Making Weight Loss Stick

I’ve written about a similar topic recently, in my article Why You Stopped Losing Weight. I realized though, that this article isn’t as much about maintaining weight loss, but instead the issue of stalled weight loss. Making weight loss stick for the long term is more of a psychological and habitual issue.

Taking a step back, let’s talk about how you’re actually losing weight. ANY diet that successfully allows you to lose weight is because of a calorie deficit. I don’t care if you think your body is just “fat”, if you are taking in fewer calories than you’re burning, you’ll lose weight. Your body does not defy the laws of physics.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system.

1st law of Thermodynamics, the conservation of energy

What this means is that if you are using more energy than you’re taking in, Where is your body getting the energy to function if not your food? It’s called your fat stores.

Now yes, your body can use glycogen, muscle, and more to create energy. The point though is that it has to come from SOMEWHERE. The goal is to force your body to use the fat. Your fat stores are typically the easiest place to pull energy from, through a process called lipolysis.

Let’s go back to those diets. How does every diet on the planet work? By limiting something in order to try and create a calorie deficit.

I love this graphic. By restricting something, you’re trying to create a calorie deficit. But, it’s highly dependant on you personally. Take intermittent fasting for example. Maybe you spend only 8 hours eating during a 24 hour period, but you eat the same amount of food as you would in a 24 hour period. That would mean that nothing has really changed. Or, you go low carb. But, you turn to eating a ton of bacon instead. Still probably won’t have a calorie deficit, and now “low carb just doesn’t work for my body”. Or even worse “I’m just a fat person”. You’re not, and you can lose weight the same as everyone else.

“My metabolism is slow”

It’s not. Well, maybe it is at the moment, but that’s not the issue. If you’re 300 lbs, you absolutely have a faster metabolism than a ripped body builder at 180 lbs. Fat and muscle have different effects on your metabolism, but in general, if you’re heavier you’re going to have a faster metabolism.

But my friend and I ate the same food and they lost weight when I didn’t!!!

Every person ever

That’s is absolutely possible. Are they the same size as you? Do they have more weight to lose? Do they exercise? Do they fidget a lot? Do they have a dog they have to walk? Do they have kids (kids tend to make you more active)? All of these things and more contribute to how many calories you burn in a day.

Metabolism is made up of many different values, and finding your “calories out” is actually pretty dang difficult. In descending order of importance, first you have your resting metabolism, or BMR. Then, you have your NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is your kids causing you to get up off the couch. Then, you have what everyone focuses on, Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT). Finally, you have the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). TEF is the energy that it takes to actually digest your food. Hint: this one reason why processed food is bad for you.

If any of these values differs between you and your friend, you’ll get different results. Don’t compare yourself to others, the best advice I can give you is to compare yourself to yourself.

“How do I compare myself to myself?”

Great question. The answer is weekly averages. Your weight WILL fluctuate more than you think day to day. This is why you need to look at your weight over the period of a week. My weight, as a 165 lb, 5’10” man, can change by 3-5 lbs on a day by day basis. Water weight can shift your weight dramatically, especially if you’re already large.

This will also help you understand that weight loss is not something that you do for a week. This is a llllooonnnggg term change. If you’ve been dieting for 4 days, and are already frustrated that you’re not losing weight, you have the wrong mindset.

If you’ve been dieting for 4 days and are already struggling, I can tell you right now that you’re probably going to backslide even if you do lose weight.

That may sound harsh, but most people don’t stick to their diets forever.

So, which diet should you pick? Which diet in the graphic at the start of the article is best? None of them. OR, all of them.

Really, they’re all fine as long as you create a calorie deficit. Under one condition, that you’re able to stick to it.

If you found a diet that you were able to lose 20 lbs in 1 month, but it killed you, it’s a crap diet. If you found one that you lost 1 lb in 1 month, and you loved it, that’s the diet for you. You stick with that for the rest of your life and you’ll lose way more than 20 lbs.

The best diet is the one that you can stick to.

So how do you stick to a diet?

Again, it’s different for everyone. But let me give you some things that worked for me and others.

  1. Find one that you enjoy. If you enjoy the food that you can eat, you’re going to be more likely to stick to it.
  2. Cut yourself some slack. If you want to, give yourself a predefined diet break. If this is once a week, or maybe once a month, plan out when you’ll give yourself a treat. DO NOT use this as an excuse to eat an entire cake.
  3. Exercise: This doesn’t mean that you need to lift weights. Go for a walk, bike, run, play a sport, anything. Getting active will increase your calorie deficit, or allow you to eat more of the things that you like.
  4. Mindset & expectations: Remember that this is long term. Expect that this will take a long time, and that this is a lifestyle change.
  5. Picture the future: Picture yourself with the body that you’re looking to have, or the feeling that you’re looking for when tempted to fall off the bandwagon. Remind yourself why you started. For me this was trying to get a six pack.
  6. Talk about it: Tell your friends and family what you’re doing. If you talk about it with others, you’re more likely to stick with it. You might also find someone who wants to do it with you!

In conclusion…

If you want to lose weight, the good news is that you can. If you have any questions about weight loss, I’d love to help you. I’ve gone through the same journey and am 30 lbs down in fat and up who knows how much in muscle (more to come on this). Email me at g.gibbons516 at gmail.com or comment on the post if you feel comfortable.

I’m not sure who first said this, but I love this quote.

The best time to start (losing weight) was 10 years ago. The second best time to start is now.

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