There is a justifiable and growing concern for personal and organisational health and wellbeing. Yet while the incidence of obesity rising worldwide, more people than ever are giving up on trying to lose weight.
And it’s no wonder – around 80% of people who lose weight put it back on.
So, is it worth trying to slim down yet again? You may be wondering if it’s even possible to lose weight permanently, especially if you feel you are disadvantaged by your age, your genes, your diagnoses, your history, or your lifestyle.
Fair questions. So, I want to answer them with some powerful facts.
1. Lots of winners just like you
There is a database in the US (called the National Weight Control Registry) of more than 10,000 people who have, as a minimum, lost 10% of their body weight and kept it off for more than a year. Actually, the average weight loss for people on that list is 30 kg, for an average of 5 years. 80% of people on the list are women, whose average age is 45. So champion weight losers are not spring chickens.
2. Back to basics
Many scientists have used that database to determine the things that lead to lasting weight loss. The vast majority of the people in the Registry changed how they ate and increased their physical activity. Meaning? Forget the hype, there is no magic formula. It really is about the basics.
3. Try, try again
Most of these people had tried to lose weight a number of times before they were lastingly successful. As one person on the Registry put it, ‘I’m here because I pushed through the bad days.’ Lesson: this is about staying the course. Experimenting. Failing. Learning. Succeeding. Commit, and give yourself this opportunity, again and again. There is no other way.
4. Not easy, but entirely possible
One of the founders of the Registry, obesity researcher James Hill from the University of Colorado, said this: Losing weight and keeping it off is hard, and if anyone tells you it’s easy, run the other way. But it’s absolutely possible, and when people do it, their lives are changed for the better. If they did it, you can too. Persist and find what works for you. Then it becomes just a matter of time.
5. Behaviours, not genes
While a number of relevant genes have been identified, recent research suggests that genes account for only about 3% of a person’s ability to lose weight. (No that’s not a typo.) What matters more? The behaviours that form a sustainably healthy lifestyle. Stuff that you have a lot of control over.
6. I did it my way
Finally, a number of different eating styles appear to result in weight loss (ie. low fat, low carb etc.) In fact cutting edge research suggests that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to weight loss. ‘What works’ depends on your body, available time, comfort with cooking, income etc.
So, weight loss is possible if you approach it with patience and a commitment to experimenting with various strategies until you find what works for you. This commitment involves every domain of your life – mental and emotional, social, physical and spiritual.
The changes you will need are most likely small and long-term, and the benefits to your health is substantial.
It is a journey well worth taking again, and you can do this.