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Will I always be in danger of gaining weight back?


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I've been overweight pretty much my entire life except maybe before I got into the double digits age-wise. After having been losing weight successfully, it came to me that once I lose all of this weight, will I constantly be in more danger of gaining it back than someone who has been thin their entire life? Whether that is through simply old habits coming back, genetics, or life style?

I feel like I've somehow messed up my genetics or health in a way that even if I lose all the weight, I will constantly be struggling 10x more than said thin person even if I'm still eating correctly and exercising regularly.

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Original Post by bleuatre:

I've been overweight pretty much my entire life except maybe before I got into the double digits age-wise. After having been losing weight successfully, it came to me that once I lose all of this weight, will I constantly be in more danger of gaining it back than someone who has been thin their entire life? Whether that is through simply old habits coming back, genetics, or life style?

I feel like I've somehow messed up my genetics or health in a way that even if I lose all the weight, I will constantly be struggling 10x more than said thin person even if I'm still eating correctly and exercising regularly.

I`m going to stick around `cause these thoughts do trouble me now and then.

Yes, studies have shown that people that lost weight maintain on less than people that were never overweight in the first place.  If someone is naturally 140 lbs, they can maintain on more than someone that was overweight and lost down to 140 lbs.  I have also been overweight most of my life.  I have lost and regained weight several times.  Finally in 2010 I decided enough was enough and decided to lose it once and for all.  So far I have maintained that loss for over 18 months but I realize that it is a daily battle that I have to fight.  Basically you cannot go back to your old ways of overeating high cal/junky foods.  I now base my eating on what is nutritious and healthy for me 90% of the time with some "fun food" allowed on special occasions.  I have decided that my health and well being is worth the effort!  I also make fitness goals and exericse 4-5 times a week to stay in shape and help keep the weight off.

This doesn't mean that your food shouldn't taste good or that you shouldn't enjoy it!  Just that is should be nutritious and promote a healthy body.  :)

Two books that have really changed the way I look at food are :  "The Paleo Solution" and "It Starts with Food". 

It doesn't seem fair, but the short answer to your question is, yes, your body will always be trying to regain that weight. 

There was a terrific series on HBO recently, "The Weight of the Nation." You can view it on the HBO website, which I thought was nice. (I don't have cable and stream all my TV on computer.)  Anyhow, the second episode deals with people struggling to lose weight and explains why it is so hard to keep the weight off.  It seems that whatever weight was your highest becomes the default weight that your body wants to achieve. 

The series explained that if you take two women of the same age, height, and weight but one has been at that weight all along while the other just lost 20 pounds to be at that weight, the one who recently lost the weight will have to consume fewer calories to maintain that weight.  (This is essentially what Tina is saying in the previous post.)

Again, it doesn't seem fair, but so many things aren't.  We just have to deal with it.  If more people realized that by gaining weight they were essentially "reprogramming" their metabolisms, I suspect they would work harder to prevent that weight gain. 

I highly recommend viewing "The Weight of the Nation." It was a real eye opener for me, and I consider myself pretty well informed about health issues.

 

I've also read that a person who has lost a lot of weight will have to maintain on less calories than someone who never had to lose weight at all.  I am pretty sure that is true of my own circumstance. 

However, I don't think it's a "struggle" or that it's 10 times harder.  It's a little extra work and a little bit of disappointment that I don't get to eat quite as much as my tastebuds would like.  200 calories or so?  Not that big a deal in the scheme of staying as healthy as possible. 

It's all about replacing habits. I am an emotional eater, so I tend to want to gorge myself whenever something stresses me out (ask me how I know, I'm finishing a dissertation!). I lost about 40 pounds and gained it all back and then some when I started writing simply because I went back to my old ways. The thing is, I wasn't fighting, I allowed it to happen. I just went back to old habits.

To the overweight, dieting is eating less than you want to, and when you get your target weight, if you still feel like you're eating less than you want to, you have to either continue to fight that or find a way to make yourself want less. Pretty simple solution, no? :)

I think the best advice I read recently was this: Whenever you want something to eat, don't think about how it will make you feel when you're eating it, or immediately afterwards. Think about how you'll feel 10 minutes afterwards, or 30 minutes afterwards. The people who are naturally thin and can maintain that way hardly ever find the joy associated with eating unhealthy food as trumping the feeling they'll have not long after eating it. Think about it -- I love to eat chocolate cake, but if I eat a giant slice, as I'm often inclined to do, I feel sluggish, tired, and heavy not long after eating it. I even regret having done it, but the next time the chocolate cake rolls around, I don't think about that sluggish, tired feeling, I think of the delicousness of the cake and the happiness that eating it makes. If I even thought for a second about the after-effects of eating that cake, I'd at the very least think twice and at the very most just avoid or control portions.

It's all about changing our habits, and having a couple of good partners along the way to keep us going.

Good luck!

~Mo

You know, at first when I was reading all these replies I was super depressed about it all. Who wants to struggle their entire life? But then I thought about it.. and I just don't want to be overweight anymore. I want to be able to live my life and not have it dictated by my weight or the things I want to shove down my trap. Besides, my life is about being healthy now and part of being healthy is eating right. That means not just eating healthily (the easy part for me), but portion sizing (the part that's always done me in).

And even more than that, I don't even know why I'm worrying about it because I've been eating perfect portions for months now and I feel better than ever. Sure, every once in awhile I have this huge temptation to go eat an entire pizza but I never do it. It's not like I even did that before anyway so what's the loss?

And that's exactly the point! I'm not losing anything (except my weight :P), and in the process I'm gaining back something I hadn't realized I'd lost in the first place; my life. Thanks to all for the replies, definitely eased my troubled mind :).

Basically it comes down to do you want it bad enough?  I have 4 young children I want to be around for for a long time.  Health takes priority and I never want to go back to being overweight and unhappy again!  It's worth all the effort to be healthy and the longer I do it, the easier it gets :) 

LaughingI'm so glad I found this thread!  I needed to respark my mojo and this really helped xo

I don't buy that it has to be a constant struggle of maintaining on less than the typical person of the same weight.  The studies that I have seen that investigate this usually have the participants on a very restricted diet.  I've seen one study that had the participants only eat 550 calories a day, and even if every calorie was devoted to protein, it still would not be enough for the average person.  People lose weight on these diets, but they also lose muscle because they don't get enough protein.  We know that muscle mass is a significant contributor to metabolism and when people go on these calorie restricted diets or 'fad' diets, they lose muscle mass and lower their metabolism.  I think that this is why they maintain on less than the typical person for their weight.  However, there is much less research concerning individuals who took a more reserved route of, say, a 500 calorie deficit.   Also, I don't see much merit behind the 'set-point' hypothesis.

(1) I would put tina0367's point first:

"Basically it comes down to do you want it bad enough?"

(2) Then, I would add that in order for a person to lose significant weight AND keep it off, he/she needs incredible will-power for many, many years! 

(3) Next, a person must avoid rationalizing why he/she can not continue to stay at maintenance.  Many people believe (and they could very well be right) their happiness is more important than being unhappy at a lower weight.  But just as with not-quitting smoking, etc. -- one can rationalize why he/she should not keep the weight off.

(4) Finally, a person must recognize that his/her own body may be genetically-wired to conspire against him/her in terms of keeping weight loss off.  For people who gained significant extra weight, the body just may not cooperate in keeping that weight off. 

==========

why dieters regain weight
("Dr Leibel states that ALL the methods to keep weight lower than the body wants, are ineffective in most people except the gastric bypass.")

will I regain weight I lost 
("I believe it's [people gain weight back] because most people go to extremes to drop pounds. They drastically limit calories, cut out entire, beloved food groups or go overboard with exercise rather than making realistic lifestyle changes that they can live with over the long haul."--Liz Neporent)

from how to keep weight off

"They've [ Wing and Hill] identified four behaviors common among people who've kept the weight off:

  • Eating a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet consisting of 24% fat, 56% carbohydrates, and 19% protein
  • Eating breakfast almost every day
  • Monitoring weight regularly and keeping a food journal
  • Getting about an hour of physical activity on most days, often from walking"

=======

For me, the primary way that I have kept my weight off is: "Monitoring weight regularly and keeping a food journal." 

Basically I can never go back to eating whatever I want whenever I want to eat it. Do I consider it a huge struggle?  No, not for the most part.  Do I have to think about almost everything I eat and plan ahead, absolutely or I would start to gain the weight back.  I also believe that exercise is key, especially strength training, in maintaining overall muscle mass and keeping your metabolism up.

I am still learning new things about diet and exercise and the role different foods play in our health.  You really have to make it a priority.  I also weigh regularly and keep track of my foods, maybe not on a daily basis any more but fairly often.

Original Post by kneicesby:

It doesn't seem fair, but the short answer to your question is, yes, your body will always be trying to regain that weight. 

There was a terrific series on HBO recently, "The Weight of the Nation." You can view it on the HBO website, which I thought was nice. (I don't have cable and stream all my TV on computer.)  Anyhow, the second episode deals with people struggling to lose weight and explains why it is so hard to keep the weight off.  It seems that whatever weight was your highest becomes the default weight that your body wants to achieve. 

The series explained that if you take two women of the same age, height, and weight but one has been at that weight all along while the other just lost 20 pounds to be at that weight, the one who recently lost the weight will have to consume fewer calories to maintain that weight.  (This is essentially what Tina is saying in the previous post.)

Again, it doesn't seem fair, but so many things aren't.  We just have to deal with it.  If more people realized that by gaining weight they were essentially "reprogramming" their metabolisms, I suspect they would work harder to prevent that weight gain. 

I highly recommend viewing "The Weight of the Nation." It was a real eye opener for me, and I consider myself pretty well informed about health issues.

 

Thanks for the info on this series. I'm off to watch in now. Looks great!

I went from 350+ to being 130 and anorexic and having to gain weight back. I wonder if my body wants to get back up there? I certainly hope not...

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