There’s quite a lot of online information about weight-loss available. But almost nothing about long-term maintenance of that weight-loss. One could conclude that people who have successfully maintained a large weight-loss for 5 plus years simply lose interest in the process and move on to other interests. However, this doesn’t appear to be the most likely conclusion.
First, all available research indicates that less than 5% of all successful dieters actually maintain lost weight for two years after a large weight-loss. If one chose to use the numbers of the National Weight Loss Registry (of which I am a member), this total number would be a fraction less than 1%.
Next, two years is not really an exceptionally long time. When I see someone who reports success at weight-loss, I mentally say… “Yeah, come talk to me in 5 years … or 8 years.”
People losing weight tend to post frequently and make themselves highly visible. People gaining weight tend not to report that fact. Almost no one who has a very-large weight-loss, reports their maintenance numbers after the first few years of maintenance.
The highly-visible, online personalities who blog about their large weight-losses, tend to disappear a year or two after their success. I’ve followed a few of these bloggers with interest as they lost weight, thinking perhaps THIS person will be an exception… that perhaps THIS person will report a successful long-term maintenance of their large weight-loss, however, …thus far… I’ve found no exceptions.
Two notable long-term bloggers which I’ve followed, “Pasta Queen” and “This Is Not A Diet – it’s my life”, were quite successful at weight-loss, and both of them … despite their efforts at maintenance, after a year or two began regaining lost weight. Both of these bloggers indicate that, during early maintenance, when they developed some specific physical problems, they re-evaluated their lives and decided that a focus on diet and weight was not something they wanted to continue working to sustain.
Both of these bloggers admitted to approximately a 50 lb gain, but then chose to stop reporting on weight-issues. From online photographs, it would appear that since that time, both bloggers have regained additional lost weight…. but as of this date…perhaps not more than half of their original amount. One, and possibly both, of these specific bloggers have embraced the “Health at Every Size” concept, which involves Intuitive Eating practices… letting one’s body tell them what, when and how much to eat. I, personally, am very curious as to whether …over time…the Set Point Theory will apply to either one of these people. If so, the bodies of each of them would lead them to regain ALL of their lost weight back to their highest Set Point, which is probably somewhere around their highest weights. This might not be a personal problem for them as they appear to have embraced the Fat Acceptance concept, valuing their health and comfort over vanity.
Unfortunately, at present, neither of these bloggers are volunteering that information. Perhaps a few years after a total weight-regain, within a “Fat Acceptance” blog, one or both of them MIGHT make such an informational choice. Quite a few other Fat Acceptance bloggers have reported similar histories.
I, personally, continue to have a need to avoid experiencing the fat bias that comes when one fails to meet the minimum cultural standards for female attractiveness, and I have chosen to continue my personal weight-maintenance struggle. I’ve always been healthy, at every weight. I’ve have found this to be true for many people, and never believed that Health and Obesity go hand in hand. I agree with the basic concept that people can be healthy at every size. Unlike the courageous blogger, “Dances with Fat”, my choice is to continue giving our culture’s fat-biased-bullies my lunch money in the hopes that they won’t beat me up.
From the past through the present, I’ve worked very hard at trying out a great many different diets and eating plans, however, so far…. the only behaviors which have managed to stick long enough to become habitual, are consistently logging in my food every day, and managing to keep my calorie averages – over time – down.
This has still resulted in me taking in more than my body can use. For the first two years or so, after first arriving at my 115 lb goal weight, I was able to maintain without a significant upward creep by eating around 1200 calories. After about two-and-a-half years of maintenance, my weight began to creep upward, a few pounds per year … even with a 150 calorie intake reduction down to the mid 1000 calorie average range. This past calendar year (2013), my detailed daily food records show that during the entire year, I’ve eaten a 1020 daily calorie average, … but instead of only gaining a couple of pounds… over the entire year I gained 10 more pounds. This brings me up a total of 20 pounds above my 115 lb goal weight.
I’ve consistently chosen to record food details and restrict calories even when experimenting with different food plans, working to keep my daily calorie average within the mid-1000 calorie range.
During 2013 I spent several long time periods experimenting with eating low-carb. Each time my weight dropped about 7 lbs initially, then plateaued. I’ve been personally unable to adapt to long-term, low-carb eating, and after 3 months or so, I resumed eating a “balanced” diet near the same daily calorie level (around 1020). Within about a month, all of that lost weight returned (so I judge the entire loss to have been water weight). Plus, at the end of every low-carb experiment, I wound up weighing a pound or two higher… despite eating approximately the same calories Before, After, and During those experiments.
Due to an injury that took place long ago, I have a long-term problem with my right leg/thigh/back which is currently limiting my exercise abilities. When I move around “too much” I find I need to walk with a cane. Not unusual for someone who will turn 70 at the end of this year. I had to give up using the free-style Gazelle (elliptical) because it aggravated my right leg/thigh/back soreness, but I am still able to walk on the Treadmill … rather slowly… for between 5 to 20 minute time periods.
I’m still not willing to give up my struggle to maintain my past weight-loss, even though my weight continues to climb. This morning my weight is 135.4 lbs. I’ve recently begun – again -- working toward trying to decrease my daily calorie average an additional 100 calories via a 3 meal / zero snack eating pattern. This is a behavior pattern that I believe would be extremely effective if I were able to sustain it long-term, which is … unfortunately… something I’ve never yet been able to accomplish .. but maybe this time.
I’ve researched the issues very carefully, for a long period of time. Here at DietHobby (See ARCHIVES) I’ve written quite a few articles discussing the various BMR/RMR formulas which can be easily accessed with online calculators. All of those formula calculations are merely AVERAGES, and it is common for obese or reduced obese people to fall far lower than the average. The formula STANDARD deviation is at 14%...(based on the limited number of individuals who were in the original research studies) … which is acceptable statistically, but when put into practice, this can reflect quite a large individual difference.
Furthermore, research exists indicating that a ‘reduced obese’ person of “normal” weight consistently burns about 15% less while doing the same activities, than a person of the same age/height/weight who has always been “normal” weight, so it is more than reasonable to conclude that a “reduced obese” person’s basic formula numbers would be 15% below the calculated formula averages.
Some people might be shocked to see a comparison chart I’ve prepared based on my own age/height/weight data.
The following chart is based on the numbers for a 5 ’0” tall, 69 year old, sedentary woman.
If these numbers are accurate this means:
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