November 17th, 2017

Why Do Most People Gain The Fat Back?

The questions about how to lose fat are endless.  They are asked perpetually on facebook, in magazines, at the gym, in doctor’s offices, in schools, on podcasts, on talk shows. But ironically, the most important question we could be asking – the one that would make the most difference if it were answered and acted on – is not asked often enough, and it’s not even about how to lose fat – it’s about how to keep fat off.

Reliable (scientific) sources say that in the long-term, fat regain happens to 80% to 95% of all dieters, regardless of which program they follow!

Many diet gurus squabble over how their programs are supposedly superior, but those who are intellectually honest must ultimately confess that no program and no person is immune from the threat of relapse.

Are some programs healthier and more sustainable long term than others? Of course. But there is clearly more going on here than what foods are included or restricted during the fat loss phase.  The long term maintenance phase is another animal.

I have some ideas about why so many regain the fat, and this is going to be a major focus of my work in the years ahead. But instead of telling you what I think, today I’m asking for your opinion, and here’s why:

Every year I do a  survey and prize giveaway during Burn the Fat Challenge week, and the survey is a rare opportunity for me to do some real-world fitness (and psychology) research.

The responses I’ve gotten to previous surveys have been priceless. I could never get this kind of information and real-people feedback from textbooks or science journals and this information helps me as a coach.

This information helps you as well – especially if you have struggled with long term maintenance yourself. The blog comments section after previous surveys has been pure gold

Survey and random FREE PRIZE DRAWING

Answer my survey question in the comments below, and you will get entered in my free drawing for free books and memberships.

5 winners will be selected at random and each winner will receive:

A full One Year Membership to the Burn the Fat Inner Circle, and a personally signed hardcover copy of my book Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, shipped free anywhere in the world

Not only that, all winners will be eligible to enter the Burn the Fat Holiday Challenge body transformation contest* (optional.. but I think you should go for it!)

Here’s the specific question to answer:

Why do so many people regain the fat they lost?

Also, if you have ideas about why some people regain fat even though they followed a sensible and scientific program to lose it, those insights would be great to add to your answer.

If you’re one of the many people who have lost and regained, whether it was after a transformation contest, or any diet program, think  about it and tell us why you think it happened – your answer is valuable.

If you’re one of the successful few who have maintained for years, then consider how you kept that fat off, and reverse engineer the answer – your input is extremely valuable!

Go ahead and post your answer in the comments below.

Thanks for participating, good luck in the drawing, and I hope to see you in the Burn the Fat Challenge body transformation contest this week.

Train hard and expect success,

Your Friend and coach,

Tom Venuto
Author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle
Founder & CEO, Burn the Fat Inner Circle

PS. It’s Burn the Fat Challenge week right now.  This year’s Burn the Fat Holiday Challenge started on Friday, November 17th, 2017 and you can enter  this fitness contest until November 23rd. It’s motivating, it’s free to enter, and you can win great prizes too.  You can register for the contest free on this page:

PPS.  You don’t have to be a Burn the Fat Inner Circle member to enter the challenge.  However, this is a great time to  join because this week only, you can get a trial membership for only $1.00 Get details here:

THE MEMBERSHIP AND BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN!  Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey!  The winners of the random drawing (for a 1 year Inner Circle membership and a Signed book) are:

  1. Tara Port
  2. Jaime Stinson
  3. Robert Callahan
  4. John Henry Ellison
  5. Rob Amour

Congratulations to our winners! To collect your prizes, send an email to tomvenuto at earthlink dot net, write “I WON!” in the subject line, and be sure to include your postal shipping address for delivery of your book.

Blog Contest Terms/Rules/Restrictions:  Answer must be provided by posting a comment in the blog comments below, including your name (include at least your first name and last initial). Entries must be posted here on the blog. Entries must be received by Wednesday, November 22nd at 9:00 am (EST). Winners to be announced here on this blog in this post by end of day, Wed 22nd, 2017. Winners must contact Burn The Fat support to redeem prizes by providing postal address for hardcopy book delivery and email address for online membership delivery.


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105 Responses to “Why Do Most People Gain The Fat Back?”

  • Mark Collins

    It comes down to dedication and willpower. To keep weight off you need to work on developing your dedication and willpower which involves more than “just do it”! When i have lost and regained my weight it was because I faulted on one or the other. That involves more personal development than just following a diet for a period of time. Also you need to attach a significant reason to wanting to keep weight off more than looking good or even for health. It needs to be substantial and deeply ingrained into your personality. Easier said then done but necessary.

  • I think it all has to do with permanent habit change. You can change your methodology for the short term and see results (such as in a traditional “diet”), but unless the approach to fat loss involves true lifestyle change, deep alterations in your mindset about food and nutrition, and habitual maintenance of those changes, relapse is a given. That’s been the case with many of my personal training clients: if they can change their minds about what they eat, how much of it they, and why they eat it, they stand a much better chance of keeping their hard won improvements. Without that, once they start running under their own power, the wheels come off. It seems that’s exactly what happened with some of the Biggest Loser folks: nutrition and exercise changes driven by good planning and strict supervision resulted in success, but when they were left to their own “real life” devices, not so much. As a favorite saying of my states: “We don’t rise to the level of our aspirations, we fall to the level of our training (read: habits)”.

  • Roberta

    They lose the weight and feel great. Since it was a hard fought battle, they feel like they deserve a reward, so maybe at first it’s a cheat meal. People still tell them they look great so they deserve another cheat meal which can easily turn into a cheat day. After a while, they don’t remember how hard it was to lose the fat so they rationalize that the -now cheat week- is just a reward and they will get back on track on Monday. And so it begins right back down the slippery slope. The solution is to find something you absolutely love doing so that even if your diet falls off you can stay active and motivated in your workouts.

  • Hey, Tom

    Great question, and one I participate in every year as part of the National Weight Control Registry. Having lost 100 pounds in 2002, and returning to that weight after two children, I am perhaps more familiar with maintenance than loss. Some recent family events threw me off the past couple of years- from my father’s hospice care and death from cancer to a daughter’s mental illness, and financial upheaval, I found myself regaining.

    Yet, some things remain constant- my belief that health is critical, that I have the power to transform my body (always), and a healthier me leads to a healthier and happier family. And, my love for movement.

    This mindset keeps me returning to the BFFM principles. Here’s to a shining 2018!

  • Alison Smoot

    Quite simply, for me it was falling back into old habits. Granted, my habits now are much better, but I could still use more work. There are things that challenge me (stress, health, family) and divert my energy. But each time I fall less and less far from my goal. Each time it is easier and I am closer to my goal, but it is a constant learning process.

  • Heather

    Habit change and accountability (to yourself and your health) are huge! Need to create habit changes that work with your lifestyle to keep the weight off. Dig deep into the why you want to change and be honest with what is keeping you from making those changes. So many people seem to approach weight loss with a temporary mindset, we need to focus on sustainable changes that work in your real life.

  • Dana Barton

    Everyone is different. You need to find what works for you and change your way of thinking. It’s not a diet it’s a lifestyle. A major thing to look at is health problems. Having health problems can wreck havoc on your body and cause you to put the weight on. Focus on fixing your health problems by eating whole healthy foods your body so desperately needs to heal and repair itself and the weight will come off and stay off.

  • Roberta Faria

    I’ve lost and gained weight several times. I think the reason why it happens is I stumble when happens that emotionally triggers me to eat but I try to tell myself that it’s only for a day or a weekend. But what ends up happening is that it continues and spirals downward. And then you get dooon yourself and it becomes a vicious circle.

    Love your site. Thanks.

  • Every time I’ve lost and regained weight it’s been because the changes I had made were temporary. I slowly slipped back into the bad habits that caused me to gain weight in the first place. Now I’m focusing on permanent changes, made slowly over time, instead of thinking of it as a temporary “diet.” I’ve also had to carefully reflect on what changes I can actually live with and be satisfied. For example, limiting potato chips to weekend football games isn’t a big deal – I don’t miss munching on them every night – but I like to have a glass or two of wine with dinner. If I’m going to do that, then I need to make other changes to compensate. Ultimately, it takes true lifestyle changes to maintain weight loss, which means you need to do things that you can live with!

  • Connie

    I lost 107 lbs 15 yrs ago and have kept it off by realizing it’s up to me and no one else,and not making excuses for true facts,food will not solve any problems,and calories count,our bodies are made to use,we are responsible for ourselves,it’s a very freeing fact

  • adrianne ims

    1. Maintenance – still improving health. Off most medications and had solid training and nutrition habits in place. When training begins, nutrition falls into place and sleep is solid.

    2. On medications still had solid training and nutrition habits, and environment assisted, as I was forced to leave the house and walk many miles taking in the city sights.

    3. Depression, experience psychotic breaks, on medication and unable to enjoy the routine of training and nutrition, such medication have exasperated appetite and fall back into comma like lifestyle and unable to enjoy life – weight gain returns and usually more than what’s was reduced. Environment again, unable to leave the comfort of home or have the motivation to leave. However, making conscious effort in order to change such behaviour that serves no purpose. Never give up attitude.

  • jona o.

    Why do so many people regain the fat they lost?

    1) Do they really? Did they actually loose fat, before regaining weight? Or mostly water? Asking people for their opinion is hardly to provide valuable insights. Controlled measurements by trusted researchers would better approximate realistic answers to the bare facts. And then might possibly be correlated with hypothesised ‘reasons’.

    2) As for me, in 2014-2015 I made it to loose 12 kg weight, in 2014-2015 regained 6kg, and since 2015 remained at 61 kg (plus/minus 1) weight. I am monthly taking – as always quite imprecise – caliper fat estimates using 5 different formulas, of which the 7-point turned out equalling the mean value of all. The mean went up from 15% to 17% with a new caliper. I’m more or less constantly aware of my mean total caloric intake, and resist giving in too often to bingings and cravings. Which is not always easy, programmed as I am to let me be soothed by good and sweet stuff, and regularly longing for some form of soothing, indeed. Paleo did help for a year, but was too boring as is. Gradually more exercising has helped me turn attention away from food, and deliver its own form of soothing. I count on further progressing along this line.
    3) You’ve certainly made me curious about the hypothesis you’re after.

    • Tom Venuto

      Jona o. Yes most people do really gain back the fat and there is an enormous body of research on this in the peer reviewed literature. National Weight Control Registry in particular has done extensive work in this field for decades (tracking weight losers and regainers for years). The most optimistic number I ever heard was “only” 70% regain weight, but more often its cited between 80-95% relapse rate (eventually), depending on the source. So I know all the answers from trusted researchers and the M.O. of my survey is to capture/ “real people” perceptions – what do people who have relapsed (or successfully maintained) think was / is the cause of their success or failure? I am keenly interested in that, and then comparing that to what Ive seen in the research, then coming back to talk about this more having seen/ read both: “what does the research say”, what does the real world say?” In past surveys, asking for subscriber insights has been, as I mentioned in the post, priceless. Asking questions also gets people to think / reflect about their situation. Thanks for your response!! 🙂

  • Brandy

    I think there are many reasons people regain the fat they’ve lost back. These are the big ones that I believe have the most impact. The strategies they use to lose the weight is not sustainable in the long term. Issues like binging and emotional eating are never truly dealt with. Once dieting is done, stress can easily sabotage good intentions and the old issues come out and boom, back to fat gain. These are all issues that have impacted me in the past. I’m trying to shift to a lifestyle approach and this has helped my mindset.

  • Linda Jeanmougin

    We are constantly bombarded with food and activities that don’t support our goals. It is very easy to gain fat and hard to train and eat healthy.

    It takes work, every day. Simple is not always easy, which makes this program and support system so popular and valuable!

    Tom Venuto should be leading the “Affordable Care Act”!!

  • Alex Ariel Ramirez

    I think people regain fat because they get the exercise & nutrition part down, but don’t explore and solve the psychological/emotional aspects of weight issues. I lost about 140lbs in a year and a half. I ended up regaining about 30lbs and I’m in the process of getting rid of them! I had to do a ton of soul searching because I saw it happening and I couldn’t go back. I worked too hard! So, yeah, I think it’s a gestalt thing: it’s a problem that has to have a multipartite solution.

  • LR

    I know that I have regained fat due to an injury that has kept me from my normal routine for over 6 months. My rehab will take another year. It is very difficult to remain motivated to continue eating properly when you are dealing with pain and limitations daily. I also know that it is human nature to try to be perfect in your health routing and when you can not meet those unrealistic goals you feel defeated. I try to remind myself that a healthy life is a marathon and not a sprint. I just take each day as it comes and if I fail in one aspect, that does not mean I am a failure at everything.

  • Helle

    I think that every time you loose weight, you often also do it by eating less, and some of the bacteries in your intestine changes a bit, some of them dies, and when your diet is over, you want to go back to normal diet (slowly), but the fine “mashine” (bacteries) inside us, find it difficult comming back to where they were. I am sure that it is coursed by the bactiers inside all of us, less of them or even lack of.
    I hope you understand what I mean
    Kind regards

  • Jaimie

    I have lost and gained more than 1000 lbs in my lifetime. I have been on a diet since I was 7 years old and have tried everything out there to lose and keep the weight off.

    One year ago, I realized that it WASN’T about willpower, but about self-image. I didn’t love myself when I was heavy, so I dieted and starved – I had more willpower than you can imagine, but still didn’t like myself when I was thin so I would eat to self soothe. This went on all of my life.

    One year ago, I decided to love myself the way I am – regardless of my weight. As a result, I treat my body with respect, eat healthfully, and have lost almost 50 lbs in this year without any real effort.

    It’s about how much you love and respect yourself. If you don’t the weight will come back on, and because of metabolic damage that most dieters do to themselves, you will even gain more.

  • Kris

    Why Do Most People Gain the Weight Back…….

    From conversations with friends and family the most frequent trend I noticed is that most go on a really aggressive form of weight reduction be it excessive cardio, two a day work outs or just extremely reducing calories – yes these are all methods that work in the short term but in the long term not so much. These measures can be carried out for a certain period of time but highly not likely in the long term. Where a more slower approach would not only be more sustainable but would also produce the most long term results.

    Once people reach their ideal or target “goal weight” people seem to let their guard down and resort to previous habits that got them to this point in the first place. A slower more controlled mental shift is necessary to free oneself of the habits that caused the initial weight gain in the first place other wise it turns into the yo yo effect of losing then regaining then losing and it never seems to end.

    The key I think is finding the best non aggressive means of achieving weight loss while fitting it into your lifestyle so that it is sustainable and maintainable.

  • cheryl t.

    I think most people regain the fat because they reach their goal and then think they’re done. They stop tracking their diet, revert to old habits, and are surrounded by people who don’t support their diet and fitness goals. It’s also hard because some people make changes they can’t sustain – too severe for an actual lifestyle since they think of it as all or nothing. Rather than having a setback and then recovering from it, they give up.

  • Brian Saling

    A “Diet” will never work in the long run because it isn’t sustainable. Just like a “30 Day Program” won’t work if it isn’t sustained. Health and wellness issues are only maintained with consistency. If you can maintain good eating habits and exercise habits 80% of the time you will be doing much better than most of the population.

  • sashan

    Your body has a fixed number of fat cells, determined after puberty. The fat they store can vary. If you exercise and follow the routine those fat cells will be depleted of fat and you will look in shape. However you still have the fixed number of fat cells. Your capacity to store fat hasn’t changed even though you’ve rigorously followed your training routine whatever it may be. Now when you ease off or slack of back into your bad habits, the fat finds home in the old depleted fat cells, filling them up again so you return to your old shape.

  • Lyn Lee

    I had always been a slim, fitness conscious person who believes in eating healthy….. you are what you eat. Some events in my life caused me to become depressed and a bad reaction to medically prescribed pharmaceuticals caused me to have a heart sttack

  • Tom Raphael

    I’ve used too many lose weight quickly programs. They are very easy to follow and have resulted in success. I lost 40+ pounds in 2009 and gained it all back and much more until 2017 when I was at 256 pounds. Currently I’m at 181 with my original goal being 180. Now what I’m practically there having gone from a BMI of 40+ to 27 and a body fat percentage that was in the high 30’s down to 19.5, I realize that I’ve still got a ways to go. I’m thrilled with the success that I’ve had because I haven’t seen this weight since I was 21. Now I’m not focused on what the scale says. I’m focused on how my body feels, how strong I am and the things that I am capable of doing that I wasn’t able to do before. It’s about integrating habits that promote healthy eating and fitness. It’s now about the quantity of the food and exercise. It’s the quality. Once you realize that, then you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself of anything, you feel empowered to perform at your best.

  • Rob Amour

    I have lost and gained weight many times. For me, it isn’t as simple as “I hit my goal; where’s the buffet?”. What usually happens is that I stop taking regular measurements when I reach my goal. Also, I have trouble seeing incremental changes in my body whether they be positive or negative. Case in point, I lost over 30# in the summer challenge and personally couldn’t see the difference between my before and after pictures.

    These combine to become a perfect storm of my not even knowing the weight is coming back until it’s too late. I think I’m still doing all the right things but without the necessary feedback on a regular basis I regress back to my norm. I’ve also had a number of injuries that will knock me off of my routine and expedite the gains but that’s minor in the grand scheme of things; It just accelerates the process.

  • Ashley

    Personally, I think it has to do with mindset. We lose weight, and we think that these changes are only temporary. We think that when we get to our goal weight we can go back to eating how we used to. Weight loss has to be about a total change of focus. We have to do something that’s sustainable, not short term. We shouldn’t feel deprived or else we’ll hinge and slip. There shouldn’t be any “can’t” foods or “I can’t have that”. That makes things worse. We have to create a lifestyle. It shouldn’t be before and after, it should be before and current. There is no afters if you’re still working on maintaining your healthy lifestyle. There still needs that be room for dessert or wine or going out for a friend’s birthday. And hose things need to be okay, not a reason to “fall off the wagon”. It needs to be something you can live with.

    If you can’t live with it there will be binging and regaining and stop working out and being unhealthy. If most people think exercising takes all their time away from family, or their restrictive diet takes away from someone’s birthday or eating out, they’re not going to stick to it. And most of these diets, that restrict favorite foods and take over your life, are not sustainable. They’re just not worth it in the everyday.

  • Audrey

    I believe it has all to do with being on a diet. By definition, a diet is not something you will be able to maintain for the rest of your life unless you are extremely dedicated. Healthy balanced eating habits should not be too restrictive, otherwise people are bound to regain the fat lost when they stop dieting. A sustainable and healthy diet that works should not be called a diet. So most people regain the fat previously lost, because they diet if they were eating relatively healthy and truly happy with the taste and quality of food they were having on a daily basis, they would not regain the fat and be happy to keep eating the way they have forever.
    There are genetic factors as well related to fat gain, but external factors have a major role too, you can beat genetics.

  • Desiree Wong

    I think it is because we start eating a bit of this and that and go out for a lunch a dinner and forget that is why we put on fat in the first place.

  • Will

    Regaining the old weight is easy when you view your diet plan as a temporary short term goal. Once the goal is accomplished you feel free to let your guard down and return to your old favorite junk food items that you never wanted to give up in the first place. Most of these processed foods are addictive so you will continue to return to them over and over. Additionally they have little to no nutritional value leaving you feeling drained, non energetic, and less motivated. This all leads to no exercising encouraging fat storage/weight regain and you will slowly watch your body transform back to its original shape. Once your self esteem and mood changes in a negative manner about your self image, psychologically you check out and stop trying and caring as much as you use to. The mind and body both work together.

  • Meredith Flahan

    I think it just comes down to the simple “diet” vs “lifestyle change” concepts and finding the proper motivations for healthy living. Many start their weight loss journeys by following the rules of a diet or workout program (and by reading books and joining contests.) They’re in it to hit a certain number on a scale, to fit a certain size, or to win a prize. Once that goal is reached and they have “after photos,” they think their journey is over. In fact, it has just begun! But the motivation becomes more intrinsic, and maintenance is just another word for self-love. We should care for and nourish our muscles, bones, and organs because our bodies are our temples. We should cherish our bodies as we do our children! Also, unless I read the statistic incorrectly, it didn’t say that the vast majority of people are gaining back all of their fat. There’s nothing wrong with gaining back some as long as you’re just as happy and healthy!

  • Wanda W.

    I think people try to lose weight too fast and lose muscle and water and not as much fat. Also choosing a diet with restricted food groups that’s hard to maintain over the long haul. When they go back to “their” regular diet with less muscle mass, to burn calories, they gain fat rapidly.

  • Dawn

    I think stress is a huge factor, I for one gained my weight back because of extremely high-stress levels. I eat clean and go to the gym, but absolutely nothing budges the belly fat that has accumulated around my middle. Why?I asked many times.

    I found out that our bodies are designed to react fast to danger. When your brain thinks you’re in danger, it stimulates the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Hence the excess accumulation of fat around the midsection. Stress also triggers cravings for carbs and sugar, at least that is what I have discovered.

  • Chris Blair

    I believe the real cause of the difficulty in long-term success is in the lack of a behavioral support system of some kind. The gym, online groups, weight watchers, all of these have the psychological and emotional factors integrated into a reasonable diet plan. We usually know what to do, but we often lack the social support / accountability / reward system to sustain ourselves.

  • Dylan Brobst

    I believe it’s the lack of a long term lifestyle change commitment. We get so caught up in the here and now that we don’t look forward to what is next. We see it as a short term solution instead of a long term journey.

  • Brian Henderson

    After initially losing a total of 65 pounds and successfully keeping 45 pounds of it off for the last 11 years, I am currently struggling to stop regain. Personally speaking, I face several challenges to maintaining my weight. First, I am getting older—every time I start to make real strides in strength and weight loss, I get ill or hurt and I am forced to start over. Second, I have two small children (I am an older father) and I struggle just to find the time to exercise, though I do rarely miss a workout. Nevertheless, I am not nearly as physically active overall as I was when I initially lost the weight. Third, I have not been as strict about my diet as I was in the beginning. Fourth, I do not sleep well. Fifth, I have side-jobs that sometimes compete with my exercise time. Finally, with all of my other responsibilities, my weight just isn’t as important to me as it used to be…until my pants start getting tight. I would guess that many others suffer from similar problems and end up gaining back the weight they lost.

  • I typically lose weight spring and summer, then gain it all back in fall and winter. What surprises me, is that I give up on the diet and exercise at the same time. I don’t understand that at all. I have a great deal of knowledge concerning exercise and diet, and I’m motivated and usually disciplined. I can keep the weight off for about two years. Last year at this time I maintained between 10 and 15 percent bodyfat, now I’m over 20 percent. Very frustrating. Part of the problem is that I am more active in the spring and summer, less active in the fall and winter. I know I would be ok if I atleast modified my diet when I am less active.

  • Howard Spiegel

    I was on the Atkins diet and working out with a trainer at my gym about three times a week. After losing 20lbs and getting the “ripped look” I became complacent and overly satisfied with my results. Then I moved and started working out at home as the gym was no longer accessible. Little by little I put the weight back on over about ten years due to age, a change in my program and becoming overly satisfied with myself. Bottom line is when the program works you have to stick to it – diet, gym and the mental state that you’re never satisfied with yourself!

  • Lee

    Hi Tom,

    I’m a 56-year-old, 5’2″ female who has shed nearly a third of her body weight over the last two years, going from 148 and 38% body fat to (last week when I weighed in) 101 with 19% body fat. I attribute the gain to middle-aged spread due to my increased lack of activity and my negligent eating habits. I spent about two years turning this around, using nutrition, strength training and cardio. I relied on many sources for advice, and have only discovered your book and joined the Inner Circle. Thanks for both of them – they are going to take me to the next level!

    Here’s the question you posed:

    Why do so many people regain the fat they lost?

    I’m going to just brainstorm here; these ideas are in no particular order:

    1. inability to regroup when things don’t go according to plan. I really like how Dr. Pamela Peeke urges readers to have a Plan A, but also be ready with Plan B, C and so on if something happens.

    2. not setting concrete goals, both long-term and short-term. You covered this so well in _BFFM_, and I also love Tony Robbins’ presentation of this very important part of the success equation.

    3. expecting your whole life to turn around for the better when you lose the weight … and life just keeps on being … life.

    4. continuing to hang around with people who do not have your best interests at heart. My mother used to say, “Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.” This goes for your internet surfing and your video viewing, as well, not to mention the books you read and the songs you listen to.

    5. the realization that this is a lifelong process and feeling daunted. I’d think this is especially likely if you have taken part in some wacky, unrealistic weight loss scheme which does not take into account what will happen when (if!) you reach goal weight.

    6. you are uncomfortable with your weight loss, for whatever reason. Maybe it makes you feel vulnerable to be more attractive and more physically able to do things that you could avoid before because of the weight. When you lose the weight, you lose the excuses that “fat” people have.

    7. you don’t know how to respond to stress in an appropriate manner and resort to unhealthy eating and/or sitting down watching TV, on the computer, etc.

    OK, there are probably a dozen more that could spring to mind, but I need to get out of this chair and get my upper body workout in now. Thanks for soliciting our responses and I am sure that there are many people (including yours truly) who are looking forward to the next book.

  • Karen Smith

    I think that re-gain and maintenance come down to being honest with yourself. Maybe it’s oversimplified a bit, but in the long run maintenance is about knowing what you are and are not willing to do for the long haul.

    If you know that you can eat intuitively because you have a firm grasp on your maintenance portions and macros then great. If you know that you won’t stay on goal without tracking, then you have to be honest with yourself and track your daily intake. If you know that you are gaining, you have to be honest with yourself and make a plan to get back on track. If you know that you wont continue to lift hard or go to the gym, you have to be honest about it and find an activity that you enjoy to help you maintain. You also need to be honest that if you don’t find the time to train your muscles, you will not keep an fit build (although you can maintain your weight loss). It’s about choices and not trading what you want right now for what you want the most.

  • Kevin E

    I think they lose the focus once had. The “why” has been lost. In my case I had it and lost it from injury to life stuff. Didn’t give myself enough credit for the hard work done to get below 10% BF.

    Unless you are in the business of being fit it is not as important as other aspects of your life.

  • Annapurna

    When you are in weight loss mode you work on isolation method, where you have a schedule chalked out for eating, exercises and sleeping. But once in maintaining mode, we take it more relaxed and when life happens we throw everything g we have learnt out the window

  • Josh Fourdyce

    For myself, it comes down to a lack of discipline. I yo-yo when I begin making and accepting excuses.


    The answer according to me for people regaining lost weight is one overconfidence once they have lost a sizeable portion of their bulk fat. Two, it is also their indifference to all things personal health related. The saying goes”where am I going to show my six packs, I am not running a race etc”.

    The most classic is “GIVE ME A BREAK MAN, I HAVE BEEN AT IT FOR SO LONG”.

  • Chelagh Seuberling

    When I am in the mode for loosing weight, I find that I am very disciplined. After reaching my goal I have never found an exceptable maintance level that keeps me in both an exercise as well as eating the correct amount of calories to maintain. I get caught up in the eating and celebrating that each holiday and event centers around at home and at work. Thus I vary in my weight by as much as 30-40 pounds between bouts of weight loss and regain.

  • JM

    It’s tough to keep it up– life gets in the way. It’s a poor excuse, but it’s the reality of it. And it’s a slippery slope once you make the first excuse: it’s too late to work out…skipping one day won’t be too bad…then it becomes skipping two days. And suddenly you haven’t worked out in a week or two.

    Same thing with eating. There’s just so much food and snacking opportunities out there. One snack here and there all adds up.

    It’s a tough, tough thing to keep up.

  • CC

    I put on a lot of weight when I was 20. Then I lost it and never regained it, except during pregnancy. The reason is that I changed my mindset. I told myself and everyone else that I don’t have a big appetite. I say that I don’t like sweet things. I .say that I can’t eat a large portion of anything. My weakness is for savory food. I buy very small packs of potato chips and treat myself occasionally. The secret is mind over matter.

  • Jaime Greene

    I think if we want to be successful in keeping weight off, we need to not fall back into old eating habits and surround ourselves with people who are healthy and don’t overeat and/or eat unhealthy food. I also think we live in a society where people are on the go, work long hours, don’t get enough sleep and are busy, busy, busy. So, eating prepared meals is easier, cheaper and fast. We stress ourselves out, so we destress and have a beer or two or a glass of wine. We fall back into old habits, and before we know it, there’s 5-10-15 extra pounds back on our bodies.

  • Colleen Kohler

    You have brought up something that I have found incredibly discouraging. I knew the regain could happen but I didn’t realize how bad it was until I read an article about how many people regained weight after doing a program such as “Biggest Loser”. Stats seemed to indicate that your body fights incredibly hard to put you back to where you were for a long time, even when that place is completely unhealthy. It’s enough to discourage anyone from even trying to lose weight! In my own family, I have seen the difficulties of regain as I’ve watched aunts, cousins and siblings lose weight and over a period of a few years, end up back where they were before, or even a bit larger. My sisters are both very busy women who do not eat excessively yet they are both about 50 lbs overweight. Truly, I do not understand how they can be 5-10 sizes larger than they’d like to be when they are quite active. The same is true for a few friends. They are women who are not lazy, purposely get some exercise, eat carefully and remain 20 to 50 pounds heavier than they should be.

    For myself, I have kept my weight within a 15 pound range of where I was at 30. I am now nearly 60. But I have to watch my calories all the time. I try to exercise at least 3 times/week I eat mostly healthy – have to have a little chocolate every day. But sometimes I wake up and am 5 pounds heavier And the 5 pounds doesn’t go off in a day or two – it takes a week or two of keeping around 12-1500 calories a day. Further, when I do manage to get a couple of pounds under my normal weight (which remains about 10 pounds above where it should be), I get an insatiable appetite as if my body was desperate to go back up a few pounds. It is very difficult. I skip a lot of meals to keep calories down, especially if I am going to be attending a lunch meeting or going to lunch with a friend. After what I have personally experienced, read, and seen, I can understand why people turn to Coolsculpting and other fat removing methods.

  • jona o.

    Thank you, Tom, for you kind email-comment about researched 70-95% people’s fat relaps. I’m glad to’ve learned that the data are factually bad.
    Now, after having read the earlier other postings here too, I’m suddenly wondering how we’ve come to accept that resisting too much food, or the wrong food for ourselves, would mostly be everyone’s personal responsibility. In reality there clearly is an overall over-abundance of food in every form with every single step at one’s dayly routes outdoors and even at home. Plus an infinite number of open and hidden persuaders to grab some, or much. Minus a rich cultural education from earliest youth on, to learn and habituate resisting such aggressive foody surroundings at all. On the contrary, if anything, we’ve been taught rather to prove being social by taking one’s part of the mess. Even besides the psychology of satisfactory love replacing surrogates, from this point of view, one might conclude nearly everyone to’ve been thorougly drugged for permanent addiction, with leaving one few, if any, personal choices in the first place, and forcing one to divert lots of energy away from contructive activities just into fighting the habit, and thus mostly in vain, as it would seem from the data.

  • JB

    Generally, most people who regain weight don’t understand that changes need to be ‘for life.’ Going on a diet for a few weeks or months will not solve the problem. It needs to be a lifelong change in eating habits and exercise and this demands a major mental adjustment. That doesn’t mean being 100% perfect all the time but rather knowing that there is a baseline of habits that need to be implemented almost daily in order to keep the weight off.

  • Kevin Dougherty

    Why I regained the weight and fat in one word is “OVERCONFIDENCE”. In my case I lost fat worked out, had positive results and felt good so I reasoned I could eat this or that and skip a workout or 2 and all of a sudden I was back to the old habits. Then it takes awhile to get motivated again. Starting over is much harder than maintaining.

  • Suzanne Gaudet

    Every year I seem to be a bit bigger. My body takes this new weight and says “ok so this is what I’m maintaining now”. My husband and I travel to Jamaica every spring and around December, we start our training and eating programs. By the time we leave for our trip in March/April, I’m usually about 136 lbs (I’m 5’7″). When we get back, I drop to what SHOULD be maintenance level training/eating but it never works. I end up gaining what I lost and a few pounds more. It’s very frustrating and I’m sure age must be a factor (I’m 50)…maybe my metabolism slowed down more or maybe I’ve been doing the diet thing so long my body is ALWAYS in some sort of storing mode. My weight right now is 147.5 lbs. Last year at this time it was 145. Will next year be 150? HORRIFYING.

  • KimD

    I’ve struggled with weight gain and loss my whole life. I’m endomorphic so weight gain is easy, weight loss not so much. Food was tightly controlled for me as a child. My food choices and quantities were chosen for me. My mother was a nurse and our meals were generally healthy. As members of the “clean plate” club I recall more than 1 night sitting in front of a serving of beets, shrimp, carrots until bedtime because they disagreed with my palette. In addition, the times that we were allowed fat and sugar were mostly very positive times: Christmas, thanksgiving, Good report cards were a combination of laughter, family and friends, and sugar. The connection between good feelings and unhealthy foods was ingrained early in life. As a young adult my food choices were primarily healthy.
    When I was devastated by a betrayal in my family I turned to Ben and Jerry for comfort. The sugar connection was resumed. When I’m in loss or maintenance mode I journal my food, measure, weigh but much like an alcoholic when I fall off the wagon it is very hard to hit the brakes. I know the idea of food or sugar addiction is a controversial one for some people. What I know from my perspective is how beyond difficult it is for me to say no to the next bite once I’m back on the sugar train. I know the answer is to find a substitute for the sugar. It would be great if that were exercise for me one day but so far it is not. The comfort, albeit temporary, that I feel from sugar in times of stress has not been duplicated with any of my hobbies. During my times of success in eating healthy and working out the biggest factor for me has been accountability partners: a gym employee, fellow gym rat, etc. Those people have their own lives and the zeal in the beginning of these connections eventually starts to wane and the accountability fades.
    As a young adult I had periods of bingeing during tough times. I eventually sought out counseling and while I still make bad choices during my regain periods the bingeing is more controlled. During one of my counseling sessions my therapist shared with me that research was being done on the connection between the brain and sugar. They’d found that a sugar addict and alcoholic have similar brain responses during relapses. As someone who’s relapsed several times over my lifetime it makes sense to me. Some people think it’s because people who regain are looking for an excuse for their lack of willpower. Those who live with it can tell you that during those times, sugar is a need not a want. I promise you I wouldn’t put myself through the self loathing that follows if it were simply a matter of willpower.
    I know this may not be a popular idea here. I’m not looking to create controversy. I’m just hoping to give some insight into why some people regain.

  • Joyce Storey

    My weight has been an issue since I was a child, with many ups and downs. Back in 2004, at the age of 39 and after the birth of my last son, I weighed my highest at 272lb when I finally turned things around and started losing weight. I lost around 50lb the first year and then over the next couple years I lost another 53 for a total loss of 103lb. After I decided that was enough of a loss, I did bounce up with a 10lb~ weight gain but have maintained this new weight for over 10 years now.

    Maintaining my loss has not been easy to be honest. I gain weight easily and have to rein things in quickly when I get off track. I no longer count calories regularly but I’ve learned to eat mostly (80-90%) healthy, unprocessed foods, and I work out 5-6 mornings per week, walk about 3-5 miles most days and try to get outdoors most weekends to hike, xc ski, and snowshoe. I’ve had to make these choices a priority and nothing much gets in my way because I know how easy it would be to let things get out of hand.

    When people say losing weight takes a lifestyle change, I agree! My lifestyle is totally different than it was in the past and don’t ever want to go back to that life. I believe that making healthy choices and staying active are key to maintaining weight loss and that my health is a topmost priority.

  • Kristaps

    From my limited understanding people make changes temporarily to achieve some sort of a goal and once they have achieved it, they aren’t as strict as they might have been during their journey. I would assume also that once the goal is achieved people put their efforts elsewhere and don’t worry about their diet and exercise as much thinking that it wouldn’t require their attention as much as it did in the past.

  • Kathy

    My own personal experience has been a lot of hormonal changes and getting them balanced, food additives, and stress. MSG is a huge issue in our food today. I nearly had to have my gallbladder removed because it was reacting to MSG. Anytime I get msg in my diet I will gain five pounds overnight. I swell like I’m pregnant and it takes me over a week to get the weight back off. I very rarely eat out and have only a handful of places I eat. I never eat anything packaged. I have also taken gluten out of my diet. Since making these changes I have started to lose weight for the first time in years. I am very sensitive to estrogen and gained 25 pounds in three weeks so can no longer use that. I use DHEA instead. It’s not about getting lazy or not having enough will power. Because of stress, the more I worked out the more weight I gained. It was causing more stress on my adrenals. Now I walk and use a full body vibration machine and it is working for me. I have lost 15
    pounds in 10 weeks. Staying hydrated helps me to eat only when I’m hungry and not crave unhealthy snacks.

  • Robert Callahan


    I have a long history of my degree of overweight being at different levels. As a very young child, I was perfectly normal. When I was about 9 years old, I started to get a little chubby. By the time I was about 13 years old, I was the “fat kid” in class. After my sophomore year in high school, I lost a considerable amount of weight, and I was at a normal weight for about the next 15 years.

    I got married when I was 31 years old, and in the subsequent years, I got busy with raising two kids, and I got a very sedentary job. During my 30s and early 40s, I gained weight very, very gradually. But after about a dozen years of very gradual weight gain, I was carrying about 230 lbs on a 5′ 7″ frame at age 44. I decided to do something about that, and in 2002, I joined a gym, clamped down on my eating, and lost about 65 pounds, getting down to a more-or-less normal weight.

    For the next several years, my weight hovered in the 160s and 170s (maybe even into the low 180s), but I got out of the habit of working out, and my weight was gradually creeping up again. In about 2008, I once again joined a gym, and was more careful about my eating. It was also around this time that I read “Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle”, and the “The Body Fat Solution”. I didn’t do strict calorie counting, really; I was just being more careful not to overdo my food consumption. My workouts became an on-again, off-again thing, but I managed to keep my weight more or less in check.

    Now, as I am nearing 60 years old, I keep noticing other people my age (and many younger people) who are many pounds overweight (it’s the new normal). I also see the toll that carrying extra weight takes on mobility, and general quality of life. Once again, I’ve made myself be more strict with my eating habits, although I hate to admit that I’ve once again gotten out of the workout routine.

    Sorry for the rambling. I’m in the fifth paragraph of my comment, and I haven’t answered the question that you asked. All I’ve done is go on about my own ups and downs with my weight. So the question was: Why do so many people regain the fat they lost? I think the reason is that it is so much easier to let things slide (workouts, good eating habits), plus a few other things.

    1. Being overweight really is the new normal; it is not the negative thing that it used to be.
    2. The world is much more geared to over-consumption than it used to be (been to a restaurant lately?).
    3. Stress eating and emotional eating fill in for satisfaction with life.
    4. For anyone who has ever been overweight, the body always has a tendency for weight gain.

    On that last point, I have not done any real research on this, but I really believe that there is a physiological difference between someone who has never been overweight, and someone who has a history of being overweight. The body of a person with a history of being overweight processes food differently, and that person will not metabolize food as does a person who has never been overweight. Also, a person with a history of being overweight probably has a much different way of thinking about food, than someone who has never had a problem with weight. Without making a change in this “relationship with food” (actually, I hate that term), lasting weight change will be very difficult to maintain (as noted in “The Body Fat Solution”).

    Again, sorry for the rambling comment. There are probably other people who can be much more succint than I’ve been. But this may at least shed some light on reasons why almost anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight will end up regaining most, or all of the weight.

    Robert Callahan

  • Alex

    Metabolism and hormones.

    I think most people regain it back, because their goals were too “strong” and stubborn in the first place. No doubt they have willpower, no doubt they will try to catch the carrot (goal) on front of them no matter what. Because of that they will decrease their calories and raise the cardio till they get to their destination. Problem is, they screw their metabolisms and when their hormones kick in a bad way, it’s all downhill from there. Focus, emotions, willpower go bezerk, as the snowball grows, even more bezerk it goes. Instead of seeing the end-goal of just losing weight, i guess the better goal, would be to lose fat and keeping metabolism running great. Most diet material around, is about just losing weight, because that’s how they get clicks to their site/book. But that’s just one part of the program. The bad news for those who are in a hurry to lose it, is that it takes time. And quite some reefeeds 🙂

  • Rhonda Bee

    A lot of people, me included know how to lose fat/weight but after the goal is attained if you do not continue on with your new healthy habits the fat/weight will return.
    You can not expect to maintain your goal achieved by returning to old unhealthy habits.

    • Howard Spiegel

      Get liposuction and end the misery of diet constantly – it’s a drag!

  • Karen Roscoe

    I would’ve agreed with most people…loss of focus/relaxing your grip on diet/exercise etc but I gained weight even though I kept to healthy eating & exercising! Tried adjusting diet/portions etc…no change. Tried lifting more/heavier weights….no change. I’m v much a routine person so I keep doing what I need to do & I don’t snack.
    Looking back I found I’d weighed less when I ate more potatoes!! Even stranger as I always have butter or cheese with them! From recent research, scientist think that the gut flora has an effect on weight. I’m think that my gut flora was more conducive to weight loss when I was eating potatoes. Everyone is different so there’s probably no one thing that works for everyone. I’m still researching as I’m sure the old energy in/energy out ‘rule’ is rubbish for many people. There’s more to it.

  • Rick

    I gained all of my fat back that I had lost because I couldn’t take the thought of only eating low-calorie, healthy foods for the rest of my life. It was DEPRESSING. So I allowed myself a treat now and then until two years later – I had gained most of it all back. My solution? I now keep a daily food journal. Now eating healthy is not a DEATH SENTENCE because as long as I keep track of what I eat, I can eat what I want as long as I make adjustments for it somewhere else. I have been at my BMI target weight for over a year now, and I am rarely hungry and have very few cravings because I satisfy them as they come up and forget about them. I also have a written record that I can go over every day and congratulate myself on how far I have come and how well I am doing. After keeping the journal for over a year now, I know exactly what a portion is and I know what to order at any restaurant without thinking about it, which really helps the most, because the word “diet” or “healthy eating” never comes up in conversation.

  • Juanita

    I’ve gained 10 kilo. I went from being a 56 kilo, 14.8% body fat healthy person to now a 66.6 kilo, nearly 30% body fat unhealthy person in the last two years.

    How did this happen, emotions, emotions, emotions!

    I had two family members who were very sick in hospital and my mum passed away, I also left my husband. So I stopped exercising and turned to comfort food. Worst thing ever cause eating does not make you feel better. And gaining weight, certainly does not make you feel better.

    My advice to people who are going through emotional turmoil, seek support, lots of it. Friends, family, work colleagues, anyone who will listen for five minutes. Keep eating healthy and definitely do not give up your exercise, these are the foundation for a happy mind.

  • T bennett

    Changing habits is very hard. When we’re faced with stress or they become inconvenient, we put aside the new, healthy ways of living amd return to our comfortable habits.

  • Diane Nelson

    I get tired of making sacrifices. I like healthy foods and I know it is possible to still enjoy treats, but it can be tough to work them in in the right amount.

  • Michael Albrough

    Lack of commitment to making lasting changes pertaining to exercise and nutritional habits. True change is an inner work. Anyone can create a temporary result. Only those determined to alter their lifestyle for the long haul will achieve sustainable success.

  • Wendy

    I am an emotional eater. When things are good I can maintain a healthy weight but when things get tough I can’t stop myself eating. I get heavier and then become upset at my weight gain. This causes more over eating. I’m aware of the problem but can’t stop myself.

  • Claire

    I have lost and gained over the years, I find that bad habits, especially related to food creep back in if you are not continually mindful. I think it is easier to fall back into old habits and attitudes if the underlying issues related to self esteem, emotional eating etc are not addressed

  • Derek W

    Discipline. Exercising regularly and eating healthy, to achieve a ‘short term goal’ is very difficult. However, keeping the required discipline to have a literal change in life style can seem impossible. I personally see, with all due respect Tom and my fellow friends, that all of the aforementioned points, such as support and accountability, fall under discipline. If one does not have the right frame of mind, the accountability won’t matter in the slightest. To some, maybe, if there is no discipline, accountability won’t matter, and one might ponder ‘what would be the point of seeking support, I would just waste the time of the good kind people trying to help’. That’s my proverbial two cents. Keep up the great work everyone!

  • AmandaJustice

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I regain weight because I have not yet found a balance of food and activity that is sustainable for me. I can keep up activity for a while, but thus far I always fall back into my default, which is very sedentary. It’s probably not helped by the fact that I have sustained several consecutive injuries that tend to derail any momentum I manage to build up.

  • Al Ramirez

    I think most people regain their weight because they don’t consider that what they are doing to lose the weight has to be a new lifestyle not just for the time of a contest or up until a specific event that they wanted to look their best for.

  • Michelle

    I have lost over 40 pounds and kept it off for five years and counting. I think people regain weight, because they do not have a good motivator and simple habits to implement. I learned about nutrition and developed a good understanding about what habits I could easily swap. I lost the weight slowly and did not try any fad diets. I also changed the intensity and the types of exercise programs. I am an avid learner and continue to look for new ways to be healthy.

  • Sydney Nuttall

    It’s my understanding that our bodies become comfortable at whatever weight we maintain continually. Until we can maintain our goal weight as long as we were at a higher weight we will be constantly fighting to keep the weight off. The body has to become comfortable with the new weight and new calorie needs which takes time and long term dedication. Unfortunately most people reach a goal weight and then become lax at complying to the new regimen so we revert back to our comfortable place.

  • Stella Nanyonjo

    The biggest mistake made is thinking that weight loss is a ‘one off’ activity. Reason I have regained weight was because I dedicated a specific duration of time to lose weight and achieved my target but there after I got complacent and it all starts with one wrong food choice, a skipped workout. Before you know it, you’re going a week, month eating unhealthy and not working out. Slowly by slowly the Kgs start coming back. At that point you start telling yourself to go back to the healthy ways but it sort of gets hard. That’s when the second reason comes in; procrastination! Anyone seeking to lose weight and keep it off needs to realise and accept that it’s a lifetime, lifestyle adjustment. Make eating healthy the ‘normal’ in your life incorporating exercises.

  • Eddie

    Because they just blindly followed a plan that usually consists of extreme calorie deficite. These plans show quick results be can not be sustained. Eventually they fall off the wagon.

  • Esley

    People regain the fat they’ve lost because they lost it due to following a specific diet or programme, rather than because they underwent a deep, lasting lifestyle change. Old habits of motivation, thought and action need to be “rewired” in the brain to form a new lifestyle based on new habits (brain patterns) of motivation, thought and action.

  • Wanda

    People gain their weight back because they go back to eating the way they did before they lost the weight.

  • Sherrie

    Most people gain the fat back because they view weight loss as an event. Once it’s over they go back to their old habits and the weight comes back. Instead of making permanent lifestyle changes they make short-term changes to lose the weight. It’s a difficult thing to do.

  • Debbie Ivey

    I believe our bodies adjust to our new size. It gets comfortable with the amount of food we take in for fuel and the amount of exercise we once performed to lose the extra weight. Once that happens, the smaller amount of food for fuel and the normal amount of energy to expend it becomes the norm and eventually, too much. Sometimes it happens so slightly we almost don’t notice it. When it becomes evident, it once more becomes a journey to eliminate.

  • Paul

    Fifteen years ago I could barely walk due to degenerative disc disease trigered by a car crash on police duty. Following a few years of rehab, the experts finally assessed MRI’s and told me I’d never walk again. I was forced to retire from the force and depression set in leading to junk food and alcohol leading to obesity.

    Until one day, I realised I didnt recognise myself anymore, emotionally, spiritually and definately physically. The matial artist had gone? The police riot tactics intructor? Gone. No trace either mentally or physically.

    The loss of my “fit” identity created massive emotional pain for me. Even though I was obese and out of condition for so long, doing soething about it was not a choice it was a must. So I did a 12 week programe and forced myself to the gym and start a competition program through gritted teeth due to the pain at the injury site. But that didin’t matter, the physical pain was way less than the emotional pain. But as I continued to train, a miracle happend. the pain got less and my spine straightened out, my hip centralised and walking became easier.

    Did I win the competion? No, in fact, I didnt even properly register, I just used the training program. Did I have a ripped six pack? No. Was I uspet? No becasue I could walk pain free, I lost 40lbs AND had a flat stomach with just barely visible abs if I really, really really tensed hard with a well placed side light. (Come on men, we have all done it!! 🙂

    Why all of this detail? Because I became trapped in what is known as the “Pressure Cooker”. The pressure of losing my health and fitness was so high, it forced me to take action and start training but when the results came in and the pressure dropped, it was just like when the pressure valve blows and releases steam on a pressure cooker, the pressure dropped and I reduced the action. I gently maintained by doing just enough for a while until another life challenge hit and sent me back looking for certainty in my life by eating rubbish food and the whole thing started again. Weight comes on, pressure builds, take action, get good result, pressure drops, action stops.

    What is shocking and embarrassing but I will share it to show that it can happen to anyone, the second time I put excess fat on, bcame obese and got stuck there I was a Personal Trainer! I decided to get qualified and start a second small business as a final statement to the experts that told me Id never walk again properly. I know! Shocking! A PT not walking his talk! I knew all of the information, I knew what and how to do it but chose not to use it. I shut down the business and I became stuck, proving that knowledge IS NOT power. “Applied knowledge is power.

    All I can say is that I got stuck in what NLP practitioners call a “moving away from” motivation strategy. i.e. I dont want to be fat anymore. Great to get started but once I wasnt fat anymore, I lost my motivation and my action first reduced then stopped.

    More self-awareness was needed to spot the reducing focus and comittment sooner. This is why I say, missing one workout gives permission to miss two and right there is the slippery slope. A reduction in my focus should have been a prompt to switch to a “moving towards” motivation strategy – by visualising myself with those six pack abs, single didgit body fat% and so on. In fact what I have done now is to photoshop my head onto an image of a body I want. The image is on my wall with my other goals and in my head when chosing whether one more rep is possible or not.

    Presently, I am a work in progress and yes, I have registered for the current 49 day challenge. I apologise for the long detailed post but I am happy with the embarrassment I feel disclosing this information as long as it helps someone for whatever reason. Best wishes and much respect to all. P

  • Catherine Day

    I believe that one of the main reasons that people regain lost weight is due to emotional factors and lack of a viable support system. Many times, a person starts a program with great enthusiasm, has done their research, and are ready to make the changes. However, there are times where they have not dealt with the emotional issues that drive them to overeat and/or not exercise. The person may experience great success. While others may be behind them when they start, during and after their journey, the critics come out. For example, while I was going through my program, I had someone ask me, “so…you lose weight and then what?” Normally, this would be a valid question had I not felt the maliciousness behind it. Another time, someone said to me, “oh, you should make sure you don’t lose too much…you won’t look right.” These are sort of mind games that, if a person is used to being told they are “fat, big bones, if only you’d lose weight, you’d be pretty, etc…” that will quickly cause one to questions themselves.
    It is so important to exercise and gear your mind toward the fact that, while it is work, it’s work that is worth it bringing many great benefits.
    I also firmly believe that people need to examine nutrient content more closely. While calories are important, what type of calories you nourish yourself with is a biggie! Proper nutrition is more important than those “100 calorie snacks.”
    So, in my humble opinion, it all comes down to your mindset. No I’m not saying “oh, if you think positively, it WILL happen.” Mindset, then action is the key to your success.

  • Aaditi

    Speaking from my experience, I have tended to start regaining the fat I have lost as soon as I stop tracking – when I stop updating my food diary and stepping on the scale. One day becomes many, and then *not* tracking becomes its own habit.. until I realize that my sleep is off and my clothes don’t fit, then I’m back on the scale identifying how much I have regressed, and the cycle starts over.

    To lose the fat and keep it off, the feedback loop system truly needs to be lifelong.

  • Fred Wolsey

    As Yogi Berra said, 50% of this game is all mental. The things I have found are:

    1. Lack of discipline when I am not focused on a goal.

    2. Not having a plan for the end of the contest /12 week block / after I get back from some disruption like vacation. Some how the week off becomes two then three then its three months later and I have surrendered my successes.

    3. Ignoring the Fifth Element outside of contest periods. Like most people, having support from friends on line is a huge help. You cant get help if you don’t go looking for it.

    Great reading here Tom , thanks!

  • Pedro Teigas

    For those of us with a genetic predisposition to gain weight, it’s an everyday struggle. Weight loss/management is very hard, we have to constantly check our calories and if we overdo the weight comes rushing in.

    People on a calorie deficit are always a bit hungry and when we are presented with the foods we have banished from everyday meals it’s easy to give in… We try to rationalize, maybe one, I’ll probably eat two and before you know it you’ve eaten the entire package saying it’s just this once.

    This everyday struggle takes a toll, we’re tired, we resist for weeks to lose a few pounds and it seems one mistake has ruined everything. At this point we can make a stand, say it won’t happen again, get back in the fight, implement methods to avoid “falling of the wagon”, stop going to places we now are hard to resist and we might even refuse going to dinner parties but eventually life will happen. Again we’re faced with the decision to keep going or quit.

    At some point almost everybody quits, especially on holidays or vacations. I often quit for a few weeks, gain 4/6 pounds until I gather the strength to come again but some people just give up and gain all the weight lost.

    Life is hard and this fight makes it harder, it’s easy to just let it go.

    I loved Tom’s books mainly for the mental training. Objectives, focus and preparation are key to success but it comes down to our resilience and capacity to fight every single day, never giving up.

  • Beverly

    Ah, recidivism. In my case, I’m not getting any younger, and as the years pile up the effort to maintain gets harder and harder. In spite of the motivation techniques, and support help, and the realization that fat loss and maintenance is a lifestyle change, one simply gets tired. TIRED.

    And this is on top of life circumstances that may have gone south, and require a tremendous amount of effort themselves. Tired.

  • Tony Suckling

    I found the weight stayed off for several years until I started a new business. I suspect stress and long working hours contributed to putting some of the weight back on.

    • Howard Spiegel

      Cortisol…….the stress factor that puts on belly fat when you’re under constant stress from your business. It gets worse as you age.

  • Todd Hudson

    I have never lost a great amount of weight and regained it, but I have seen folks in my family who have. I personally struggle to lose the last 5% of bodyfat that I want to lose, to get to sub-10%.
    As far as fat regain goes, I believe alot of it that I have witnessed has to do with slipping back into the ‘comfort food’ habits that so many people seem to have. Things are great when one is really committed and in the zone, but once it becomes time to maintain, a little ice cream here, a little holiday overeating there and the person is back up 20-30 lbs. or more in a very short amount of time.
    For me, struggling to lose even a few lbs. to stay under 180, I think it is a willpower struggle and a need to be willing to be a little hungry once in awhile, for awhile. This probably has alot to do with comfort, as well. I like the drink or snack in the evening that makes me feel good and ready for bed, and that must be sacrificed to see the extraordinary results that I want to see.

  • Paul

    I believe there are two primary components to permanent fat loss.

    First: Minimize the processed foods and find whole natural foods that you enjoy. Make those foods the majority of your diet. Don’t tempt yourself too much by keeping too many processed foods in the house.

    Second: This element may be even more difficult. Participate in some physical activity that is mild to moderate in intensity five or six days a week that will burn an additional 250 to 400 calories a day. It will have to be something you find enjoyment in or you will find it unsustainable.

    Do these two and your golden.

  • Nancy Rossi

    Why oh why do we gain it back? Well perhaps it’s a feeling of success and goal reached so no more counting or restricting required! Sure we’d all love that but I have come to realize after so many years of struggling with weight that there’s no such thing. I can certainly take a few days off but especially since I’m over 50 now I must maintain my physical activity and proper clean eating counting calories and macros consistently. It’s a commitment and it takes work. Thanks to Tom I have the tools I simply must continue. I believe you are either losing or gaining and maintenance is but a dream! That is my reality.

    • Howard Spiegel

      Wait until you’re 65 – it gets worse and the saggy man tits set in!

  • Jimmie Cheever

    Sometimes After Reaching or Almost Reaching Your Goals, (The Look You Were After, The Number On The Scale) Friends and People You Don’t Really Know Start To Flood You With Compliments. You Start To Relax and Start Believing The Hype. You Tell Yourself That You Have Worked Hard To Reach Your Fitness/Nutrition Goals, and Now Deserve To Cut Back On Your Training and Not Be So Strict With Nutritional Intake. The First Couple Of Weeks You Continue To Get Leaner or Bounce Right Back When You Go Over Your Nutritional Needs. Your Metabolism Is Still In Overdrive! You Workout 2 Days A Week Instead Of Three – Four. You Workout Harder and Begin To Reward Yourself For Working Out Extra Hard! ( Extra Helping Of Potatoes, Just One Soda, or 1 Nice Slice Of Sweet Potato Pie, It Has Good Fiber In It Right?) I’ll Work Extra Hard When I Go To The Gym, Or Whatever Your Choice Of Fitness Is. Slowly But Surely Your Body Fat % Starts To Increase. You Don’t Realize It But You Are Operating In A Caloric Surplus, Instead Of Deficit! (Your Intake Is Much More Than Your Expenditure) Over Load On Starchy Carbs, 1 Soda Is Now 2.(Increased Sugar Intake) Eventually You Wake Up One Morning, Look In The Mirror and Realize You’re Right Back Where You Originally Started. Thanks To Mr. Venuto We All Have Access To The Fitness Bible/Blueprint To Revert Back To. To All GOD Bless, Continued Success!!!

  • Andrea J

    For me, if I lose enthusiasm for my goals, any meal and exercise plan I have been following is toast. Enough emotional upheaval all at once, like ending a long-running relationship, can (and has) beaten down my enthusiasm.

    I also have a high-stress job and I think after five years of no respite, I am just bone tired.

    I can also relate to the first several points in Lee’s post above, not necessarily personally but they make a lot of sense to me.

  • Steve Kosier

    Tom, I can’t thank you enough for changing my life! BFFM was an instrumental component in my journey from fat-2-fit and I am forever grateful I found you and your extensive body of work. Your program was a critical component to me becoming a long term weight loss maintainer!

    I spent my entire adult life as a morbidly obese man who was on a perpetual diet gaining and losing the same 30-40 pounds over and over again. I lost hundreds of pounds over several decades only to repeatedly regain it plus a little more. I didn’t mean to regain the weight, because I promised myself at the beginning of each weight loss attempt that this would be the last time I ever had to lose weight! Regardless of all the goal setting and lifestyle tips presented by the different authors of weight loss programs I used, I always felt like I needed to “take my punishment” so I could lose the weight and then I could get back to “normal!”

    At age 52 I found your BFFM program and started my weight loss journey that eventually totaled 115 pounds. (6’ 4” height I went from 320 lbs. to 205 lbs. @ approx. 10% body fat.) I reached goal weight over 7-years ago and I have maintained that body profile ever since. No gaining and then losing, just living my life day-to-day on auto-pilot. I am a rare phenomenon in today’s landscape and I know it! How is it that one man succeeded where 99% of others fail?

    Franky speaking Tom, I have much to say on the subject of permanent sustainable weight loss… Much more than can be summed up in a short comment box on a blog post, but here are the highlights!

    When I approached BFFM I decided I was going to do something different than I had ever done before. I decided I would emulate the actions and habits of people that had successfully lost a lot of weight and kept it off long term. You see, I was all done listening to anyone, so called EXPERT(S) or otherwise, that hadn’t achieved exactly what I desired, which was to lose all my excess weight and maintain it for life!

    My criteria was rigid. I really wasn’t interested in hearing about someone that lost 20 or 30 pounds to get to goal weight. I wanted to know exactly how the heavyweights like me did it and then maintained it forever. (I’m talking 5-years or more of maintenance!)

    I specifically searched out success bios of these rare people and I called them and interviewed them. I also found a treasure trove of data published by “The National Weight Loss Registry” whereby they report on the traits and habits of a large cohort of people that have lost gobs of weight and maintained it long term.

    In virtually all cases these long-time weight loss maintainers have some very common traits which I used as a lifestyle blueprint and the training wheels for building my new life as a height and weight proportional person. I call them my “Unbreakable Rules!”

    The bottom line is if you don’t radically change how you think and operate day-to-day and minute-to-minute you won’t make it. You can lose weight but if you don’t own the knowledge and habits of a height-weight proportional person you are doomed to failure. We see similar circumstances whereby someone wins a big lottery prize only to be broke a few years later for money that should have lasted their lifetime. They just weren’t prepared with the skills to be a multi-millionaire.

    Tom, I am not specifically going to cite this thing or that thing that I learned which led to my success because people like to “cherry pick” solutions looking for the magic answer! The real answer to permanent sustainable weight loss is a program like BFFM combined with lifestyle transformation training taken from the actual people that achieved that success. Not PHD’s, scientists, or other industry professionals that have no real idea how overweight people think and act. The fact is that permanent weight loss has a lot of lot of moving components the least of which is losing the weight.

    Tom, I am willing to share my findings from studying long term weight loss maintainers. I would consider it my way of giving back to someone who was so instrumental in my successful journey from Fat-2-Fit. Please feel free to reach out if I can be of assistance and thanks once again for all I have learned from you that was critical to my long-term success.

  • Kate

    I think to an extent, hunger catches up when the weight is off, when I get casual about what I eat and resort to calorie tracking instead of balancing nutrients. Lack of variety in food choices gets a bit frustrating, too, there is as sense that the weight is off so I should be entitled to cheat more often. This becomes a slippery slope, especially if there is added stress or trauma in my life. It’s easier than ever to slip back into old habits when this happens. It’s risky when I view food as a reward, or something I’m deprived of. I do best when I find a balance between healthy eating and eating treats as a treat – not an every day thing I “deserve”.
    My husband did BFFM with me and for him, he says he got lax at checking his weight and watching his portions. He kept eating healthy foods and exercising, but cheated more, and his portions got bigger. The weight crept back for him and it surprised him when he weighed himself and found all the weight back a couple years later.

  • John L

    Why do so many people regain the fat they lost?

    One reason people who regain the fat they lost (or more) may be that these goal achievers had set a goal to lose the weight (fat) but didn’t set follow-on goals to keep the fat off. They probably “relaxed” their nutritional practices that had not yet fully developed into their long-term lifestyle (set of habits), and reduced some of their exercise commitments. Unfortunately, this is what I’ve seen in my own situation. I worked hard and achieved my goal(s), but then relaxed somewhat once my goal was achieved. It really takes extra work to stay focused and committed to the new way of eating and exercising. To battle this, I’ve set new mini-goals to achieve the next target — in the next 28 to 30 days. Using the principles of BFFM and the TNB-28 program, I know this will improve my focus, motivation, and results! Thanks!

  • Charmon Poundstone

    The original diet could be too restrictive and hard to stick with for a lifestyle chane. Not having a definite goal you are working towards makes it harder to stay compliant to a plan.

  • I.T.

    A lot of people commented above are right… You gain your fat back because you ‘didn’t make it your life style, just a temporary change’, and body always tries to keep an ‘equillibrium’ and begins to release more of hunger hormones in starvation mode’ etc.etc. Most of this is right, however, on the most basic level, the most basic reason is some basic physical laws that are in play., laws that nothing and no one in this Universe can defy.

    Well, obviously, there’s a law of conservation of energy ( the 1st law of thermodynamics.) Every atom (and human body consists of atoms – which are way before the level of cells) as it absorbs the certain amount of energy it will have to emit the same amount of energy back into space. This is how atoms stay in equillibrium. Atom is just a tiny ‘system,’ and every system in the Universe tries to conserve Energy.

    But there are physical laws that are even more important that the 1st law of TD. It’s the relationship between Time and Energy. Time and Energy are always ‘linked’ in a reciprocal way. The more time you spend doing something, the less energy it will take you in the long run. If you want to shorten this time and gain results faster, you would have to spend much MORE energy. If you lose fat fast, with some excessive cardio sessions, just to get in shape for the beach – you will gain it back faster, as opposed to regaining it after months and even years of meticiolous regime.

    Human body consists of atoms but as it evolved it became more complex than atoms. It can’t just emit energy ‘back’ if it absorbed some energy. It ‘traps’ energy inside the body, for the body’s needs. It traps it in the liver. It traps it in the muscles. It traps it in the fat. And then it releases it only when needed, trying to manipulate that Time-Energy relationship. The fat is a endocrine tissue. Our body is not desiged to get rid of 100% of its fat, or for a very long time, for that matter. That’s not the best state of survival (and I am not talking about excessive body fat.) As you are getting rid of your fat, it takes you great efforts – consistent dieting, consistent work outs, strong will. WORK is ENERGY. When you ‘cut’ you spend your energy while already in the state of LOW energy. And of course your body doesn’t like it. It’s against the physical laws it had evolved under. That’s why it will always try to regain the energy back.

    And so it seems that it’s only your strong will that can hold the body in ‘desirable’ shape and against the physical laws… But how many people really have it?

    I think we shouldn’t despair though. There’s a possible solution. Our body is also evolved to reward us when it feels good, by secreting Dopamin. Rewarding feels good. When you drink your morning cup of coffee – it’s Dopamin. Chocolate you got used to after lunch – Dopamin. And some of us just can’t stop rewarding ourselves. But when you, by your sheer will, prohibit yourself all the tasty things the body used to to extract Dopamin on, it will drive you crazy from cravings, and you’ll eventually get back right into them – wine, cookies, ice cream, pizza.

    Your body can’t live without Dopamine. You get grumpy and unproductive. However, if completely deprived from Dopamine – it will start looking for NEW sources of it. And THAT’s the trick. If you learn to connect healthy lifestyle to pleasure – you WIN. If you connect activities you do while on a diet – schedule of work outs, occasional treats TO something pleasurable, cycling your calories (as Tom would say) – and if you do this long enough to form a habit – you are more likely to maintain achieved equillibrium. Cardio – run in the park between the greenery. Document your results lifting up your self esteem. Etc.etc. Whatever moves you. As Tom has mentioned before – it takes about a month to form a habit (and it’s the most difficult time) and after that, guess what – it gets easier.

    But I woud say, don’t let your body think you’re killing your fat. Fat is an endocrine tissue, it’s almost like a thyroid gland. Would you like to just shut down your thyroid? Probably not. So, don’t kill it – lower it to a certain degree, then follow this by a short cycle of gaining, so body doesn’t think it’s beginning of WW III and goes into panic mode. Dont’ starve it from Dopamine. Do the short cycles. The more months you spend dieting, the more months you’ll have to spend gaining… But if you’re not a professional bodybuilder, you dont have to ‘last’ that long. You probably won’t gain a hell of a lot of muscles in 1-2 months but over a LONGER period of time, your body is more likely to eventually fine tune itself to the desirable and natural equillibrium.

  • Tony

    The focus on a weight loss program and goals are always on a short term basis of loosing X pounds or kgs. Even if the program promotes lifestyle change this can only be achieved by the individual id they understand what that means. We all set the goals Once the goal is achieved the old habits slowly but stwadily creep back in. Next thing you are back to square 1. But this time it is more difficult to win as you know the effort it takes to loose the weight. So excuses come in and more weight is gained instead. I have done it too many times myself. The real focus should be on long term change of oneself. In short get your life back in order before its too late !

  • D. Logan

    Just let me say first of all, everybody is different. Keeping weight off is a battle, not if a war for a lot of people. I don’t eat right like I should, but I’m trying. I do get enough exercise, most of that from my job; involves a lot of walking. That being said, I believe the tried and true way to keeping weight off is diet and exercise. I have been eating fat burning foods that helps motivates my metabolism. It has been keeping me at a stable weight for several months now, thank goodness. I don’t want to embarrass myself by giving out my tonnage, but like Mr. Collins said dedication and willpower, I will be successful.

  • Nicely Explained! Actually Every time you eat, hormones are released into your body and the type of calories consumed (i.e. fat, carbohydrates or protein) determines which hormones are released.

  • Those no carb diets do not work.It just leaves sluggish and tired.Ive been increasing my protein and fiber intake. I workout 3 times a week and I have more energy.

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