Why is Weight Loss so Hard?
Updated: May 10
We’ve all been there. Being very aware that your body has changed and your clothes don’t fit well anymore or at all. What are your first thoughts? “Oh man, I need to start exercising again” or “I need to stop eating carbs and dessert”. Maybe both. So you make a plan, starting on Monday you will cut out carbs and dessert, and exercise every day. Maybe you can keep at it for a week or two, maybe not. Maybe you see some weight loss progress, maybe not. Why is weight loss so hard? Well see, there are a couple reasons.
Restriction - When your body is being restricted (aka not eating enough food or not “allowed” to eat something), it gets worried. Your body thinks that it is going through a famine. Its instincts kick in and it tries to preserve the energy it has so that you will not starve to death. This means your metabolism slows down so that your body doesn’t burn through food too fast. This works against weight loss.
Restriction also ensures that you will fixate on the food you are not “allowed” to eat. Or if you are trying to eat less, you will be hungry all the time because your body is worried! This makes your weight loss battle all about willpower. Meaning you will most likely give in eventually and probably go way overboard when you do. Weight loss is so hard not because you don’t have enough willpower. It is not your fault. Your body is designed to work against weight loss. Your body knows how to be at its healthiest, and restricting your body will not make it healthier.
Set Point - Your body has a set point weight range where it is healthy and comfortable. It may deviate 5-20 lbs, making it a range. This set point is based on your metabolism, genetics, hormones and all those good things. Your body knows what weight is your healthy weight. Most people try to restrict and lose weight in the name of health but really, to be at our healthiest we need to tune into what our body is telling us.
Your weight set point is like a thermostat, when you eat too much your body compensates for it by speeding up your metabolism and making you feel full to try to stay at your set point. The same happens when you don’t eat enough, your body compensates by slowing down your metabolism and making you hungry. This means you do not need to obsess about every single thing you eat, your body is designed to compensate for what you eat and stay within its set point.
When you try to lose weight, the first 5-20 lbs may come off easy because you’re still in your set point, then you usually “plateau”. Those in the weight loss industry tell you that when you plateau you just need to restrict in a different way to keep losing weight. This plateau is your body’s way of telling you, “Please stop! I don’t want to lose any more weight!”. With each attempt at weight loss your set point may actually increase as a way to protect the body in case this threat of restriction occurs again.
Weight loss is so hard because it is not healthy.
So how do you know if your body is at its set point?
Start tuning into your body, what is it telling you? Can you tell when your body is hungry? Can you tell when your body is full? Can you tell when your body wants to move and when it wants to rest?
Your body has incredible intuition. You need to learn to listen. If you’ve been restricting your body for a long time your set point may be higher than your current weight. Learning to follow your body’s cues may mean some weight gain. That’s totally fine. Your body knows where your weight should be.
Weight loss is so hard because it is not healthy. The pursuit of weight loss puts your body in a state of starvation and is so incredibly hard on your mental health. This constant pursuit of weight loss tells you that your body is not OK the way it is. It tells you that you have no willpower and can’t control yourself. It tells you there is something wrong with you. It tells you that you are not worthy of love, affection or relationships.
Only when you decide to give up the pursuit of weight loss can you learn to respect your body as it is right now. Learning to respect your body means taking better care of it and that means a healthier body physically and mentally.
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