One thing I’ve already briefly mentioned in this blog but haven’t really defined is what I mean by weight loss being a “lifelong” journey.
Many would assume that once we hit our goal weight, the work is pretty much done. A little maintenance here and there and not getting back into the habit of scarfing milkshakes with every meal and we’re golden, right?
It’s not that easy.
You see, when you lose weight, your fat cells empty out, but they don’t go away. You keep them, like a little badge of honor, for the rest of your life. Those fat cells ALWAYS want to be filled back up. It’s their sole purpose in life – to be full of gooey yellow goodness. So, whenever you present them with even the slightest opportunity to replenish, they will do just that.
With this in mind, someone who has successfully lost a substantial amount of weight must always be conscious of their eating and exercise habits, as it will be easier for them to regain the weight than it would be for someone who has never had a weight problem.
It sounds simple enough. Keep eating a healthy diet. Keep exercising. Do both of these, and you’ll maintain.
Again, the problem goes deeper.
You see, most people with weight issues [both overweight and underweight] more than likely have those issues for a reason other than food tasting so delicious. Yes, all of us are guilty of overeating from time to time because it’s so mouth-wateringly delectable, but those who overeat more frequently – and sometimes without consciousness of their actions or control – face a much harder battle than defying their taste buds.
Their battle is emotional. Psychological. Ingrained and internal. Their addiction to food can be so deeply wired in their behaviors, it may take the rest of their lives to even pinpoint the cause of it, nonetheless cure it.
On top of that, the odds are against you in almost every way to lose weight:
- Fast food is cheap. How many dollar menus have a wide variety of salads on them?
- Healthy food is expensive. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats, are double their less healthy counterparts.
- Americans work LONG hours. Food has to be quick, convenient, and readily available.
- Gyms and personal trainers can be expensive.
Don’t believe me that it’s a hard world out there for someone trying to lose weight or maintain their weight loss? Check out this article from Cracked magazine.
For those of you who may not click on the article, here’s one of my favorite excerpts that pretty much defines my case:
“Well, just stop eating so much!” Sure, kid. To feel what it’s like, try this: Go, say, just 72 hours without eating anything. See how long it is until the starvation mechanism kicks in and the brain starts hammering you with food urges with such machine gun frequency that it is basically impossible to resist. That’s what life is like for a formerly fat person all the time. Their starvation switch is permanently on. And they’re not going 72 hours, they’re trying to go the rest of their lives. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s a breakdown of the science, in plain English. It’s like being an addict where the withdrawal symptoms last for decades.
I can attest to the following:
- I am ALWAYS hungry. Always. I can sit down to a meal and less than an hour later, be ready to do it again. There is a constant growl in my stomach which is often audible to those around me. I chug water, eat high fiber foods, ect – it doesn’t go away.
- I think about food most of the day. I think about what I had for breakfast, when I get to have a snack, what I might want for dinner, etc. There is a constant chain of thoughts parading through my brain about my next meal.
- My cravings can be paralyzing.
- I obsessively worry about my weight, my diet, and my exercise habits. If I know I cannot make it to the gym within 48 hours, I get antsy. If it’s going to be more than 3 days, I will start cancelling plans with friends, family, and work to ensure I get to the gym. I can’t control myself.
So, with all of that in mind, please understand that those of us with weight issues, even if our bodies don’t currently appear unhealthy from the outside, are constantly in a state of perpetual journey.
There is no miracle cure. There is no solution. To maintain my good health, I will always have to stand vigil over the food I eat, the exercise I do, and the habits that I create. And that is why this is my lifelong journey.