Over 70 million people in the United States attempt to lose weight each year and spend more than $30 billion in the process. Many will be successful at losing the initial weight; however sadly most will be unable to keep it off for very long. Why is this the case?
I believe part of the problem lies within the fact that most people who set out to lose weight do so without anticipating (or perhaps wanting to anticipate) that their weight issues will continue beyond the point of their initial weight loss phase. We have a sort of euphoric belief that somehow anything and everything will be better once we lose weight- and the issues and/or behaviors throughout our life that brought us to our heaviest weight will kindly go away. Sounds great doesn’t it? Then sooner or later, the nasty truth begins to emerge, “You mean I have to watch what I eat for the rest of my life if I want to keep it off?”
If you are beginning to grapple with this harsh reality, congratulations! You are among the minority of people who have discovered that weight management is a journey, not a destination. People who are successful at losing and keeping off the weight forgo the so-called crash diets mostly because they realize that the faster they lose it, the faster they gain it back. A healthy rate of weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week. If you are losing more than that, chances are you are losing more than fat-you’re probably losing muscle as well. This drop in muscle mass is what contributes in part to the rapid regaining of weight during the maintenance phase, and it’s your muscle mass that is largely responsible for increasing your metabolic rate.
But the real benefit to losing weight at a slower, healthier rate is something entirely different which has more to do with taking in the sights along the way. You’ll discover your likes, dislikes, behaviors and habits, that may have contributed in some way to your weight gain in the first place and have an opportunity to address each in a way you wouldn’t normally had you plowed through the weight loss phase of your journey at 100 miles per hour.
We all want to lose weight quickly. But if you want this time to be the last time, you have to take the time. Remember, it’s not about the speed of losing the weight, but about the journey.