by David Frey
Innumerable amounts of opinions are floating around the internet about how to finally achieve long term, sustainable weight loss.
Some weight loss gurus espouse that it’s the type of diet that makes all the difference.
Other fitness gurus will tell you it’s the type of workout that will help you achieve sustainable weight loss.
A common formula that you read about and hear from health experts is called the 80/20 Rule, which says that 80% of your weight loss success will come from your diet and 20% will come from exercise.
However, this completely ignores the most important factor in weight loss.
The following five facts reveal the most critical factor when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off long term.
FACT #1 – Around 70% of People Who Lose Weight End Up Gaining It Back.
In a study(1) of weight-loss patterns in over 177,000 people it was found that after two years, around 70% of the participants regained their weight back.
Many other studies have corroborated this fact. Dr. Joanna Huang, PharmD, the lead research scientist in this study said, “Many patients regain weight after their initial loss; and even after a period of weight loss, most people become ‘cyclers’ (i.e. yo-yo dieters) who regain weight or experience inconsistent losses and gains.”
FACT #2 – To Maintain The Weight You’ve Lost Requires You To Create Healthy Habits.
In a study(2) by researchers from Australia found that habit-based weight-loss interventions resulted in better weight-loss maintenance over a 12 month period.
This is no surprise. Nearly every weight loss expert on the planet will tell you that the only truly sustainable way to lose weight, get healthier, and maintain your slim body is to change your habits.
FACT #3 – To Create Healthy Habits You Have To Repeat Healthy Behaviors Over and Over Again Until They Become Habits.
Dr. Wendy Wood, a psychology researcher stated that, “Habits emerge through associative learning. “We find patterns of behavior that allow us to reach goals. We repeat what works, and when actions are repeated in a stable context, we form associations between cues and response.
Repetition is key. Studies(3) have shown it can take anywhere from 15 days to 254 days to truly form a new habit.”
Basically, what Dr. Wood is saying is that to create habits, you have to repeat the behavior that you want to turn into habit many times.
Simple habits can be formed within 15 – 60 days. More complex habits require more time for greater repetition. Complex habits can take up to or more than a year to establish.
FACT #4 – The Average Person Does Not Have Enough Sheer Willpower To Repeat Healthy Behaviors Long Enough To Create A Habit.
Research(4) has shown 92% of those who make New Years resolutions give up after just a few months.
This dismal statistic is a result of the immense amount of sheer willpower required to repeat healthy behaviors.
For the average person, it’s just too hard to repeat a new health related behavior long enough for it to become a habit.
FACT #5: “Willpower Systems” Reduce Your Need for Sheer Willpower, Enabling You to Repeat Your Healthy Behaviors Long Enough So They Become Long Term, Sustainable, Healthy Habits.
Willpower Systems™ are small processes and systems that make it easier to perform a healthy behavior that you do not want to do, when you need to do it.
Willpower Systems make it much easier to repeat a healthy behavior, which helps you to repeat that behavior over and over again.
Willpower Systems™ make healthy behaviors easier to repeat because they significantly reduce the amount of sheer willpower needed to repeat the behaviors.
I wrote a book titled, “The Willpower Secret” that explains in more detail how Willpower Systems™ are the secret key to can finally giving you the willpower you need to create long term healthy habits in your life.
FACT #6 – The More You Repeat Your Healthy Behaviors the Stronger Your Willpower Becomes.
Even though it’s hard to create a healthy related habit, the more you repeat the behavior, the stronger your willpower becomes, and the more able you are to establish a habit.
Australian scientists Dr. Megan Oaten and Dr. Ken Cheng performed an experiment(5) that showed how willpower can be strengthened through behavior repetition.
The researchers assigned volunteers to a two-month program of physical exercise — a routine that required willpower.
At the end of two months, participants who had stuck with the program did better on a lab measure of self-control (i.e. willpower) than participants who were not assigned to the exercise regimen.
This study showed that as you repeat your healthy behaviors, your willpower will get stronger.
The stronger your willpower becomes, the less you need it to repeat your healthy behaviors. Eventually, your behaviors become automatic and that’s when habits are formed.
And it’s your healthy habits that will finally help you achieve a sustainable, slim, healthy body for life.
1. Joanna Huang, PharmD, senior manager of health economics and outcomes research at Novo Nordisk Inc. in Plainsboro, New Jersey – Science Daily: “Most people cycle and regain weight, and those who lose most are most likely to keep it off” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160402112741.htm
2. Dr. Gina Cleo, Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD Australia – International Journal of Obesity, “Habit-based interventions for weight loss maintenance in adults with overweight and obesity: a randomized controlled trial.”
3. Dr. Wendy Wood, Society for Personality and Social Psychology. “How we form habits, change existing ones.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140808111931.htm
4. Dr. John C. Norcross, University of Scranton, “Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year’s Resolvers and Nonresolvers”
5. Oaten, M., & Cheng, K. 2006b. Longitudinal gains in self-regulation from regular physical exercise. British Journal of Health Psychology, 11 (4), 717–33.