I happened to run across this new article today.
If you have lost weight or are in the process of losing weight, I HIGHLY recommend that you read it. It matters little to the rest of the world, I suppose, but for those of us who fight the daily battle, it means OH SO MUCH.
If you don’t have the time to read it, or will get to it later, read on for my thoughts. This discussion coincidentally coincides with a blog post I did recently about the challenges of maintaining massive weight loss and how the body fights against the loss and does everything in its power to make you regain. This recent study once again affirms that.
As I’ve mentioned many times, I don’t watch The Biggest Loser, but these researchers did a study on participants from Season 8. Why season 8 as opposed to other seasons? Who knows, but I’m sure the results would be the same whichever season they chose.
Almost everyone that they profiled from that season who had lost an amazing amount of weight, improved their health and got fit - well, they’ve gained at least some if not most of the weight back. But rather than look at this as a group of people who fell back into old behaviors or judging them for their regain, the researchers set out to find out the WHY.
Holy crap - I guess I knew a lot of what they were going to find, and the reasons for it, but reading what the actual evidence showed, what the researchers said and seeing testimonials from the people... I was totally not prepared for the way this article hit me emotionally. To the point where I started crying - could I be more pathetic LOL?
Like other research on the subject of obesity, the researchers found that the contestants who lost weight started out with “normal” metabolisms, but after their loss burned a startling less amount of calories than other people who are their same size and weight. The winner of that year - who lost 240 pounds and has regained about 100 pounds since - was found to burn burns 800 calories less per day!!
One of the women, who is much smaller and younger? She still burns 591 less calories per day than a “normal person” her size.
The researchers also found that the contestants “constantly battled hunger, cravings and binges.” While everyone at the start of the season had normal levels of the hunger hormone - leptin, by season’s end they had virtually NO LEPTIN AT ALL. Which, in theory, would make a person “ravenous all the time.” Weight gain allowed them to regain some leptin, but only to about HALF of what they started with!!
The doctors involved with the study indicated that this research shows that “for most people, the combination of incessant hunger and slowing metabolism is a recipe for weight regain — explaining why so few individuals can maintain weight loss for more than a few months.” and “The difficulty in keeping weight off reflects biology, not a pathological lack of willpower...”
Yeah, that’s where I started to lose it emotionally. So it’s not completely my lack of self-control?
And then I saw what some of these people went through. One participant said “I used to look at myself and think, ‘I am horrible, I am a monster, subhuman,’” When sent home from the show, he quit his job in order to work out incessantly, constantly monitored his calories burned versus consumed, and was physically and mentally exhausted. He knew in his heart that he could never maintain this lifestyle and eventually started regaining - especially when he returned to “real life”.
The doctors that were involved in the study think that the answer to helping people both lose weight as well as preventing regain after loss will be finding a safe and effective way to introduce hormones that control hunger and also restore the body to a more normal state of being. To make us like “normal people”.
So what now? Like I said, this isn’t going to matter to most of the world who will continue to see fat people as lacking willpower and anyone who loses weight and regains as a failure. I WISH that I was strong enough of a person that I don’t care what other people think. But I’m not. Some of you out there certainly are, and I totally admire that!
While I can’t change what other people think, I have been working - with some success - on what I think of myself, and I think that I need to keep this article in mind. That seeing the amount that I’ve regained as not inevitable, but understandable, and what I’m fighting against is not just in my mind, but is a physical, biological reality. So if are like me and you get angry and beat yourself up, I hope that you will remember that, too.
What do you guys think about this article?