I initially did lose a few kg… but I’m here now back to my usual weight. I need to go back on a diet again… I’m fat now.
Believe it or not, you are facing the same fate as a lot of people do nowadays, weight cycling, or what we call, yo-yo dieting. This phenomenon is basically what happens when a person tries to consciously lose weight, but ended up gaining back MORE weight after months.
When this happens repeatedly for cycles over time, this can be worse than being fat itself. Because you only get fatter as each cycle passes by.
5 reasons why this happened to you?
1. You are on a “diet”
Diet is like a “quick fix”, x-months transformation program that guarantees you results or goals. You feel driven to go on a “diet” because you want to lose off that weight within this timeframe. But the timeframe may be the cause of weight cycling for most people.
When you start on a diet program, your motivation feel skyrocketed for days, weeks or lesser. The salad bowls that you started your diet program with, are now the old usual foods you ate. High in carbohydrates, high in fats, low in fibre. Or else, what happens after that X amount of months?
That’s right. You revert back to your normal diet. And you regain your weight.
Bear in mind that unconsciously, you are likely to eat more and binge after a “diet” if you notice, because of hormonal changes and psychological suppression a “diet” imposed on you. This amount of binge and overcompensation will inevitably lead to rapid weight regain.
2. You eat way too little
What? I gained weight because I ate too little? You must be joking. Does it even mean that I have to eat more to lose weight? The answer is maybe. But in a different way.
Appetite and hunger are some of the many ways your body maintain your body weight at a certain set point. Ever wondered why you get to maintain your weight around the same number all year round? It is not a miracle by any means, your body tells you how much to eat and when to eat. So today when you are trying to eat a piece of cucumber for lunch instead of that McDonald’s value meal, it is not surprising that your body will react by spamming you hunger messages in the brain. This is why you are tempted to go binge eating during a “diet”.
Discipline and motivation will only keep you so far. Days, weeks, or months. Fighting against your body’s hunger signals is very futile, simply because they are designed to make you follow the signals. Eat that cheesecake now you are very hungry. Even if you can fight them for months, are you going to do it for years? For the rest of your life? Probably not if you’re sane.
Hence when people are on a diet, they rapidly eat more and binge more than before because they are simply “very hungry” on a diet. Moreover, eating too little all of a sudden creates a state of “perceived starvation” by your body. Your body is more likely to store fats as fuel in anticipation of famine, so it is also counterproductive in that sense. Duh, of course your body doesn’t know that you’re on a diet, it only knows that you are not giving it food.
Eating too little also deprives your body of vital nutrients that are supposed to help you lose weight indirectly, such as energy to exercise or enzymes to function optimally.
3. You lost weight with “motivation”
This is very similar to point number 1. Motivation is what happens when there’s a beach party in the year end and you needed to look good to impress the person you admire; when you woke up realising that you have a big belly that makes you look ugly. It gets you started to sign up for a gym, find a doctor or etc. However, it is not the “thing” that will get you to DO what’s needed to improve yourself DAY BY DAY.
Why? Because motivation is short-lived. It doesn’t last long. It is only meant to get you started, like an engine starter. If you were only driven to lose weight through motivation, you bet at some point you will lose it and go back to your old usual habits. Why? Because life happens. You need to start fetching kids to schools, your company had a big project you need to rush for. Whatever it is.
4. You don’t have a backup plan
Exactly. You expect a meal plan from a trainer/nutritionist to follow like a robot so that you can lose fat easily, quickly and permanently. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Foods are not medicines that you can just eat the same every day.
Failing to prepare for any urgent scenarios means that you are preparing to fail. You need a backup plan in case you’re not going the restaurant you’re supposed to go, or having no time to go back home for home-cooked dinner tonight. Alternatives are important because life is not a straight line. When you don’t have a backup plan in place, it is extremely easy for you to fall off track and everything goes back to square from there.
5. You don’t know that your body hates being slim
At this point you might be curious why it’s easier to stay fat but not stay slim. Whilst one of the major factors is definitely environmental food availability, our genetics is definitely also one strong factor. There is a “thrifty gene hypothesis” that explains why our body tends to keep us fat.
Because in past centuries our ancestors used to face famine every now and then, and those who tend to stay fat survived the longest as they have most fuel store to sustain through periods of starvation. Hence, your body may dislike being slim, and will do its best to keep you fat. No, your body is not trying to make you ugly. It just feels that you are most likely to survive if you’re fat.
Now, what’s the solution? How do I lose weight without going on a diet? Am I supposed to eat more? All of these sounds counterintuitive. Stay tuned to our next post we discover more on the HOW’s after the WHY’s. Leave us a message and get your doubts clarified if you have any !