We’ve seen it happen with everybody from celebs like Kirstie Alley and Janet Jackson, to former Biggest Loser contestants—heck, even one of the most powerful women in the world, Oprah Winfrey, can’t seem to maintain weight loss. Losing the weight is only half the battle; keeping it off for good is another story.
So why is it so darn hard to keep the weight off?
Our bodies are hard-wired to fight off starvation. You can thank our ancestors for this one—losing weight used to be very undesirable. A drop in our caloric intake used to mean famine and that food may not be available for a long time. And even though we now live with mega-grocery stores on every corner, our bodies are still programmed to react to a caloric deficit the same way.
“Our bodies were designed to store energy efficiently,” Olson says. “So, even if you are overweight, your body is very attuned to what has been ‘normal’ for an extended time period, and to prevent any possibility of being in a state of starvation, your body has many mechanisms that trigger it to hold on to whatever body weight you’re at.”