Many people that are trying to lose weight give up when they see that they aren’t losing weight as quickly as they think they should be (e.g. after a few weeks). This often leads to either all out food binges from the ‘sod it I’ve failed’ attitude or jumping from one diet to the next because they THINK they are not getting results. This is a shame because it is only when you stick to something long term in a sustained way that you will see sustained results. The reality is that unfortunately, without putting in the effort and discipline it is not going to happen. For example, a person who is several stones overweight has probably accumulated the extra body fat over a period of years. It would not be realistic to expect that fat to disappear over a few weeks, nor would it be healthy to achieve it in a matter of weeks!
First and foremost weight loss is NOT linear. Some weeks the scales will show that you have lost weight and other weeks the scales won’t change, but this doesn’t mean you haven’t lost fat. For example women’s weight is influenced by many factors such as fluid fluctuations, hormonal changes, estrogen levels etc. In addition, hormones fluctuate during a woman’s menstrual cycle often leading to feeling fuller around the thighs, hips and bottom. Therefore a woman may be holding on to water but still losing body fat at the same time but due to the mentioned factors the fat loss may not be represented on the scales. Aside from this, you can’t expect to look considerably different in a matter of weeks, but in months you can, and that’s why in order to get LONG TERM results you have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
Realistically women on a weight loss plan will lose on average 10kg of fat over 12 months (if done in a healthy way). That might not sound a lot to some people, but there is no such thing as quick fixes! Steady weight loss is the most sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off with lower risk of rebounding and putting the weight right back on, and research shows that people who lose weight at a steady pace are more likely to keep it off.
Another factor to keep in mind is that weight loss WILL slow down at some point. The higher your initial starting weight (body fat) the more quickly you are probably INITIALLY going to see a drop in fat. Once your body fat becomes lower, weight loss will slow down naturally as the body tries to conserve energy because less energy is required for the lower body weight to function. At this point it is tempting for many people to start reducing calories too low or doing endless amounts of cardio. Although you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, sustainable weight loss will not be achieved on a diet that is too low in calories and/or excess cardio. This will only set the body up for fat storage rather than the other way round. When the body is not getting enough energy from calories from food, it first starts to break down its own fat (hence why there is an initial weight loss), but then it will tap into muscle (hence the gaunt look), as well as effecting systems of the body such as hormones, reproductive organs, immune and digestive. You may initially achieve weight loss but guaranteed you will put it straight back on within a few months (and often more weight), due to hormonal damage from excess dieting as well as the body conserving of energy in fear of future ‘starvation’ diets.
Don’t fall victim to the short term quick fix diets and get off that merry go round once and for all. Losing weight takes time, but if you stay consistent, committed and REALISTIC, the results will be long term!
Ann-Marie is a Registered Nutritionist (BSc MSc RNutr). For qualified professional dietary advice email firstname.lastname@example.org