Your Weight Regain Is Not Your Fault

If you lost weight and then gained it back, you're not to blame. In fact, you're part of the vast majority of dieters.I hear a lot of stories, sometimes from people actually trying to defend the diet industry,  where the person lost weight in the short term, but then gained it back.  Their story is that they  “lost will power” or they “started to feel like it was ok to stop counting every bite of food” etc. They blame themselves for “falling off the wagon.”

I’m here to tell you – if you lost weight for a while and then gained it back, you’re not to blame. In fact, you’re part of the vast majority of dieters. Research shows us that the vast majority of people of lose weight gain it all back within 5 years (with many gaining back more than they lost.)

Here’s what happened. For a little while you succeeded in feeding your body less fuel than it needed, leading to it consuming part of itself and becoming temporarily smaller. But because your body is hard-wired for survival, and starvation is a contraindication to survival, your body took over and engaged it’s defenses which include everything from lowering your metabolism, and losing muscle to lower your fuel needs, to changing your hormones to make you hungry all the time, and stop you from feeling satiated.

Only a tiny percentage of people succeed at long-term significant weight loss, and many of those people lead lives based around food and exercise behaviors that are indistinguishable from the behaviors that are considered red flags for eating disorders.

Weight regain isn’t your fault, it’s what was always going to happen (and what will likely continue to happen if you keep dieting, though the initial weight loss may become less and the weight regain might start faster.) Selling diets has become a 60 B…B..B…Billion dollar industry, built on a model that understands the biology of weight loss attempts, and depends on the repeat business that the realities of that biology create.

The diet industry lies to us and they have no shame about it. So we can have no shame in walking away from them.

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6 thoughts on “Your Weight Regain Is Not Your Fault

  1. “Only a tiny percentage of people succeed at long-term significant weight loss, and many of those people lead lives based around food and exercise behaviors that are indistinguishable from the behaviors that are considered red flags for eating disorders.”

    And I want to point out that being in the latter category will NOT guarantee you a spot in the former. Some people loyally trudge away on the diet treadmill their whole lives, model dieters… except for the part where they hardly lose any weight, regain anything they do lose near-immediately, and get quietly shoved out of sight because they don’t fit the diet + exercise = thin, gluttony + laziness = fat narrative society wants to promote. Indeed, I was one of these people, and it was regaining while still dieting- no “loss of willpower,” no “falling off the wagon,” no midnight bingeing on [insert your favorite food here]- that sent me in search of the hard facts on weight science, funnily enough, with the goal of finding out what I was “doing wrong.” Turns out what I was doing wrong was believing in dieting and fitness culture. Diet + exercise = thin? Gluttony + laziness = fat? Bullshit. It’s bullshit. And the people promoting it know that.

  2. It happened to me when I joined the gym – no attempt to lose weight by starvation, and the aim of the gym wasn’t to lose weight. I developed a serious health problem, my time in gym is now restricted by doctors, and by the extreme fatigue as a result of the cancer. And a little voice in my head still tells me it all my fault. 😦

  3. It was this exact evidence that had me decide to never diet again. I had been looking for some scientific diet study that worked and couldn’t find a one. I know that 30 years of dieting is the reason I have no gallbladder (weight cycling can lead to the formation of stones) and that I am at least 80 pounds more than I would have been had I never tried to starve myself smaller. More weight always came with the regain cycle (10, 15 or more). I have maintained my size/weight with normal fluctuations for over five years now by just feeding myself and caring for my needs. That feels like a true accomplishment.

  4. Used to be doctors thought they were “GODs” do as I say, I’m right, you’re wrong. Now it is some jerk working for the diet companies. They know they are creating a lifetime of repeat customers, they bought their yacht (s) with your money. If ANY of these ‘fool proof-life style change-use what you have-it’s fun and easy-a little anorexia never killed anyone” plans really did what they said, for the majority of users, they’d be broke. No New York loft, no Mercedes, no European vacations, no stadiums named for them, no yacht (s)….

  5. Thank you Ragen, for tirelessly repeating the evidence. I once managed to keep a lower weight for four years, but during the pregnancy my body decided enough was enough. I stabilised at quite exactly my weight before ever starving myself. And duh, more stamina, less stomach ache, better strength. Astonishing, what ist possible with enough food.

    Still there is that voice, how good I could look, how I managed it once before… I read you for an antidote. And my mantra to diet ads is “I am not ruining my health and quality of life”.

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