Q. I have read the research that the majority of those who lose weight, especially from dieting, typically gain it all back in 2-3 years and often more than they lost. Okay, I’ve not only read the study abstracts but also have lived this type of weight yo-yo existence for years—although I don’t understand it. 

A. As with most things, the answer appears to reside in the brain. When people “go on a diet” to lose weight, they usually change their routine patterns of behavior around food and beverages (and sometimes around exercising, as well) for a short period. They usually manage to drop a few pounds, even if most of it is in fluid. The brain knows that the “being on a diet” is basically a short-term fix and so it plays along. When the “dieting” stops, the brain heaves and sigh of relief—literally as well as metaphorically (because it missed the “rewards” around food and beverages that it was accustomed to  receiving.) Gradually, the individuals slip back into their former well-established routines and little by little the weight starts to climb.

Since everything begins in the brain, the other option is to slowly and steadily alter your daily routines and habits about food, beverages, and lifestyle. You tell your brain, “Joe, you are on board with this way to eat, sleep, exercise, and live. You like it. You feel good.” As you create and maintain a longevity lifestyle, this can re-wire your brain to support the healthier way of living. Gradually you begin moving toward a more desirable weight range and because there is nothing to “stop,” (e.g., you are doing this for the rest of your life and you tell your brain this is not only what it can do but also what you expect it to do), living at your optimum weight becomes easier and easier.

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