Why is losing weight so difficult? Whether it is just a few extra pounds between our current status and our goal, or many more pounds, losing weight is a difficult task. For most of us the phrase, "The Spirit is Willing, but the Flesh is Weak," is a harsh reality.
The natural operation of our bodies seems to favor fat gain-a task that is easy for almost everyone. As we gain weight and the longer we keep it on, our bodies make it harder to lose. Although no studies have indicated how long a certain level of fat has to be maintained before the body perceives it as its normal state, it is clear that the body will quickly view the added weight as its normal state and will strive to maintain it. This process is known as homeostasis.
The only way to truly lose weight is by either reducing your caloric intake, or increasing your caloric burn rate, or a combination of both. There are 3,500 calories on average in one pound of fat. Thus, if you eat an extra 3,500 calories over the amount you burn, you will gain one pound of fat. Luckily, the reverse is also true. As you reduce your caloric intake through dieting, or increase your caloric burn rate through exercise, or combine both processes, the body will fight to keep the weight on by craving fatty, sugary foods or waging a "don’t do it" campaign against your mind. Only the most determined and motivated individuals are able to win this battle with homeostasis to lose weight and keep it off.
Strangely, restricting our caloric intake, exercising regularly, and controlling our weight leads to a much higher quality of life by enhancing our immune system, delaying age related illness, and maintaining healthier organs. It is ironic that we must battle with our own bodies to realize these benefits and if we do not engage in that battle, our bodies will work to put on weight, the result of which is diminished circulation, heart-related illness, diabetes, and joint problems.
It is clear that to overcome homeostasis (lose weight and keep it off), there is no sustained "quick fix." A lifestyle change must occur.