Hi gang, it seems as though I’ve been getting a lot of the same question in my health coaching sessions lately. People keep asking “Bobby, is it harder to lose the weight, or to keep it off?” The answer is both subjective and objective. The subjective answer is that everyone’s body and everyone’s experience is going to be different. People have different genetics, eating habits, schedules, stress levels, responses to exercise, etc. People also simply have different perceptions about what may be difficult and what may not be difficult.
For me losing weight wasn’t the hard part, in fact it was exciting and fascinating. The hard part was getting my mind right up until I was ready to lose the pounds. Once my mind was in the right space, the rest all fell into place. It’s easy for your body to lose the weight; it’s your mind that stands in the way. (I talk more about this in my upcoming book Lose Weight, Find Yourself: Six Steps to Having a Healthy Relationship with Food…Bite by Bite and Pound by Pound.)
Subjectively, if I had to choose one or the other as being a more difficult task, I’d have to say losing the weight was definitely more challenging. Keeping it off is easier (not easy, but easier) because it’s the “maintenance phase,” your weight loss goal has been met, and you’ve already crossed the finish line. The “maintenance phase” is all about keeping what you’ve worked so hard to obtain thus far. Once you’ve secured a certain amount of pounds lost, and your body is looking fantastic, you are less likely to slip in. I have become too proud of the way my body looks, and so too will you.
“It’s like riding a bike,” is a timeless phrase, and it’s true! There is a related concept called “muscle memory,” ever heard of it? Muscle memory is basically the blueprint your brain lays out for communication with your muscles. When you learn a new activity, you get better with time and training. This leads to a physiologic response, which allows you to continue performing certain activities without having to start all over again, and leads to quicker reaction times and more efficiency (even in cases where you have taken time off). Proprioceptors are specialized sensors found in joints, tendons, and muscles. Proprioceptors play a key role in muscle memory. Once signals from the brain create feedback pathways to and from proprioceptors, they can be accessed more readily over and over again. Muscle memory also extends to how muscles breakdown and repair themselves.
With that said, and because weight loss directly correlates to exercise, I would have to say that the objective answer to the question is that it’s (also) easier to keep the weight off, than to lose it. (Of course this does not take into account calorie consumption, or our eating issues. Which we know is a huge component, and probably our biggest hurdle when it comes to weight loss!)
So there you have my answer. Both subjectively (for me) and objectively, it’s easier to keep it off than to lose it.
What are your thoughts? Are you finding it more difficult to lose the weight, or are you struggling with keeping the weight off?
I’d love to hear from you, and would love to see your “before & after” pictures. Please share your story and your pics with us!