July 8

the psychology of long term weight loss

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Unfortunately the data on maintaining weight loss over the long term is very, very bleak!

 

Why is that?

 

Well, there are some very real physical changes that happen when we start to reduce our calories.

 

Our brains do start to fight back.

 

The reason for this is because, back in the day when food was scarce, calories equaled survival!

 

When we eat foods that are high in calories we actually get a lovely big dopamine response from the brain, this is to reward us so that we seek out high calorie foods more often.

 

|t was designed to be really, really helpful but of course is totally counter productive for us now.

 

If you haven’t read ‘The Hungry Brain’ by Dr Stephan Guyenet then I would strongly recommend it.

 

He was also a guest on my podcast, FlatWhite Episode 5;

 

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/flat-white-ep-05-why-we-get-fat-with-dr-stephan-guyunet/id1451178019?i=1000443682851

 

Not only does our brain fight back but our body does too.

 

Our hunger hormone is ramped up and our satiety hormone decreases.

 

We also become more ‘efficient’, burning less calories for doing the same physical tasks.

 

These adaptations can prevent weight loss.

 

This is why I have been advocating diet breaks.

 

Alternate your periods in a calorie deficit with periods of just maintaining your weight.

 

Have a decent period eating at maintenance calories and you can help offset these adaptations.

 

The other reason that maintaining weight loss is so difficult is because of the stories we tell ourselves.

 

The identity that we have.

 

Our behaviours relate to what we believe about ourselves.

 

Our outcomes are produced by our habits,

 

Our habits are produced in the long term by our identity.

 

If the identity we have is in conflict with the habits we are trying to practice then we will struggle.

 

For example, if you are ‘a runner’, you probably own decent running shoes, maybe belong to a running group, buy running magazines etc..

 

It is not difficult for you to get yourself out for a run – because you are a runner!

 

If you are looking to lose weight but your identity is still that of someone who ‘has always been overweight and struggled with food’ then it is going to be hard to instil new behaviours.

 

Change the message you tell yourself.

 

Instead of, ‘I am fat and have always been fat’ try

 

‘I am someone who is working towards a healthier future’

 

Instead of, ‘I have no self control and can’t have chocolate (or whatever) in the house’ try

 

‘I have a history of struggling with this food but I am working on my habits and in control of my destiny’

 

‘I used to be someone who had a shitty relationship with food but now I am putting the necessary things in place in order to change my life’

 

The sooner you start talking to yourself in a new identity, the sooner you’ll be able to start building those habits.

 

The sooner you’ll be able to crack open that psychology barrier you are facing,

 

that is preventing you from losing weight for good!

 


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