From both my experience and the studies we can see some common trends that occur across most people over a timeline of months to years. As always, these are general principles and may not always apply to your specific situation.
The first period is from the start to about 6 months. This is when you will lose the weight more easily with some relatively simple changes like reducing how much you eat, eating higher quality food like vegetables and eating less processed foods and moving a bit more. You can lose weight fast like more than 4-8kg a month or slowly like 1kg a month in this period, but this is generally when it is easier. I will tell you right now – your weight will fluctuate, your motivation will go up and down and you will have good days and bad days – that is ok! Just keep going. If you have one bad meal, that is ok, just immediately get back onto eating well. It is not a single trip that will make you fail, it is not getting back up.
Then we have the 6-12 month period. This is a really crucial period to keep the weight off because a lot of people put the weight back on during this period. I don’t necessarily think you have to lose weight quickly if you do great but if you don’t then just keeping it off and stable is a win because the key in this period is to not go back to old habits. This is a period for creating new habits and new automatic processes. I talk about some of the biological reasons for this in the videos later but also there are psychological and social reasons as well.
From my experience what happens is a lot of people feel satisfied with how they have done, so they think “well I can relax just a bit”, and this starts a slippery slope and they just keep making exceptions. And eventually, they end up eating, moving, thinking exactly the same as they did when they started, or sometimes worse because now they feel a bit more self-defeat, shame or hatred, which makes everything worse.
The other thing they did wrong in this 6-12 month period is they did not aim to make their weight loss a new way of life and break the old cycles. They just used pure willpower for 6 months. I have said it again and again – weight loss is not a goal, it is a journey. When we live a way of life that is healthy, weight loss comes a result. We need to ingrain these new habits so they are our way of life, they are automatic, so you don’t have to try that hard anymore. Remember, this is long term change we want.
And finally, people don’t go deep enough. They think weight loss is only about food and exercise and maybe if you are lucky it is only about that. But for so many people I see it is about our mindsets or emotional states, or social situations like the habits of their families or loneliness and there is a myriad of other factors I will discuss in other videos. If you want to be healthy and lose weight, you have to confront these things and you may need professional help to do that.
Ok, then you have your 12-24 month period. There is evidence that those who can keep their weight off for 1-2 years can more easily keep it off for more years to come. This is further supported by the National Weight Registry Study I discussed in the last video where those who have lost at least ~13 kg or 28 lbs of weight and kept it off for at least one year have continued to lose weight with an average loss of ~30kg or 66 lbs and kept it off for five and a half years when joining the registry. If you persist during this period and keep the weight off and continue to lose, slowly or quickly, then you are more likely now to have ingrained those new ways of life, learnt some new practical and psychological skills, the brain has changed, the body has changed and the hormonal cycles may have been partly reset.