve been helping people do since 2007.
In order to fully understand what it takes to lose weight and keep it off, it’s important to understand why so many people have a hard time keeping it off.
Sustainable weight loss is definitely NOT possible if:
1) You lose weight in an unsustainable way.
When you lose weight in an unsustainable way — exercising for hours per day and eating very little — it’s by definition…unsustainable.
This sounds like common sense but it’s certainly not common practice.
It’s worth repeating: If the way in which you lose weight is unsustainable then your results are going to be unsustainable.
Simple way to tell: It doesn’t pass my five year test.
Ask yourself: Can I see myself eating this way / exercising this way / living this way, etc., in five years from now?
If you answered yes that is sustainable. If you answered no that is unsustainable.
Obvious, right? Seems that way for us MBT-ers because we know better.
2) You change nothing but the food you’re eating.
Most people go from one diet to the next, changing nothing but the food they eat. They rely solely on willpower and “white knuckle” it until they can’t take it anymore and revert back to old habits. This is why most plans get harder to stick with as time goes on and aren’t…sustainable.
A critical component of sustainable weight loss is changing your relationship with food. The only way to do that is by developing a new mindset + healthy habits, all of which we heavily focus on.
This is why it gets easier to stick to the plan as time goes on with MBT.
This takes time. It takes patience. It takes a willingness to be uncomfortable at times. But it’s so powerful when you realize the way you think and react to food is entirely different.
3) You’re never able to indulge.
I’ll never forget when a client told me about a diet she had tried in the past. It’s still unreal to me.
Get this. Before she started the diet, she had to literally sign a contract committing to never indulging again.
If being healthy and fit were as easy as signing a contract then everyone would be in amazing shape.
Besides, this isn’t about never indulging again. That’s no fun! I want us MBT-ers to be fit and happy, not fit and miserable.
4) You’re focusing on exercise way more than eating better.
The first thing many people think about doing when they want to lose weight is exercising.
80% of weight loss (different than weight maintenance) is diet. It’s about what, why and how we eat.
This is why you see people working their butts off in the gym month after month — even with a trainer (!) — without looking any different. We can’t out exercise a poor diet. It’s what we do between exercise that matters most.
This is why we focus on diet first. Then, once we build that foundation, we focus on exercise.
5) Only dealing with symptoms such as hunger, cravings, urges to eat, etc.
It’s like drinking coffee because you have no energy, rather than addressing why you don’t have energy: Are you only sleeping a few hours per night? Are you anxious? The cause of your energy deficit should be addressed and understood. If you address the underlying cause, you have a much better chance of making the behavioral change last.
Back to food…Hunger is subjective. What are you really hungry for?
Hunger, cravings, and urges to eat are never about the food. It’s about what the food allows us to avoid.
Dealing with the root cause is critical to sustainable weight loss and this is what we do.
It’s mind boggling to me how little the psychology of weight loss is talked about. I believe it’s the most critical aspect of weight loss.
Sustainable weight loss comes down to our psychology. It comes down to our mindset. No diet that is solely based on the food we eat (which is pretty much every diet out there) will solve why you gained the weight in the first place.
Food won’t fix our emotional, stress, mindless, and habitual eating. Food won’t get to the root cause. It won’t address the psychological and mental barriers we might face. Food certainly won’t change our behaviors and habits. And it won’t change the way we think and react to food.
6) You don’t learn how to listen to your body.
Instead, you’re told to eat a certain amount of calories, at certain times, and focus on specific portion sizes among countless other things. The problem with that is you’re not learning how to eat intuitively and mindfully.
You’re not learning how to decipher if you’re even hungry in the first place! Instead, you’re relying on external cues vs internal cues (which is the goal).
THE SINGLE BEST PREDICTOR OF MAINTAINING WEIGHT LOSS
Research has shown that the single best predictor of maintaining weight loss is how long you’ve already maintained the weight loss.
And when you lose weight in a way that you actually enjoy, it’ll be a lot easier to maintain the weight loss.
This is why we offer lifetime maintenance for free, once you reach your goals with us. I want success stories for life. That is my commitment to your long term success.
THOSE WHO DON’T SUCCEED
It’s very frustrating when successful clients want to quit a month or so into the program. Their reason is always something along the lines of, “I got this. This feels easy.”
I love that it feels easy!
That’s one reason why MBT is so sustainable. But the truth is, the real work doesn’t begin until it feels hard. Until it feels challenging and uncomfortable. This isn’t said to be self-serving.
It’s said because as good as I know we are, we’re not changing long-term (sometimes lifetime) habits within a month.
We’re absolutely changing behaviors, practices and thought processes, but it’s not habitual just yet, which is the goal. The client is still riding on the newness, excitement, and motivation wave starting a program will bring. It’s not second nature…yet.
(Having started MBT over 10+ years ago, I’ve unfortunately seen how it plays out countless times when they rejoin months/years later wishing they stuck with it the first time.)
The real work doesn’t start until the client has a tough week or two. Unfortunately, some clients want to bail the moment it gets challenging.
(This is why so many people are perpetual dieters — they go from one diet to the next and bail the moment it gets uncomfortable.)
WHY SO MANY PEOPLE GAIN THE WEIGHT BACK
Why do so many people think that once they reach their goal they can stop doing what made them successful…and…wait for it…remain successful?
The #1 reason why people stop succeeding is because they stop doing what made them successful.
“Success” has a price of admission every day.
It’s like brushing our teeth. Most of us are well aware that brushing our teeth isn’t a short term thing. We’ve accepted the idea that we need to keep brushing our teeth so long as we’d like to still have teeth. In other words, I plan to be brushing my teeth until the day I die.
Weight loss works the same way. The only things that are successful over the long term are things that we’re able to keep doing over the long term.
This is why we spend so much time on building healthy habits, learning the right mindset and changing your relationship with food. This is why we believe so much in daily accountability because it helps all of this become…second nature.
When you turn fitness — or more so the behaviors/practices/frameworks — we do and use, to lose weight into habit you can keep it going indefinitely. Bingo!
And it’s not just your brain that adapts to long-term habits. For example, right after you lose weight, your pancreas secretes large amounts of ghrelin, a hormone that drives the feeling of hunger.
But research has shown that if you maintain the weight loss, ghrelin levels (and therefore your sense of hunger) slowly drop back to where they were before you lost weight.
In other words, keeping the weight off gets easier the longer you keep it off. Again, this is why I strongly encourage clients to take advantage of our free maintenance plan when they reach their goal.
Last thing: There’s all kind of studies with all kinds of study sizes (usually very small) with all kinds of results. It’s easy to get discouraged by some, but it’s just as easy to get encouraged by them. Plenty of research shows that it’s very possible to lose weight and keep it off.
The National Weight Control Registry tracks the practices of successful dieters. Those who’ve kept the weight off for at least 5 years.
I bet you can guess how they kept it off…
Eating well, exercising and doing those two things consistently. Thankfully, by the time you reach your goal with MBT that will feel like second nature!