The hard truth about weight loss

February 26, 2009 at 4:40 am 7 comments

As great as my weight loss success has been, I frequently get discouraged by how long it has taken and how hard I still have to work to keep the pounds off. Shows like “The Biggest Loser” and magazine covers featuring women who’ve lost hundreds of pounds in a few months… rather than inspiring me, they bum me out because they make me feel like my results are not good enough.

So I was actually happy to read MSNBC’s “Forget low-fat — calories count more in dieting”. It provides details on a federal study that followed participants for two years and really confirms what I know to be true – as much as TV and magazines want to convince me otherwise.

1. Calories count. It doesn’t matter how you lower them – by cutting out carbs or fat or whatever; they just have to be lowered. The bottom line is that you’re not going to lose weight unless you consume fewer calories (or burn a bunch of them off through extremely high levels of exercise).

2. It takes a l-o-n-g time to lose a relatively small amount of weight. We don’t want to hear it; we are SUCH an instant gratification culture. In this study, participants lost an average of 13 pounds in six months. Most people I know would be disappointed instead of happy.

3. Chances are, the weight’s gonna come back. “…all groups saw their weight creep back up after a year. At two years, the average weight loss was about 9 pounds while waistlines shrank an average of 2 inches. Only 15 percent of dieters achieved a weight-loss reduction of 10 percent or more of their starting weight.”

I have been doing this for six and a half years, maintaining 117 pounds off. Sometimes, I’ve lost a bit more, sometimes a bit less. But, overall I have maintained – and continuously exercised – for an extended period of time. It’s taken a tremendous effort, and it’s still really, really difficult. This study is affirming. Whew! I don’t have to be so hard on myself! I am doing a terrific job, considering the odds are clearly against me. Based on this good news, I’m giving a shout-out to myself… and a reminder to be gentle, patient and understanding when I struggle.


Entry filed under: burn more calories, coping strategies, news around the blogosphere, science, Weight Loss Philosophy.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dieting for Weight Loss  |  February 26, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Good and informative . This post really helps in getting the knowledge on how to take care of the meals and the protein food we eat to maintain a proper diet and the ideas of doing regular exercise.

  • 2. Charley  |  February 26, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Great post, loosing weight isnt easy but you can do it! 🙂

  • 3. Hannah  |  February 27, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Great blog and hope to have time soon to come back and read some more! xx

  • 4. jennifer  |  February 28, 2009 at 5:28 am

    I have loved reading your stuff. I have tried every weight loss diet, pill, gimmick under the sun and have done nothing but GAIN! Over the last 3 months, I have changed my eating (still not excellent but 110% better than ever) and I have been working out with a trainer 3 times a week. I still have not lost, but I haven’t gained either. I am VERY frustrated, but reading your blog has helped me remember that it WILL come off, I just have to cut those calories more and up the exercise. Maybe I really can do it???

  • 5. Alice  |  February 28, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Heh, that makes me feel better. I lost 90 lbs in a year and managed to easily keep it off a year. The following year it’s been harder though (I feel like I have to try as hard as I did dieting just to keep it from creeping back).

    And yeah, I’ve always felt it was common sense that you have to eat less calories than you burn and any working diet works cause it some how manages to either make you burn more, or eat less. But no diet will work if you eat more than what you are burning (so no matter how much they claim they’ll up your metabolism you can’t just eat whatever you want like some claim. You still have to keep tabs).

    And yeah, I lost mine by calorie counting. I find when people find that out, they go, “Oh” cause they were hoping I had some miracle way that didn’t involve the old fashioned way of watching what you eat.

  • 6. Joe  |  March 7, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I like your blog. I have probably heard about fad diets like Atkins, South Beach or the Cabbage Soup diet. Many of these diets can’t be sustained without endangering your health. Keep it up.


  • 7. Angelika  |  June 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    First of all, you should be proud of yourself regardless of how long it took you to loose the weight! It’s gone now, so kudos for you for persisting long enough!!
    I do have to disagree with you on the calorie front, though. Calorie count only matters as far as “where they come from” is concerned. If you’re eating healthy unrefined foods then calorie count is unnecessary. But if one eats beef burgers for breakfast, lunch and supper and has sweets in between, then they’d better watch out because they are exceeding their daily allowance. Now, I know people who believe that lowering calorie intake regardless of where it comes from will let them loose weight and be healthy. Now, that’s dangerous, because a person like that will eat the gimmick snack of 100 calories, where all that there is in this snack comes from sugar (so called empty calories). Then they will follow that with a serving of jello and some other questionable snacks. What they don’t realize is that it would do them much better to eat a salad with grilled chicken which might have more calories than their jello, but which also has NUTRIENTS.
    Myself, I am a proponent of reasonable portion sizes instead and eating 5-6 times a day.
    Anyway, that’s just my 2 cents.

    Good job!


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