Last week I was listening to NPR and heard a really interesting discussion on weight loss based on a New York Times Magazine article called “The Fat Trap” written by Tara Parker-Pope. Since I was in and out of the car I only heard portions of the radio show, but I came home and read the article.

At first I found it so disheartening I wasn’t going to share it, but then I thought that if knowledge is power it might actually be helpful and there are aspects of the article that are very interesting. It discusses just how difficult it is to maintain weight loss. If you struggle with maintaining your weight you’ll either find the article frustrating because it explains why it is so hard and there is not much you can do about it or comforting because it helps explain why you might be having difficulty.

I have to question the science a little (which might provide some hope). Most of the studies put people on extremely low (and I would argue unhealthy) calorie diets to lose weight fast. While the article briefly touched on this at the end, I suspect that results might be different for people making small, slow changes. Eating 550 calories a day might enable you to lose weight fast, but it seems like it would obviously throw your body into some level of starvation mode. Dropping your normal intake of calories by 100 per day may make it take longer to lose weight, but it’s a healthier way to get there. And I can’t help but wonder if all the research results would be different for slower weight loss.

People infrequently gain 50 pounds in six months. Why should anyone expect to lose it that quickly? Weight creeps on. We need to be more realistic with ourselves and allow it to creep off.

Still, the article provides a lot of interesting information about what our body is doing when we lose weight and how our brains work when we have cravings after weight loss. For me it seems like if you know ways your body might work against you, you can be prepared and have a better shot at finding ways you can work around our basic biology.
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