Frontier Movement, Health and Healing in Action

Sustainability

If the method you choose for weight loss, diet and/or exercise is not SUSTAINABLE you cannot keep the weight off. Permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle change.

How often have you heard someone say “I am going to go on the Atkins diet for a couple of months and lose this weight?” Possibly you know someone who used a weight loss drug and lost a ton of weight, then blew up like the Goodyear Blimp. Often you will hear people say that a particular diet “worked great before!” If a weight loss plan worked great, you would not need to do it again because the weight would still be gone. All diet plans are capable of producing weight loss. Keeping it off is the real goal.

I only study those who have kept their weight off 5 years or more. Otherwise what you have is not weight loss, but more like a “weight loan,” which owing to adaptation, will be paid back with interest!

Many diets would have you pretend that you can do something radical now and back off later in “maintenance” phase. In my experience of working with weight loss clients, the very behavior that takes the weight off must be maintained in order to keep it off. If you can add back a certain food later and not gain weight, you gave it up unnecessarily in the first place.

If you are going hungry all the time it may occur to you that this is not sustainable behavior. If you are running 40 miles per week you will likely have a repetitive stress injury or just plain burnout. Weight loss drugs have increasingly negative side effects which require us to stop taking them or risk our lives. How does the SUSTAINABILITY principle play out with food and exercise?

If you have not read the Adaptation section you are excused to do so now. To recap: Subject gaining a pound a day on a 2000 calorie per day diet. Subject cut calories to 1000, lost weight but progressively slower until adaptation or plateau. Right here begins the sustainability question. Can you live on 1000 calories per day? If you can, you will likely maintain your weight loss for a very long time. It is far more likely that you will eat more on occasion, “cheating” in diet lingo, and slowly watch your weight return. Like the story of the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke, every time you step away from your diet, a little weight will “squirt” back on your tummy.

How about exercise? If you have lost some weight running 5 miles per day 5 days per week at 8 miles per hour, you must ask yourself a question. Can I continue to do this in order to maintain my loss? I call this one “Doing the Oprah.” Remember, in order to simply maintain the weight loss you must gradually increase your speed or distance because as you adapt you will burn less and less fuel.

Sustainability dictates that the tortoise ALWAYS beats the hare at permanent weight loss. We Americans are not a patient bunch. If I advertised a diet program that produced 1 ½ pound a week loss and even less for veteran dieters (better adapted to famine), I would not have many takers. But that is what you must do.

In studying successful losers, those maintaining losses for over 5 years, this is what you see. Remember that this would produce 75 pounds per year! SUSTAINED weight loss over two pounds per week is RARE. The slower programs do not create a big starvation response and the less radical behavior changes are much more likely to be sustainable. Radical behavior begets a radical Adaptation.

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