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permanent weight loss habits

If you’ve ever Googled “permanent weight loss”, you’ll probably find piles of articles that will tell you it’s almost impossible.  They’ll say the act of losing weight permanently is a myth, and the only way is through invasive methods like weight loss surgery.  While it’s true that approximately 80% of people regain the weight they lost within 5 years, it’s largely because of the methods we are using to lose that weight.  

Achieving permanent weight loss is possible once you understand how your metabolism works.

Let’s dive into the main reasons why it’s so hard keeping weight off, how to stay motivated, and the key habits of the most successful permanent weight losers.

The Problem With Popular Weight Loss Methods

Like most people, your weight loss method may involve strict dieting. With this, you may lose a relatively large amount of weight in a short period of time.  And even if you know this may not be the healthiest way, the quick-fix appeal is hard to keep away from.

When you see all the seemingly successful weight losers out there, It’s very convincing to think strict diet programs like Optifast or keto are the solution. They have amazing transformational before and after photos. But remember that every person is different. This is exactly why when I work with my clients, I encourage them to focus on their own journey and not anyone else’s.

One picture on Instagram is only ONE small snippet of a person’s life. It’s not fair to compare your journey to theirs. This. is because you don’t know what is really happening behind closed doors.

That is the part you don’t see in the headlines or testimonials. It therefore may appear that everyone is losing weight permanently, but that’s not the reality  Don’t be fooled into thinking everyone else has it all figured out and you are failing.

Also, fat loss vs. weight loss are two different things. Real fat loss (versus water weight loss) takes time!

One of the problems with quick-fix diets is that the faster you lose weight, the quicker you tend to gain the weight back.  There are several reasons for this, so let’s dive into them.

Why Is It So Hard To Keep The Weight Off?

If you’ve ever lost weight and struggled to keep it off, you may have gotten frustrated with yourself. Maybe you were doing something wrong, lacked the willpower to continue, or just lost the motivation. But the reality is that in most cases this is not why you’re gaining the weight back.

These are the 3 primary reasons why so many people struggle to keep the weight off, based on research.

1. Your metabolism slows down

As you lose weight, your body starts to adapt by slowing down your metabolism. This means that your daily calorie expenditure (i.e. the amount of calories you burn every day) declines. Even if you aren’t consciously trying to counteract this through diet and exercise, this can cause your weight to creep back up.

Even though it is incredibly frustrating, this is your body’s way of trying to protect you. Especially when you lose weight quickly, your body can get concerned and decreases your body’s ability to burn calories in order to try to prevent future weight loss. It’s kind of like ” hey, you’re losing too much weight and I’m not ready for it, so I’m going to fight against it.”

2. Your hunger increases

Along with this natural decline in metabolism, your body releases negative feedback circuits that increase food intake. When this happens, your body is trying to resist further weight loss by increasing your appetite and decreasing your satiety. In other words, it tries to prevent further weight loss by attempting to increase your calorie intake.

3. Your environment

Even though so many people truly want to lose weight, we still live in an environment that promotes weight gain all around us. We are surrounded by highly palatable ultra-processed foods that make us more hungry. Our lives are also busy and we’re eating out more.

To top it off, there may not always be many accessible opportunities for physical activity where you live.

Despite these challenges, I promise you permanent weight loss is possible. It all comes down to a few key habits that are practiced consistently, and this is what I teach my clients as well. Let’s dive into the research and my own experience on how to increase your chances of long-term weight loss.

Struggling to lose or maintain your weight? Read my article “10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight” to unpack what may be happening.

Habits of the Most Successful Permanent Weight Losers

successful permanent weight loss habits

Image credit: I Yunmai via Unsplash

Here are the most common habits of successful weight losers. This is based on the research to date and my own personal experience of working with weight loss clients for over 15 years:

  1. They eat a variety of foods that they enjoy. 
  2. They don’t avoid their favorite foods.  
  3. They are mindful eaters who listen to their bodies.  
  4. They exercise regularly – and mix up their exercises so it doesn’t get boring. 
  5. They surround themselves with positive people.
  6. They drink plenty of water. 
  7. They get guidance and support from a professional.  
  8. They stay consistent with habits that work for them.
  9. They don’t make excuses or beat themselves up.
  10. They become disciplined instead of waiting for motivation.
  11. They celebrate their wins and practice self-care.

These habits do not have to be (and shouldn’t be) implemented all at once, so don’t let this list intimidate you. They should be practiced one by one until they become an automatic habit, then you can move on to the next. I help my clients build these healthy habits until they become automatic, intuitive, and easy!

Want to learn more about how you can celebrate your wins and stay motivated? Check out my article “Non-scale Victories and Successes To Celebrate.”

Weight Loss Research – How many people actually keep it off

Many research studies discuss how weight loss success in the long term is grim.  However, there are not many studies conducted in the long term to date.  

One of the most significant long-term observational weight loss studies is the National Weight Control Registry Study. 

In this study, over 10,000 participants are observed over 5 years. They tracked habits, trends, and factors that led to the most success.  There were several common habits that the most successful participants had:

  • They ate breakfast every day
  • They weighed themselves at least once a week
  • They watched less than 10 hours of TV per week
  • They exercised regularly

It’s important to keep in mind these are common trends seen, but everyone is still an individual.  For some, weighing yourself weekly can trigger unhealthy food obsessions and eating behaviors.  There is no guarantee on what will work the best for you until you work towards this process yourself.

Ideally, you’d be working on this process together with a professional who can guide you. A Registered Dietitian can motivate you and guide you along the right path.

The Verdict: Is Permanent Weight Loss Possible?

Permanent weight loss is possible, but the key is in adjusting and remaining aware of your habits throughout the entire process.

If you feel defeated in your weight loss journey, know you aren’t alone in it. It takes time and practice to see what works best for you, what weight feels good and sustainable for you, and how to maintain that weight for more than a year or two.  

Remember that with every habit you practice, you’re getting closer and closer to your weight goal and becoming the very best version of yourself.

And even if you did gain a little weight back, you have still come a long way and are farther than you were before.

If you need guidance and support to keep the weight off, contact me to learn about my nutrition program and see if it is a good fit for you.

What do you think about the concept of permanent weight loss? Have you achieved it, and do you think believe it’s possible for you? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!