Keeping the Weight Off

by | Jun 13, 2023

How do we maintain weight loss? 

Raise your hand if you have ever lost weight. Keep your hand up in the air if you’ve ever gained back the weight you lost. 

Is your hand still up? I thought so, mine too. That brings us to why. Why my podcast exists. Why I created Self Made is really to help solve the problem of, not just weight loss, but keeping it off. 

Let’s just say you’ve lost 30 pounds. Congratulations, fantastic, awesome. You’ve gone down in sizes. Your body looks different. You have a flat stomach or whatever things you can see now. No matter how good, how nutritious, or how reasonable the diet was, you’re going to lose some muscle mass.

The faster the weight loss, the chances are, it’s more muscle mass. 

Not more than fat. Let’s say for example, you lost 30 pounds but five of those pounds were actually muscle mass. Not a problem, that’s doable. I still lost 25 pounds of body fat. That’s still a lot of body fat. 

Muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat, it just takes up less space than fat, but here’s what happens. Let’s say we gain back the weight. This has happened. You had your hand up. I have my hand up. I’ve lost weight. I’ve gained it back. We gained back, let’s say the 30 pounds. Here’s the kicker, we do not get back the lost muscle. I’ve never really said it that way. 

I knew that it happened, that we lost muscle and our metabolic rate would set lower, but I never really put it together. Which is why sometimes, when we gain back weight you feel bigger, and that you’ve gained more. You feel like you have more body fat, and in truth, you probably do. You probably do have more body fat than the first time you lost that weight. The more we get into the cycle of losing and gaining and losing and gaining and losing and gaining, guess what. We keep losing that muscle mass and gaining back even more body fat. Plus potentially setting our metabolic rate to be lower. 

As you get older you’re more prone to lose that muscle mass because of declining hormones, especially if you do not strength train in order to preserve the muscle mass or to build new muscle mass. 

How do I change this?

If you want to lose weight and keep it off forever, we want to change this direction. We want to not go down this same path of just gaining and losing the same way, the same amount of weight and actually becoming fatter. To have more body fat and less muscle so then it becomes harder to lose the weight. We find ourselves at 45 or 55 years old saying wow, this is not the same game as it was when I was 25 or 30 or 35. It’s not because of our changing body composition. 

Part of success on your weight loss journey is going to be the honesty piece.

We just want to be crystal clear, transparent, honest about what has been going on. You’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not that only you have done this. It’s everywhere. That’s why weight loss statistics are where they’re at. If you’ve never looked up the weight loss statistics, you can go on Google right now. Type in weight loss statistics, how long do people keep the weight off? 

You know how many people keep the weight off? It’s not that good. I’ve seen and you’ve probably seen this too, that 97% of all people will gain back the lost weight within three years. I’ve seen something to the effect of 65% of all people will gain back the weight and only 1/3 will keep it off. There is a National Registry of Weight Loss because of scientists and doctors. There are studies and data about weight loss because this is the code to crack. 

Everybody’s trying to figure out weight loss.

  • How do we make it simple? 
  • How do we make it easy? 
  • How do we make it effective? 
  • How do we help everybody lose weight and keep it off? 

It’s not that simple sometimes, especially when we find ourselves having already gained and lost. We have to rebuild muscle, rebuild our metabolism, and figure out what is a reasonable amount to eat. That’s okay, we can do that. 

I’m going to go through just some quick points. I want to make sure that you walk away with doable action items. We can talk about weight loss all day long. We can. I love talking about it. 

We can talk about;

  • What’s good? 
  • What works? 
  • What doesn’t work? 
  • What to think? 
  • What not to think?
  • What to do?
  • What to eat? 
  • What not to eat? 

all of that stuff. But in the end, that’s not really moving us forward. We have to figure out what we are going to take action on, so let’s start at the beginning. 

I have a little checklist for us just to make sure I cover it all without being super sciency. If you like the science of weight loss, and you want to know all of the hormones, all the mechanisms, all of the things, there’s a lot of things that have to go right for long term weight loss, where we preserve more of that muscle mass and lose more of that body fat. Check out Sam Miller Science, and the Huberman Lab. Those are two great sources. Places I like to go for my information. I find it all very interesting and fascinating, because I am not a scientist, I am not a PhD, I am not even going to pretend. 

1) Our bodies do not want to lose weight. 

That is just something to keep in mind that our bodies, and our brains, are designed for self preservation. It’s not like my body is going to instantly shed body fat as soon as I start working out again or I go for a walk or I drink more water. Our bodies are not designed for that. Yes, we can see what seems like a quick or a fast weight loss when I take out all the carbs and my body loses a lot of water, but that’s not losing body fat. That is okay. I’m not opposed to that. 

2) Our bodies are designed with these cool things called fat cells.

Our body is all cells, lots of different cells with lots of different jobs. Fat cells have this really cool job of, you guessed it, holding body fat. When we lose body fat, we don’t lose the fat cell. The fat cell, however, has a job. It is there. There is, of course, messaging and signaling in our body. 

Fat cells are kind of without a job, they’re unemployed. They’re looking to be employed, if you know what I mean. So our body does have the prerogative to store body fat. In fact, at any given time during the day, as we’re eating food, our body is going through a lot of different mechanisms: sending fuel to our muscles, sending fuel to our liver, sending fuel to our fat cells and fat storage. We go through this cycle over and over. 

3) Is there a setpoint? 

Yeah, there is. Evolutionary adaptation is a set point where our bodies are going to just slow down on weight loss. Especially if you have lost 30, 40, 50, 60 pounds. The greater the weight loss, the more the body is going to try to adapt. 

Adaptation sounds like it’s a good thing, right? I want to adapt. It’s like I’m in a new environment and I go to college, I hope I adapt, and I make friends.

4) Metabolic adaptation.

Is your body getting really good at actually not losing weight and figuring out Oh, wow, this lady is going to try to exercise and eat less. Maybe we should try to keep up with her efforts and slow the fuck down. That’s the metabolic adaptation. 

When it comes to fat loss, we want our bodies to be more inefficient. The adaptive our body means that our body is like oh, let’s reset the metabolism to make sure that we do not lose fat too quickly. 

5) Fast weight loss. 

Here’s the big takeaway. If I could give you any one gift, it would be fast weight loss. I’m sure that if I gave you slow weight loss, you would probably be like, I want to return that gift. That’s the worst gift ever. But fast weight loss does put us at risk for more muscle loss. 

I’m going to give you a little bit of an analogy. I call this the fire alarm analogy. 

Imagine a fire alarm goes off in your house. Your brain is signaling you and you’ve got adrenaline and cortisol. Our whole body is responding to the alarm. We gotta get out and we gotta get out fast. We’re only going to take so much with us. We’re only going to take ourselves and our pets. All the humans and animals are going to get out. I’m not going to spend time looking through the shelf. Where’s my passport? Where’s my school books from 1982? Where’s my favorite stuffy or grandma’s grandma’s afghan? I’m going to get out.

Fast weight loss is kind of like that. We’re in such a hurry that, yeah, we lose weight. We get out. But we also leave behind important things like muscle. In a real fire alarm we leave it all behind. Things can be replaced. Replacing lost muscle mass is not necessarily easy, especially as we age and we have less naturally occurring testosterone, for example. So we want to preserve as much muscle mass as possible. 

I use the word mass like muscle mass. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to be massive. You’ll actually be smaller with more muscle. Muscle takes up less space. If I had two pillowcases of the same size. In one pillowcase, I put 10 pounds of body fat. In the next pillowcase, I put 10 pounds of lean muscle mass. The pillowcase filled with body fat is going to be stuffed to the brim. It’s just big and hard to get my hands around. It just takes up more space, it’s a very full pillow. Although the pillows weighed the same, the pillow with the muscle mass is smaller. It’s kind of like a small, teeny, tiny flat pillow. That’s really the difference in our bodies too. 

You can have muscle mass and it not be muscle mass. I’m not massively filled with muscles, it is just about having a leaner, smaller look. Sometimes with weight loss, when we lose a lot of muscle, and we lose some fat. Sometimes we just look like a smaller version of ourselves, we don’t necessarily see any muscle tone. We don’t necessarily see the definition that we’d hoped for. 

Some of you may not be familiar with strength training and some of you may love strength training. Wherever you are, on the spectrum of muscle or strength training, know that you want to have muscle and you want to preserve as much muscle as you can. It doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to do that. 

6) Seasons of weight loss. 

I had a podcast about this idea of when to loosen and when to tighten up your weight loss instead of I’m on a diet or I’m off a diet or I’m on track or I’m off track. 

What if there are just times, seasons as it were, that;

  • I’m paying more attention. 
  • I am logging my food.
  • I’m tracking my food. 
  • I’m planning my food. 
  • I’m keeping a weight loss journal. 
  • I’m being more mindful, attentive. 
  • I’m really trying to cut out more processed foods. 
  • I’m being more aware of what I’m eating.

And that can mean different things for different people. 

Many of my clients will take three, four, or five months to be like, Okay, we’re trying to lose body fat, and we’re trying to come up with what will work. However, that is going to require a deficit of calories, and probably some level of exercise. It doesn’t mean I do that all year long, forever and ever because my body will adapt. My body is going to figure out, okay, this is the new normal, she’s only going to eat this much and we’re going to do this much exercise. So let’s reset ourselves. 

We want to look at weight loss and weight loss maintenance in the long term. That can mean in the course of, let’s say, one year, and even the four seasons of the year. It doesn’t mean all summer long, I eat and drink my face off and gain 15 pounds. Then I come back in the fall, and I lose 15 pounds. Not like that. Not like we’re probably already doing or have done.

It’s about, am I going on vacation? Am I going to have a different plan than when I get back? Or am I actually taking the next three, four months to be very serious? Be more structured? Then I loosen that up a little bit and see how I do with this particular calorie level? I’m not going to change it. I’m going to see, could I add more calories back? 

The secret sauce of maintenance is that we don’t go from being on a diet, reducing calories, increasing activity, only to completely reverse it. That does not work. I’ve said before. You don’t arrive on weight loss Island, and just magically maintain it. Oh, I’ve lost the weight, I’ve arrived, here I am. My weight is frozen at this number and nothing I do will affect that. 

Your body would love to gain back weight. Now is the time that we try to see how we do with this level of calories, this level of food, and see how that works. It’s not about taking away more, diet harder, workout more and more and more and more and more. That really does not work long term, we can’t keep going and going and going. 

When we are looking to lose weight, and we are quote unquote dieting, we keep trying to turn the knob. We tried to turn it up and try to get it off and try to be faster and try to crack the code, only to find that it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes we have to take our foot off the gas pedal. It doesn’t mean slamming on the brakes. It doesn’t mean eat whatever you want. It means Okay, can I hang out here and let my body adjust?

I don’t want to keep taking away things. I don’t want to keep eating less. I don’t want to work out harder, because my body is only going to adapt to that and catch up. 

7) Evaluate your goal. 

  • Am I doing too much? 
  • Is this sustainable? 
  • Can I keep doing what I’m doing long term? 
  • What would I change? 
  • What needs to change?
  • What will I keep? 

One of the things they teach you when you go get a personal training certificate is sort of these principles of exercise. How to program exercise. It’s called, like the F.I.T.T. Principle. It’s an acronym. F.I.T.T.  frequency, intensity, type and time. It is how I look at, not just exercise, how I’m eating, what I’m eating, how long I’m going to hold a certain deficit.  

I can’t indefinitely keep ratcheting things down or ratchet things up. I do want to evaluate.  When I look at exercise, or look at how I’m eating, I look at it through this F.I.T.T. Principle lens. It’s very simple. 

F is for frequency. So for example, when it comes to working out, there’s only seven days in a week. 

  • How often am I walking? 
  • How often am I strength training? 
  • How often am I doing yoga or whatever I’m doing? 
  • Do I need to do more? 
  • Do I need to do less? 

Believe it or not, sometimes you need to scale back. Not go from working out five days a week to zero necessarily, but do I need to maybe cycle that a little bit? Maybe week one I’m in the gym five days, week two is four days, week three is three days Then I ramp it back up to four to five. There’s a lot of different ways to do that without making it complicated.

I is for intensity. That goes for, not just how you workout but;

  • How quickly you’re working out. 
  • How many sets.
  • How long you take for rest. 
  • How heavy the weights are that you’re lifting. 

but even the intensity of how you’re approaching your weight loss, type and timeframe.

  • How long are we going to do this program? 
  • Is this eight weeks? 
  • Is this 10 weeks? 
  • Is this 12 weeks? 
  • Do I evaluate every four weeks? 

Type will not just apply to what kind of workout it is but also what kind of program and how you’re eating.

  • Are you trying to eat low carb? 
  • Are you trying to eat high carb? 
  • Are you carb cycling? 
  • Are you trying to be more plant based? 
  • Are you trying to have more of a balanced plate? 
  • Are you trying to limit processed foods?

The idea of the type is you picking your lane that is going to work for you. 

When it comes to weight loss maintenance, one of the things that I think happens as we are losing weight and thinking about keeping it off is that it is really easy to ignore the basics. I come back to the basics a lot. My basics don’t have to be your basics. You could have your basics, your basic standard. I think if we’re really talking about wanting to maintain our lost weight, creating the basics that are the foundation of who we are and how we live our life.

Example. This is used quite a bit when we talk about weight loss, this example of brushing your teeth. Most of us would probably agree that brushing our teeth is a basic. It’s a basic thing we do. Whether we do it once a day or twice a day or three times a day or four times a day, it’s just a basic hygiene thing. I have so many stories about my kids and their teeth. We went to the dentist the other day. As soon as my daughter sat down in the chair, I had this realization that she didn’t brush her teeth and I was horrified. My kids are having a really tough time with their teeth and I think it’s because we don’t have fluoride. We are on well water here. 

My other daughter, when we were getting ready for bed told her I said hey, you need to brush your teeth. She’s like, Yeah, you know what, I brushed my teeth the other day. Anyway, I digress. 

Your basics probably are brushing your teeth every day, and not a couple of days ago. You know, my basics for me are always working on sleep. Making sure I have at least seven hours of sleep. My basics are drinking water and that I wish I had a constant of a half gallon or gallon a day. Oftentimes, it’s only 40 ounces. I definitely have water by my computer every single day. I have a water bottle in my car. I try to make drinking water super easy as a basic. 

The reason for having these basics is that we want to have things that become habits for us that we carry forward to help make weight loss and weight loss maintenance easy. That we’re not trying to do these really long, fast or take 7000 supplements that we’re not going to be able to do long term. So again, sleep, water. 

For me walking is a basic. Getting those steps in is a real basic for me. Paying attention to my physical hunger is a basic for me. Planning my meals is a basic for me. 

You want to make your list of basics. If you’re unsure of what they are, think about what could be your foundation, or start with one thing. If you don’t have a basic foundation for things that you do on the daily, maybe it is just sleep, maybe it is just water. Then you really practice that one thing every day, rather than here’s a list of 22 basics. 

Usually for basics, you probably want three to five things. I wouldn’t do more than five or six. Otherwise, it becomes a really complex protocol. I’m all for changing protocols and doing different things along our weight loss journey, but I always want to come back to the basics. I think the basics sometimes tend to fall out when we’re in maintenance. We forget all the things that we did to lose the weight to begin with. Don’t ignore the basics. 

9) Making lots of changes all the time. 

This sometimes happens when we’re really using the scale and that we’re constantly reacting to the number on it. So that there are some days that we’re not eating at all, we’re withholding meals. Or we’re going to over eat. Or we’re going to do all the workouts and then we’re going to do none of the workouts. Then that’s not a good workout, and I’m going to change the workouts. I’m going to change this, I’m going to change that.

That is very enticing. There is a part of us that thinks as long as I keep changing, my body will never adapt, but that never works. Then we never get to learn what works for us. What do we like? What can we sustain? 

You don’t have to make a ton of changes, I promise you that you don’t. You know want to make an evaluation. It’s not necessarily always going to be reflected on the scale. It is hard to know what works. 

It’s very hard to know, 

  • Was it the supplements? 
  • Was it that I got sleep or that I didn’t get sleep? 
  • Was it because I’m constipated? 
  • Was it because I’m having gastric upset? 
  • What is going on? 

Too many changes is something that I think also keeps us constantly thinking about food, dieting, our weight, the workout. It’s just constant and it never lets us actually become a woman who keeps the weight off. 

We’re caught in a cycle of;

  • I have to lose weight, 
  • I need to lose weight, 
  • I’m trying to lose weight, 
  • Weight loss is way out there for me, 
  • I’m trying,
  • I have to try all the things. 

Rather than let me start where I’m at, practice the basics, not try to go too fast, and make it so that everything I do to lose weight is sustainable.

It doesn’t mean that there are times that I won’t have pizza or times that I’ll decide not to have pizza, but by and large. I want to come up with a plan that allows me to fuel my body to not stress my body out. To lose primarily body fat and to preserve as much as much muscle as I can. 

10) Perfectionism

We can easily get lost In thinking that we have to have a good mindset, that we have to do everything perfectly. That we can’t fail, that we have to be positive and be happy. The truth is, you can lose weight and keep it off and not be positive, not be perfect, not have it all figured out. 

It is easy to fall down that hole, where we start to doubt ourselves and think that we need to know more. We need all of these different things. We start to make this bigger and bigger. 

Sometimes I think about taking the mindset piece of weight loss and comparing it to decluttering. If you ever have decluttered your closet or a drawer, or when your kids go to school you throw away all their toys. If you live with other people, other people’s clutter is actually way more annoying than your own clutter. If you’ve ever organized a medicine cabinet or a pantry or something like that, you know, one way to be successful is just to declutter one small area at a time. That’s the same thing as unpacking your mindset. 

Rather than I want to open Pandora’s box and pull everything out. Examine it all from top to bottom. Find all the things that are wrong with me, all the things I need to have fixed and, make everything into this big colossal problem. Just focus on one small shelf at a time. I’m going to do one shelf. I know there are other shelves. I know there are other things to address. I don’t have to do it all. Instead of opening Pandora’s box, I can actually take all the mindset stuff and put it in a box, I can gift wrap it, I can put a bow on it, and I can park it in the corner. At the right time, I can just unpack pieces of it.

We can get really sidetracked and it kind of looks like this, I know what to do, but I’m just not doing it right. It becomes this sort of cycle of self sabotage, where we are judging ourselves and beating ourselves up. Even the idea of, I can’t believe I have to lose weight again. How did I get here? Why is this happening? This isn’t fair. This is my genetics or my hormones are all out of whack. We actually end up perpetuating a lot of the problem, just from getting stalled out in the mindset. 

There’s a phrase for it, it’s kind of like this mental masturbation. If you find yourself getting sort of caught in those rabbit holes. Whether it is surfing the internet for the next answer, beating yourself up, trying to force yourself to have all this willpower, or to become this whole other person that you’re not yet and then feeling bad about that. I want you to know that you can lose weight, and you can keep it off. 

No matter the statistics that are out there. No matter anything that has happened before.No matter what your actual body composition is right now, even if you have higher body fat or less muscle than you desire, you can change that. How you do it is day by day. 

Taking one day at a time and not trying to do all of the things. Really focus in on the basics, focus. Focus on eating real food.  I know we can hone in even tighter on that. 

I don’t want this to be me prescribing an exact plan for you. I think whether you learn to plan your meals in advance, or you actually keep a food journal, it will be very eye opening for you. I truly and sincerely want to help you not just lose the weight, but actually keep it off, and to enjoy the ride. 

The ride doesn’t have to be fast, it doesn’t have to be thrilling or exhilarating. You don’t even have to be in a good mood all the time. You can be who you are, and still lose weight. You don’t have to change everything about yourself in order to keep it off. You don’t have to be rah, rah, enthusiastic. You don’t have to love working out. You don’t have to love every aspect of weight loss, but you do have to actually love yourself. You have to love yourself enough to prioritize yourself and say you know what, regardless of the past, I’m here for it. I can lose weight and I can keep it off. It doesn’t have to be fast. In fact, my body and brain will be a lot happier when I don’t try to stomp down the gas and make this painful and somewhat predictable. 

I hope that was helpful to you. I had so much on my mind about weight loss maintenance, and how to actually be in a 3% of women who keep the weight off and you know still eat the pizza and still get the birthday cake and still live their lives. 


Raise your hand if you have ever lost weight. Now…keep your hand up in the air if you’ve ever gained back the weight you lost. Is your hand still up? I thought so, mine too.

Would you like to know how many people keep the weight off? It’s not that good…97%! That means that only 3% of people lose weight and then keep that weight off. Everybody is literally trying to figure out weight loss. Asking things like:

How do we make it simple?

How do we make it easy?

How do we make it effective?

How do we help everybody lose weight and keep it off?

But yet here we stand with 97% of people gaining back the weight that they lose. Well, you know me. I’m not one to back down. So I’m just not going to stand for it. Let’s talk about how you can lose weight and keep it off in episode 48 of Unf*ck Your Weight Loss now!


Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.

Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on. Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience.

Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.

By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.

Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you unf*ck your diet brain.

She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.

Connect with Bonnie:

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