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If there is scientific evidence, why is it “my fault”

How many of you out there have heard (or thought for that matter!) that your inability to maintain or achieve weight loss is your fault?  That you must be doing something wrong, that you’re not disciplined enough or diligent enough?  I know I have - over and over my whole life - from friends and strangers - and quite frankly I’m really sick and tired of it.  I keep hearing (and reading) that “it’s as simple as calories in/calories out and all you need to do is eat less and move more and you’ll be thin!”  This statement is utilized to reinforce this feeling of failure and guilt when one doesn’t succeed - but this statement is not even vaguely scientifically sound!  Our bodies are complex living organisms with millions of functions happening at once and tons of chemical and biochemical reactions going on all the time, they are not simple internal combustion engines, and even those have the efficiency of their conversion of fuel to power output affected by things like  temperature, humidity, pressure and friction - so riddle me this, why would ANYONE think that the human body would operate more simply then a basic internal combustion engine?

Beyond all that,  there is significant scientific evidence that shows that it’s a natural biological response in the human body to maintain or even increase body weight in response to a decrease in calories and/or increase in activity.  Think about that for a second…. When you viciously cut down on your caloric intake in order to lose weight - your body responds by trying to avoid losing weight.  Your body is programed to avoid death (which in my opinion is a good thing, ya know, generically speaking) - and a sudden decrease in caloric intake is interpreted as starvation - which your body would kind of like to avoid.

For example, an Australian research team studied people who had lost weight in an effort to understand some of these changes. (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1105816) A year after their initial weight loss they found that:

  • A hormone that suppresses hunger and increases metabolism – Leptin – was still lower than normal
  • Ghrelin, nicknamed the “hunger hormone,” was about 20 percent higher
  • Peptide YY, a hormone associated with hunger suppression was abnormally low
  • Participants reported being much more hungry and preoccupied with food then they had prior to losing weight

A year after losing weight these people’s bodies were still biologically different than they had been prior to the weight loss attempt.  Their bodies where desperately working to regain the weight – and participants had already regained about 30% of the weight they had lost.  One of the study’s authors characterized it as “A coordinated defense mechanism with multiple components all directed toward making us put on weight.”

So… tell me again how it’s simply a lack of discipline on my part that is the reason I haven’t permanently lost weight?

 
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