Why You Cannot Be on a Diet Forever

Recapping Weeks 13 and 14 of Kathie J. and Larry’s weight loss journey

With Holly Wyatt, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center

I can’t believe it’s already Week 14 — it seems like we just started! Looking at Larry and Kathie J., you’d think more time had passed. They seem happier and they have really become new people in how they think and what they do. It’s so cool to see their transformation. They are really starting to feel like State of Slimmers.

In Weeks 13 and 14, we are setting them up for their forever journeys. Since they started losing weight, I told them they had to begin with the end in mind. Now, here we are.

Week 13 is about paying it forward — helping others to help yourself keep the weight off. Keep following Kathie J. and Larry to see how they’re inspiring others to follow them on their path.

We talk about State of Slim forever in Week 14. It’s Chapter 9 in State of Slim that addresses the difference between weight loss and weight loss maintenance. A lot of people don’t understand this difference, and it’s one of the biggest reasons I see people regain the weight. These are people who will successfully lose 20 pounds but gain it all back because they only focused on losing the weight and not keeping it off. They re-lose the weight, then regain it, in that up-and-down pattern we call the yo-yo.

Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance are Different

What you do to lose the weight and what you do to keep it off are not exactly the same thing. Being in weight loss is like swimming up a river and weight maintenance is like treading water. If you try to swim upriver forever, you will get super tired — so tired that you will lie on your back and float back down the river (i.e., you gain back all the weight). Instead, you need to learn to stay in place in the river once you lose the weight. That’s Week 14: understanding the difference between the two, and the behaviors associated with maintenance.

No one I work with in my clinic is ever ready to go into maintenance — and it’s no different with Kathie J. and Larry. People always want to lose a little more. But scientific studies show us that six months is about the max that most people can lose weight (there are some exceptions). After about six months, you will get so tired of being in a negative energy balance, of restricting your diet, that it will start to backfire: Your body will fight back and so will your mind.

Instead, spend about two to three months maintaining your weight. When you feel strong again, you could try losing again.

Your Takeaway: If catch yourself wanting to stay in weight loss, but you’re getting tired, you’re wondering if this is working, and you’re getting frustrated, it may be time to move into weight-loss maintenance. Remember: What you’re doing for weight loss is not something you can do forever; it’s something you do for a short period of time.

We’re almost to the end of Kathie J. and Larry’s journey, but don’t stop following them yet! They are working on paying it forward, so stay tuned to see what special gifts they have for people following in their path.

Follow and support Larry and Kathie J.

Learn more about the State of Slim at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center