I recently ran across this article while I was perusing the various Paleohack threads and it struck a chord in me.
About 6 months ago, I was working on a farm and got down to a "healthy" weight for my frame. I did this by eating pretty strict VLC paleo and being active all day. I've been overweight for my whole life, so it was a great to finally feel comfortable in my body.
However, once I moved off the farm, I began gaining weight pretty steadily. I definitely find myself eating more because I don't feel as satiated by nutrient-dense foods (eggs, meat, coconut) as I used to then. At this point I'm right back up where I started (about 20 lb overweight), and even though I eat well, my body seems very resistant to leaning out. It is very frustrating because I would think that my body would want to maintain that body fat level, but it almost feels like my body is rebelling. Why would it rebel from a period that was so healthy and energizing?
So, if it's true that intentional weight loss causes future weight gain, what is an overweight person to do? Do I just try to accept where my body is right now and try to be the healthiest I can be? Do I have to give up on getting back to that slimmer me that felt so good?
Honestly, JeezLouise, that is EXACTLY the decision I came to about 2.5 years ago. I decided that the issue wasn't how much I -weighed-, but the limits to what I could -do-, and I decided to work on -those- issues, instead of worrying about the weight.
Now, that being said, I -did- lose a substantial amount of weight on an ancestrally-sound diet, with a good bit of healthy activity (though no structured exercise program--I just go out and play... swimming, dance, yoga...). My goals weren't to lose weight, but I think my body decided that it could afford to drop SOME of the excess baggage -- the equivalent of an entire full-grown person, actually. Still, more important to me was that I exceeded my -real- goals, which were to restore as much of my lost mobility as possible (I have MS, so being 450 lbs with MS had resulted in almost NO remaining mobility), and to have more energy and be happier. I ended up losing a lot of weight, but my weight has now "stabilized" at a much higher weight than I thought I wanted to be at--however, I -still- have the energy, the flexibility, and the mobility that I was seeking, so I've decided not to worry about the scale, and to buy comfortable, pretty clothes in THIS size, and encourage myself to become stronger and healthier even if I don't lose another pound, through continued activity and finding new things that I enjoy doing.
I'd say not to stress so much about the weight -- work on strengthening yourself, finding activities you enjoy to replace the hard work you were doing when you were active, and continue to eat healthy food--just because it tastes good and is great for you, and makes you FEEL wonderful.
Have you thought about the activity levels? I find hard weight training, although I feel hungrier directly afterwards, to really depress my appetite overall. You might be eating more calories while burning less, which is going to lead to weight gain in general.
It's impossible to offer advice since we're all so variable on this, but I've picked up a few insights about myself that I can share--they may or may not work as clues for you.
On 4 cycles of "healthy" SAD diets and junk SAD rebounds, I definitely became highly skilled at getting fatter and fatter.
The differences I've seen in the past year compared to my yo-yo cycles are:
Bottom line: losing weight can indeed put you into "easy gain" mode but I am not absolutely convinced that you can't find a way to shift yourself back to "hard gain." I sure seem to have done so.
I think that the key to this article is that yo-yo dieting and losing weight just for the express purpose of weight less (ie not for your overall healthy, mood etc) shows that weight loss will most likely be negated by an even greater weight gain, as well as replacing lean tissue with adipose. I love his term "cosmetic weight loss", which is really what this gets down to- trying to get into a swim suit in a few months and killing yourself to lose a bunch of weight is an issue, and unfortunately that is what a lot of people still try to do when they head out to lose some weight.
There are major limitations to using weight as the predictor of health. The BMI system is horribly flawed for individual use (if you are female, Hispanic, African/African American, Asian, First Nations, Polynesian, stocky, athletic, or short, it does a particularly terrible job of predicting your "healthy" weight). I have only been at my "healthy" weight once in my adult life, and it was a miserable time of no menstruation and hair loss. My very athletic mother AND father both qualify as obese- my dad is an lifelong rugby player and my mom is a skilled mountain climber. The BMI and weight-based systems of measurement get under my skin, and I don't think there's any reason they should. There are much better predictors of health than a scale or a chart.
The very fact that there is yo-yo dieting attests to the fact that "cosmetic weight loss" is very unlikely to be successful. I think that in order to have long term successful weight loss, health needs to be tied into every aspect of your lifestyle and that you should focus on what FEELS best for you. In my experience, being 15-20 lbs above my "healthy" weight is the only way I can truly be healthy (then again, I am stocky as all get out). There is a lot of great advice from people on this forum on how to tweak aspects of the primal lifestyle for weight loss, so I would stalk all the past forums to collect new ideas. I think the most important part though is your attitude and outlook on what weight means to you and your health.
JeezL, you may get some benefit from checking out Leangains.com, which focuses on intermittent fasting and consistent (but pretty minimal) exercise of several heavy compound lifts. Some people doing LG like to add in cardio on some days as well. Anyway, the reason I'm suggesting it to you is because you can simply do the intermittent fasting component of LG and see a huge difference in stubborn fat deposits (i.e. they, uh, go away), without exercise. It may also help you to reset your personal hunger sensations and so on.
What's happening to my body? 9 Answers