It has become common knowledge by now that the vast majority of people who lose weight (between 70-98% depending on the study), regain it within 18 months (and then some!). We’ve watched mega celebrities like Oprah go through it, not to mention more minor ones like Kirsty Alley. The solution has always seemed very straightforward: Why not just reach your goal weight and then set yourself a “margin” of weight regain (say 5 lbs.), from which point you just get right back on that wagon and lose the 5 lbs. This seems to be the standard approach that most weight-loss programs propose, and it makes intuitive sense. And if you listen to people who have regained all their massive weight plus a few extra pounds, this was their intent too!

But I realized today why this doesn’t work: The first few days on any “regime” (I hate the word diet and refuse to ever use it again except in its scientific form as a “way of eating”) are absolutely the toughest. Can you imagine setting up this 5 lb margin and having to constantly yo-yo through this Hell every couple of weeks? It must be absolutely exhausting! “So I’ve reached my desired weight and can start eating like a normal human being again. Oops, man did that 5 pounds come on fast. O.K., time to start the torture again”, like some form of water-boarding.

In fact, most serial weight-losers will tell you that each time you lose and regain the weight, it becomes tougher and tougher to restart the process. After 2-3 excursions, most people simply can’t do it again and become relegated to a life of overweight.