This month we are tackling the topic of regaining weight after a large weight loss–IS IT INEVITABLE??? Well, if you look at the statistics, I guess it is. “They” say that 95% of the people who lose weight will regain all the weight they lost. But that’s not really what we’re talking about. At least its not what I want to talk about.
I want to talk specifically about me. Isn’t that what this blog is all about? I want to talk about people who’ve lost a large amount of weight–let’s say one hundred pounds,– and then bounce back up 10-20-or 30 pounds. Is that inevitable? Is it the norm? Short answer: I don’t know. I’ve never read anything directly addressing that issue. But I do know what I have witnessed. And I know my own experience.
Eight years ago I weighed 255 pounds.
Two years later, I had lost 100 pounds.
(In 2009, at 155 pounds.)
I maintained it for a while, and then over a period of about 3 years I gained back 25 pounds. Was that because life was extra stressful during those 3 years? (It was.) Was it because I ate too much? (Umm, yeah. Obviously I ate too much to maintain that weight loss.) Or was it because my body was struggling to “return to normal”?
- My life was super stressful for those three years. I can see it better now than I did when I was in the midst of it. I don’t remember thinking specifically “Oh I can’t stand the stress. I’m going to eat whatever I want.” And the truth is, stress is just part of life. It will always be with us. It was during this time that I worked through a book on emotional eating and discovered that I ate in response to anxiety.Who knew?
- Obviously I ate too much. But I didn’t routinely overeat. I didn’t binge. I actually was learning that whole time about eating healthier whole foods. I explored paleo, raw, vegetarian, and even vegan diets. They all have benefits–and some really great-tasting recipes! ( I don’t follow any of those specific diets.) During this time I also explored the thought processes of Mindful Eating and HAES (Health at every size.) I don’t think that these two lines of thought were particularly helpful to me.
- I do think that there is a huge component of your body wanting to return to homeostasis (its own version of normal.) This is not a popular view, because it means we are not exactly in complete control of what is happening to us.
Right now, here’s what I think happened to me. I lost 100 pounds. That did not even get me close to a “normal BMI” (a number I don’t pay attention to any more.) Still, it was a 40 percent reduction in what my body had come to consider normal. My life was stressful, and even though I had been maintaining a weight loss for several years, I had not truly addressed the emotional component of it. I consider this to be one of the most helpful aspects of my journey. And I believe that there was a component of my body fighting for homeostasis. That large of a weight loss was perceived as abnormal by my body. That is why there is a lot of talk about POW’s (Previously Over Weight) having to be super-vigilant about what they eat. It ISN’T the same for us. During the time I regained the 25 pounds, there were also numerous attempts to lose the weight. Obviously none were ultimately successful.
(Last November, at 180 pounds. Notice the skillful camouflage LOL.)
I am hopeful that now my body has accepted this “new” weight as normal (after six years!) and that that is why I am currently having more success at continual weight loss than I have in the past three years. Does that make any sense? So if I am “successful” and make it to my new low goal of 140 pounds (a 22 percent reduction in my weight,) and I am correct in my assumptions, I can also be sure that my body will fight that loss as well, and that I might have a little rebound weight.
And so it goes…
To read more about “through thick and thin,” be sure to check out my friends and maintaining experts:
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!