Why Weight is Regained and What To Do About It

How do you feel the moment you decide to lose weight - restrict your food intake or to eat “healthier”?

If you're like most people, you probably feel pretty good. Hopeful. In control. Powerful. Right?

Welcome to the first phase of the diet cycle - the weight loss phase.

You lose some weight. You believe this time will be different; this time you’ll keep the weight off, and you reaffirm that restricting is not that difficult. In fact, you will likely be able to eat this way forever. You feel invincible.

But sooner or later you will enter into the second phase of the diet cycle, the phase we seem to have amnesia about - the regain phase. And make no mistake, practically every single one of us will go there. Research confirms that only 2 to 5% of restrictors escape the regain phase.

What happens to the rest of us? 

The other 95 to 98% of us either pretend this second phase doesn’t exist, or we forget about it, or we believe we have the answer to avoid it. So we keep trying different versions of the same old thing. We live with the mantra, “I restricted and lost, and I can do it again." 

The actual experience of dieting creates addicts. As one engages in the diet, the need to diet is re-created and enforced.
— Carol Bloom

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this regain phase is that professionals also ignore it, and continue to recommend the weight loss phase as if you will have more than a 2% chance of succeeding. Indeed, professionals often prescribe diets as compulsively as dieter’s diet! 

Unfortunately, it is you, the ever faithful dieter, who gets blamed when weight is regained. And you probably also blame yourself.

But it is not your fault. NOT your fault. You need to believe this to escape the diet cycle.  

Did Weight Watchers inform you that you had a 2 to 5% chance of success with their program? That 98 out of a 100 will regain all lost weight within 2 years? And that of those 98, about 33 will end up much larger than when they walked in the doors?

No, they did not.

If you had to sign a release revealing those statistics before you joined the program, would you have signed up?

Unlikely.

Quit blaming yourself! The regain phase is biological. And even Weight Watchers can't help you avoid it. The regain phase is the body’s attempt at survival—the body screaming out for an end to this controlled semi-suicide. 

That’s right. Controlled semi-suicide. Your body knows it is not getting enough fuel to survive. This freaks the body out. It begins begging for fuel by causing food cravings, food preoccupation, and increased hunger and, eventually, binging.

You can numb the body for a while, but eventually, the body will free itself from this semi-suicide situation.

Hence, weight regain. Accckkkkkk!

You end up believing you are an out-of-control eater. You search out yet another food plan to control your eating. And you’re right back in the cycle. In fact, the cycle is quite addictive. 

Chronic dieting, paradoxically, strips women of the capacity for making self-determined, healthful choices about food and their nutrition. Dieting is not about health. It is about ill health. Dieting is a disorder in itself.
— Carol Bloom

Shift the blame from YOU, and begin blaming the food plans and restricting and “healthy eating” (in quotes because that phrase is usually code for low calorie eating). There is a better, and very different approach to managing food and eating. 

As you quit listening to external authorities, and begin listening to eating wisdom, you will begin to re-learn to eat when hungry and quit when satisfied! You will eat in response to your body's needs.

After years of controlled eating, your response might be: “What? If I ate everything my body wanted, I would be as big as a house.” 

But it is NOT the body that wants to keep eating. When you have eating enough, your body sends subtle signals that you have had enough. Then what does your mind do?  It counters with, “Oh, but it was so good, I want more.” Or “Well, I’ll eat less tomorrow, just eat it all now.” Or “I’ve really blown it, I’m terrible, I’m just going to keep eating.”

If you had been able to listen to and respond to your body’s signals of satisfaction, you would have quit eating! And isn't that what you want? To have control over your food, and the ability to easily quit eating when satisfied?

Ending the controlled semi-suicide of food restriction will heal food cravings, food preoccupation, and binging. Hunger will become manageable.

This intuitive eating will break you out of the diet cycle forever.