The Big Picture of Permanent Weight Loss – Part 3
August 12, 2008
The Big Picture Of Permanent Weight Loss, Part 3
The researchers concluded:
results suggest that psychological factors may provide some explanation as to why many people with obesity regain weight following successful weight loss.”
This particular study was done on women, so it reflects some of the specific psychological issues women have – but make no mistake here – men also have their own psychological issues that can sabotage their long term weight loss efforts. (6)
Additional studies on men and women find psychological characteristics such as “having unrealistic weight goals, poor coping or problem-solving skills and low self-efficacy” often predict failure with long term weight loss. (7) On the other hand, psychological traits common to people who experienced successful long term weight loss include “…an internal motivation to lose weight, social support, better coping strategies and ability to handle life stress, self-efficacy, autonomy, assuming responsibility in life, and overall more psychological strength and stability.” (8)
The main point of this section is to illustrate that psychology plays a major role in determining if people are successful with long term weight loss. If it’s not addressed as part of the overall plan, it can be the factor that makes or breaks your success. This, however, is not an area most nutrition programs can adequately tackle and should not be expected to. However, the better programs do generally attempt to help with motivation, goal setting, and support. If you see yourself in the above lists from the groups that failed to maintain their weight long term, then know you will need to address those issues via counseling, support groups, etc. Don’t expect any weight loss program to cover this topic adequately but do look for programs that attempt to offer support, goal setting, and resources that will keep you on track.
“There’s a sucker born every minute”
So why don’t you see this type of honest information about the realities of long term weight loss more often? Let’s be honest here, telling the truth is not the best way to sell bars, shakes, books, supplements, and programs. Hell, if by some miracle everyone who read this article actually followed it, and sent it on to millions of other people who actually followed it, makers of said products could be in financial trouble quickly. However, they also know – as the man said – “there’s a sucker born every minute,” so I doubt they will be kept up at night worrying about the effects that I, or this article, will have on their business.
So let’s recap what has been learned here: the big picture realities of permanent weight loss and how you can look at a weight loss program and decide for yourself if it’s for you based on what has been covered above:
• Permanent weight loss is not about finding a quick fix diet, but making a commitment to life style changes that include nutrition and exercise
• Any weight loss program you choose must pass the “Can I eat that way for the rest of my life?” test,
• The weight loss program you choose should ultimately teach you how to eat and be self reliant so you can make informed long term choices about your nutrition.
• The weight loss program you choose should not leave you reliant on commercial bars, shakes, supplements, or pre-made foods, for your long term success.
• The weight loss program you choose must have an effective exercise component.
• The weight loss program you choose should attempt to help with motivation, goal setting, and support, but can’t be a replacement for psychological counseling if needed.
I want to take this final section to add some additional points and clarity. For starters, the above advice is not for everyone. It’s not intended for those who really have their nutrition dialed in, such as competitive bodybuilders and other athletes who benefit from fairly dramatic changes in their nutrition, such as ‘off season’ and ‘pre-contest’ and so on.
The article is also not intended for those with medical issues who may be on a specific diet to treat or manage a specific medical condition. The article is intended for the average person who wants to get off the Yo-Yo diet merry-go-round once and for all. As that’s probably 99% of the population, it will cover millions of people.
People should also not be scared off by my “you have to eat this way forever” advice. This does not mean you will be dieting for the rest of your life and have nothing but starvation to look forward to. What it does mean, however, is you will have to learn to eat properly even after you reach your target weight and that way of eating should not be a huge departure from how you ate to lose the weight in the first place. Once you get to your target weight – and or your target bodyfat levels – you will go onto a maintenance phase which generally has more calories and choices of food, even the occasional treat, like a slice of pizza or whatever.
Maintenance diets are a logical extension of the diet you used to lose the weight, but they are not based on the diet you followed that put the weight on in the first place!
Regardless of which program you choose, use the above ‘big picture’ approach which will keep you on track for long term weight loss. See you in the gym!
(1) Truby H, et al. Randomised controlled trial of four commercial weight loss programmes in the UK: initial findings from the BBC “diet trials” BMJ 2006;332:1309-1314 (3 June),
(2) Michael D., et al, Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone Diets for Weight Loss and Heart Disease Risk Reduction. A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2005;293:43-53.
(3) Comparison of Diets for Weight Loss and Heart Disease Risk Reduction—Reply. Michael Dansinger. JAMA. 2005;293:1590-1591.
(4) Kruger J. et al. Dietary and physical activity behaviors among adults successful at weight loss maintenance. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2006, 3:17 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-3-17
(5) Byrne S, et al. Weight maintenance and relapse in obesity: a qualitative study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Aug;27(8):955-62.
(6) Borg P, et al. Food selection and eating behaviour during weight maintenance intervention and 2-y follow-up in obese men.Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Dec;28(12):1548-54.
(7) Byrne SM. Psychological aspects of weight maintenance and relapse in obesity. J Psychosom Res. 2002 Nov;53(5):1029-36.
(8) Elfhag K, et al. Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain. Obes Rev. 2005 Feb;6(1):67-85
About the Author – William D. Brink
Will Brink is a columnist, contributing consultant, and writer for various health/fitness, medical, and bodybuilding publications. His articles relating to nutrition, supplements, weight loss, exercise and medicine can be found in such publications as Lets Live, Muscle Media 2000, MuscleMag International, The Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise For Men Only, Body International, Power, Oxygen, Penthouse, Women’s World and The Townsend Letter For Doctors.
He is the author of Priming The Anabolic Environment , Body Building Revealed & Fat Loss Revealed. He is the Consulting Sports Nutrition Editor and a monthly columnist for Physical magazine, Musclemag and an Editor at Large for Power magazine. Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the natural sciences, and is a consultant to major supplement, dairy, and pharmaceutical companies.
He has been co author of several studies relating to sports nutrition and health found in peer reviewed academic journals, as well as having commentary published in JAMA. He runs the highly popular web site BrinkZone.com which is strategically positioned to fulfill the needs and interests of people with diverse backgrounds and knowledge. The BrinkZone site has a following with many sports nutrition enthusiasts, athletes, fitness professionals, scientists, medical doctors, nutritionists, and interested lay people. William has been invited to lecture on the benefits of weight training and nutrition at conventions and symposiums around the U.S. and Canada, and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs.
William has worked with athletes ranging from professional bodybuilders, golfers, fitness contestants, to police and military personnel.
Tagged: bodybuilding, Diet, Fat Loss Revealed, Nutrition, Supplements, Weight loss, Weight Training
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