You wake up one morning and decide to get serious about shedding off those extra pounds, so you log onto your favorite social media platform and find the perfect pair of joggers. You read the reviews and discover that many people swear by these products, which give you the inspiration to begin your healthy lifestyle change.
You begin making small changes to eating habits and working out, and notice an improvement in your physical appearance. You’re feeling happy and proud of yourself so you share your progress and encourage others to do the same.
You continue to lose weight and gain confidence, enjoying the ride but wishing it would go faster. At this point, you’re likely wondering why is it so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it. More importantly, how can you make the process go as quickly as possible?
The answer lies in biology and psychology. Let’s take a quick look at both, beginning with the basics of biology.
Biology: The Basics
When you eat foods with a high content of carbohydrates and fats, your body produces more insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use the glucose (sugar) from the food you eat. This in turn leads to an increased storage of fat in your body. As soon as you eat a food that contains carbohydrates, your body begins the process of breaking those down into glucose, which is then available for use by the body.
The interesting thing is that your body doesn’t actually need that much glucose to function normally. The brain, for instance, only needs about one-quarter of the glucose that is available in the blood to function. This is why it’s so easy for your body to absorb and store the excess glucose, leading to weight gain. The more glucose your body has, the fatter you become. Even when you’re at rest, your brain consumes about six percent of your body’s oxygen. This is why getting out of bed in the morning is so difficult – your body wants to remain in bed!
Let’s look at psychology for a moment.
Psychology: The Basics
The pursuit of losing weight can be motivated entirely within your head. When you set a goal to lose weight, you’re tapping into your own willpower, which is a human quality that helps you achieve difficult tasks. Studies have also shown that setting a deadline for the goal can speed up the process of achieving it. It’s all about psychology.
The Difference Between Willpower and Self-discipline
Willpower is a human quality that allows you to control your impulses and perform tasks that are outside of your natural abilities. Most people think of willpower when they hear the word ‘self-discipline’. Willpower is the ability to control your own behavior, while self-discipline is the ability to control how you spend your time. The following example illustrates the difference:
Let’s say you set out to lose weight and you decide that you’re going to work out five days a week for one year. You’ll need willpower to make this decision and follow through with it, but once you do, your self-discipline will take over and allow you to get the body you desire.
Why Is It So Easy to Gain Weight and So Hard to Lose It?
In the grand scheme of things, losing weight is extremely easy. As we’ve established, all you need is a diet and some exercise to drop a few pounds. But let’s examine why this is the case. First, when you set out to lose weight, you’re going to be overjoyed that it’s so easy to do. The majority of people who set out to lose weight never actually do so, so when presented with the opportunity, it’s easy to understand why.
Imagine how frustrating and demotivating it would be to commit to a healthy diet and regimen, only to have it vanish into thin air. You struggle with your weight for years and then one day you make the decision to change, and boom – you instantly shed the pounds. This is the reason it’s so easy to gain weight.
On the contrary, it is incredibly difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Once you’ve lost it, it’s easy enough to gain more. The reason it’s so hard to lose weight is that once you begin the process, you’ll experience a surge of pleasure as you realize how easy it is to eat what you want and how quickly you’re shedding the pounds. Once you’ve reached the point of no return and started gaining weight, it’s nearly impossible to stop. This is why it’s so hard to lose weight.
The Reward System
When you decide to follow a healthy diet and exercise program, your body begins to recognize this as a change in lifestyle and it prepares you for the task at hand. As you begin to shed the pounds, you’ll experience pleasure each time you eat a healthy meal or workout, which encourages you to continue this new way of living. This is the reason it’s so easy to gain weight – no dieting, no calorie counting, and no exercise required! All you need is a little willpower.
Easier to Resist Bad Habits Than Good Ones
Another important factor that influences your weight is your willingness to change bad habits versus good ones. If you’re not keen on changing some of your habits, it’s easy for them to sabotage your attempts at weight loss. The more you’re open to change, the easier it will be to lose weight. You’re more likely to stay focused on your goals and make healthier decisions. You don’t need to be convinced that a healthy lifestyle is the right one, you simply need to know that it’s an option and that you could engage in this new behavior.
Lose The Mental Fights
Have you ever tried to lose weight only to have your mental state get in the way? I’m sure you haven’t, because when you set out to lose weight, you’re usually in a good place mentally. However, once you’ve started changing and the novelty of the endeavor wears off, you begin to encounter challenges that stem from your mental state. For example, if you struggle with addiction or anxiety, trying to eat healthy may trigger unwanted habits.
Throwing off those extra pounds is a rewarding process, but if your mental state is sabotaging your efforts, it can be difficult to stay motivated. It’s important to recognize these mental fights for what they are and realize that your body is a temple that deserves your respect. When you respect it, it will give you the best service that it can, which is what you want in the first place.
At the end of the day, losing weight is extremely easy, because there are no rules against being thin — you simply need to have the motivation and the self-discipline to make it happen. On the contrary, keeping weight off is extremely difficult because there are so many rules against being overweight. If you want to be able to keep the weight off, you need to have the will and the self-discipline to follow whatever plan you might decide to create. One final thought, if you’ve decided to make a lifestyle change and begin losing weight, pat yourself on the back, because you’re doing the right thing.