Why We Don’t Lose Weight and Keep It Off Forever?

by | Nov 27, 2023

Today I’m answering the $64,000 question, why don’t women lose weight and lose it forever? If there’s so many different diets, and they all work, then what gives? It’s not because you’re fucked up or you’re doing it wrong. It’s something is fucked up and I want to help unravel that with you. 

A couple of things before I dive in, I have six points to go over in the why don’t women lose weight and lose it forever? I said last weeks topic was the most important one, well this one is the second most important. Last week was really more about strategy, how to just automate eating. Let’s get out of the food drama, the recipe drama, the Pinterest drama, that I need to make it sexy drama, and most of our meals are pretty much just repeats of the meals we’ve had before. So that we can have enough energy, enough calories, enough protein, enough muscle, and feel pretty good. That’s what that is all about. 

Today we are really going to talk about what’s under that. I get it. If you do have a problem metabolically, if you do have a problem with emotional eating, or stress eating, the best plan, the best go to meals are going to be hard to access. I think if last week was kind of like, Man, I don’t see what she’s talking about. I don’t know how this is the best one, then this is where I would focus is really looking metabolically. Where are you a from a mindset perspective?

Let’s start at the beginning……. 

1) Unsustainable Diets

I’m going to say there’s something in the method that is flawed. Whatever diet that you picked might have been unsustainable. Unsustainable diets that you cannot follow and hate aren’t going to be something that you’re going to do forever. 

When I look at plans, diets, things like that many of my clients have had experience eating fake foods, not having any tools introduced. 

  • How do I eat in real life? 
  • How do I eat on vacation?
  • How do I eat for being sick? 
  • Or in restaurants? 
  • Or work travel? 

It’s pretty much eat this and don’t eat that. And it doesn’t matter. 

If you have to fly to Belgium, it doesn’t matter. If your dog has to go to the vet, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what your real life is. Most diets are really going to be geared at providing fast weight loss and eating way too little food. 

I’m gonna give a quick little story and I know I’ve mentioned this interaction, but I had a new realization about it. Many years ago, I want to say 2011 or 2012. I had a client and she had been one of the women who had completed a program at my gym. So we get to the end and she’s lost 20 pounds and she says Okay, so now what? I remember this so clearly, she’s looking at me. “Now what?” And I said, “what do you mean, now what?” She said, “well, now what do I do? Do you give me a maintenance diet?” I was like, “no, we just keep doing this. We do exactly what we have been doing to continue to lose weight”

This is the realization I had for me, I didn’t look at the plan as a diet, I looked at the plan as a lifestyle. This is something I can continue 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time would be birthday cake or vacations or what have you. For the most part, this is how I eat every day and it’s not a problem. It’s lots of quality protein and vegetables and all about “eating clean.” For me, it was very sustainable. For other people, it might not have been.

For other people, it might have been something that felt harder, or required more brain power. I don’t know specifically if she ever felt hungry, or if she was using a lot of willpower to do this. If she was eating less than I suggested, that obviously could happen. That’s the conversation I didn’t have because I didn’t really think about it in that way I couldn’t really understand why she’d be looking for something different. Why would you want to do something different? 

Then the conversation was maintenance looks exactly what you did to lose the weight. Then maybe you color outside the lines a little bit. That’s where things usually get off track. If we don’t have practice, and we don’t have coaching, and we don’t track anything, then we don’t know what color outside the lines a little bit looks like. It can, obviously go the opposite way where we go from a life of I’m either dieting or I’m not dieting. I’m either all in or all out. I don’t know the middle ground at all. I have no experience in that. 

Most diets really do have us cutting out too much food. That’s how you can lose 2, 3, 4 pounds a week. That’s how you can get faster weight loss. There’s all different kinds of ways to do this, you could be cutting out whole food groups, you could be using a very small eating window. Intermittent fasting isn’t a special diet. It’s really just saying you’re only going to eat one meal a day, or you’re only going to eat in this 4, 6 or 8 hour window where you’re going to fast for 24 hours every other day. That, for me, is unsustainable. I don’t want to be so hungry. It has us ignoring our bodies and not listening to hunger signals. That’s really what screws us up. 

The method is flawed if you’re not keeping the weight off. It’s because the way in which you chose to lose the weight is not sustainable. Now, here’s the thing, I would consider myself a very good coach, I am known as a very good coach. A good coach recognizes and understands for their clients that 24/7 365 days out of the year are not going to be all about fat loss. All about changing the macros or lowering the calories or playing with the plan and trying to eat less and move more and all that stuff. There might be a time for that. There might be 30 days, 60 days, 3 or 4 months or whatever. There might be a time period where that is the focus. 

Then other time periods are about building muscle or maintaining muscle or just maintaining in general practicing living at a certain body composition or a certain weight. I know it’s very tempting to go back to diets, the same diets from before, the same diets where we did lose the weight fast, we’re going to continue in a cycle that is going to be unsustainable. In fact, what happens when we keep trying to go back to the undereating and over exercising, our weight loss becomes slower and slower and slower. 

2) Metabolic Adaptation

When you’re really asking what’s wrong with my metabolism? What has probably happened is what is supposed to happen. It’s called metabolic adaptation. It’s what our bodies are designed to do. 

When I talk about how our bodies are not going to prioritize fat loss or loss of weight in general, it’s because of adaptation. Our bodies don’t want to give up the fuel, the fat cells, the fat stored. Our bodies are thinking we probably need that for a reason. Our bodies do get confused sometimes, but it is because that’s the input that we’re giving it. Send it down these roads where I’m constantly dieting and then binging or I’m constantly trying to do too much working out. I’m trying to do harder, better, faster, longer, all the workouts. My body is probably going too slow down my metabolism. I’m also going to reduce muscle mass. 

A slowing down of my metabolic rate, like a slower thyroid function, is going to have a big effect on me not continuing to lose weight. I’m going to hit a lot of plateaus, or a place where I cannot break out of it without dropping my calories significantly lower. Which will just increase the problem. 

3) Imbalanced Hormones

Which will bring us to a place called imbalanced hormones. Depending on who you are, how old you are, how long you’ve been dieting, there are a lot of factors, it’s not the same outcome for every person. For some women this might never happen. For some women this happens rather quickly. It just depends on the person. 

When we have this love affair with dieting, and trying to eat as little as possible and move as much as possible and we end up burning up our muscle mass and slowing down our thyroid function, we’re going to have other issues. We’re going to see this in cortisol and insulin and how those are climbing up. It will make us feel very tired and have a lot of cravings. 

The imbalance in the cortisol and insulin will have us not really sleeping that well and it will affect our sex hormones, depending on your age. If you’re a younger person and you still have a menstrual cycle, how this could turn up for you is that you will start missing periods or have irregular cycles. For other women, this could send you into perimenopause or menopause a little bit earlier than you expected. 

For those of you who’ve heard of adrenal fatigue, and I know some practitioners don’t believe in adrenal fatigue, and some do. Adrenal Fatigue is just a situation where your adrenals cannot recover. You’re going through these cycles of extremely high cortisol, like a high stress response, and then the cortisol drops off. This is where we talk about is it my metabolism? A lot of women will feel like it’s definitely my metabolism. And you’re right. 

When we’ve been dieting for 10, 20, 30, 40 or more years there’s going to be ramifications. Every time we go back to a very low calorie diet or a lot of exercise or anything that is extreme, it’s going to have an effect on us. When we reduce our muscle mass. When we gain weight back, we don’t gain the muscle back. So we end up usually fatter. Like literally having a higher body fat composition than we started with. Or if we’re constantly losing and gaining the same weight and there’s no change in body composition, our body fat isn’t actually going down and we’re just losing muscle mass. We don’t want that.

If you’re wanting to lose weight and keep it off. Part of that is preserving muscle mass and trying to keep your hormones balanced. We’re not going to overcome metabolic adaptation. We’re not going to trick our bodies. There’s no special workout that tricks your body, that gives it muscle confusion or whatever. Your body’s smart. Your body’s here for the long run. It wants to stay alive. It will adapt to whatever you do. That’s why doing these monotonous cardio sessions or the same workout over and over. If you’re not going to lift any heavier weights, your body is not going to give you a new result. It isn’t about trying to be sneaky or tricking your body but it is about being smarter.

They say work smarter, not harder. It’s just smarter to go at weight loss in a way that you can live your life. Even if it’s not sexy. Even if it’s just not fast. I have a saying, slow weight loss is still weight loss, and it is. Baby steps are still steps. I think that’s part of the unpacking of your weight loss is that mindset shift. Which of course, when we have a lot of things going on with our metabolism, we’re probably also going to have a lot of things going on with our mindset. Some of which are caused by hormones.

4) Emotional eating

If you do have a lot of hormonal imbalances, you might find that you have a real increase in cravings. It does go hand in hand that you feel like you’re constantly hungry, you’re constantly tired, you have no energy, you crave salt, you crave sugar, you crave fatty foods. You could crave all these different things that you didn’t before. You could also just be stressed out all the time and emotional eating. Stress eating will have over consuming calories. 

Sometimes emotional eating could be separate from your metabolism, it could just be that is the way you handle feelings. Whether it is just feeling;

  • Bored,
  • Lonely, 
  • Tired,
  • Like I deserve a treat,
  • Ignored,
  • Resentful. 

People use food and alcohol to buffer.

I don’t want to;

  • Sit down and answer emails. 
  • Open my mail. 
  • Have a difficult conversation.
  • Do any work. 
  • Mow the lawn. 

I’m just gonna flip around on my phone, I’m gonna watch tiktok and eat. 

We do live in a world of processed foods. What I call hyper palatable foods. Foods that are very easy to eat and very easy to over consume. It is very much a situation that we can find ourselves just over desiring food. We over desire food because obviously it tastes good. We could over desire food because our hormones are out of whack. We could over desire food because we don’t necessarily have the awareness or understanding that it is our thoughts and feelings driving us to eat and what to do with it instead. 

The more we have these urges, cravings and temptations and that we give into them, the more we feed the desire. The over desire for food, the more over desire we experience. The more urges I have, and I indulge, the more those urges keep coming back, because it is the hit of dopamine I get when;

  • I eat the Oreos,
  • I eat the chips.
  • I eat the crackers. 
  • I open the wine. 

It feels good, my brain likes it. That’s natural. That’s how our brains are built to seek the reward.

I think I’ve used this analogy before, but it is sort of this idea of feeding a stray cat. I like cats, but if I had a stray cat and I kept putting food out, it’s going to keep coming back for more food. If I stopped putting food out, the cat’s not going to keep coming back. The cat’s going to move on to another house. That’s kind of what happens when we have a lot of these urges and cravings for food and we keep indulging them. 

Every time;

  • I think I should get up and get the Oreos
  • I see a commercial for food
  • Everybody else is eating 
  • I’m really bored
  • I’m really tired. 

I think I’ll get some food. I want this, I want that, I can’t stop thinking about it. That sounds really good. 

The more I indulge that, the more I feed the craving, the more it’s going to come back and it’s going to come back harder because I’m not going to get the same amount of dopamine hit that I did before. One cookie was good. Now I need three. Now I need six. Now I need the whole sleeve. Now I need the whole box. Now there is no amount of cookies, that scratches that itch. And that is not necessary. 

When I say mindset, that’s emotional eating. That is a framework that’s been developing in our brains on how I deal with my life, the nighttime, stress, silence, or just my life. That’s just becomes my norm. I don’t want to say somebody has a bad mindset. 

Here’s the good news. I truly believe we have the ability to change. We have the ability to have that new mindset. Our brains have this thing called plasticity, right? You’re not born with one brain or you go to the store and you buy just a brand. You bought brain number 622 and unfortunately, that’s a flawed model. You needed brain number 720. If you wanted to have no urges, and no craving, no desires for foods that didn’t serve your purpose. It’s normal to desire things that taste good, it’s normal to desire things that feel good. That’s part of being human. 

You’re going to have desires, it’s just what are we going to do with them. The more we feed that desire, the more it comes back. It’s like fanning the flames of desire. This is the intersection of metabolism and mindset. This is the work that diets don’t have you doing. These are all the missing pieces. It’s easy just to say, don’t eat any carbs, or don’t eat any XYZ PDF. It doesn’t matter, this list versus that list. It isn’t about if you want to lose weight and keep it off forever. It’s not because there are certain foods that you can and cannot eat. 

It really is about making sure you are priming your metabolism. You are honoring your metabolism. You’re taking care of your metabolism. You’re listening to your body. You are eating when you’re hungry, and you are stopping when you’ve had enough. That is very helpful to your metabolism. If we really have to under eat and really muscle our way through and will power our way through and hold on for dear life to get through a diet, that’s not going to work. It’s going to backfire on us, and it probably already has. If you’re like me, you have gained and lost the same 20 or 30 pounds over and over and over. 

5) All or nothing thinking.

After emotional eating and stress eating, you’ll see other things pop up to the all or nothing thinking, perfectionism. A lot of diet brain and food drama. Trying to overcome “this is how I used to do it,” or “I can’t eat those foods” or “carbs don’t agree with me.” To some extent maybe that is true. 

One of the things that I see metabolically, too, is gut issues. Some of this is brought on with thyroid issues. Some of this is just brought on by not listening to our bodies or just gut bacteria that isn’t working for you. 

We could have a lot of these issues that are affecting our metabolism. I’m not saying that everybody should eat pasta or bread or Twinkies and Oreos. You have to figure out what it is that works for you and what does not. I have plenty of clients who do have food sensitivities, who do have gut issues, who do have celiac or any other kind of autoimmune and foods that they do not eat. Part of solving why don’t women lose weight and lose it forever is that we haven’t figured out what is going on, metabolically. What is going on with your gut, or what is going on with some of the foods that you’re eating, or some of these things just not working for you. That is totally normal.

It might be temporary or it might be sort of a long term thing some people actually do once they really hone in on their own hunger. They do figure out what foods make them feel good and what foods may not feel good. 

The all or nothing thinking really comes down to oh my gosh, I messed up, I didn’t follow my plan perfectly. I you know, wasn’t able to get that salad with chicken. So instead, I said screw it and I had pizza. That’s I have to do everything just right or it’s not going to work. Obviously, that’s not going to work long term. We’re always going to be in situations where we might have to have a plan B. We might have to punt. We might have to be flexible. That’s really where flexible eat comes in. 

We’ve talked about being flexible, it isn’t eat whatever you see. It’s really about;

  • How can I make a variety of different things actually work for me? 
  • How can I plan ahead as much as possible? 
  • Am I having a protein and vegetable kind of meal? 
  • Am I looking for a salad? 
  • Is it that I am planning out pizza and wine with my friends?

That’s really the flexibility when we talk about all or nothing thinking perfectionism. 

6) Habit Eating

We’re also going to run into just sort of the habit eating. Unawareness around mindless eating. When I think about helping someone lose weight and keep it off, it isn’t just about,

  • Hey, here’s a perfect plan, 
  • Here’s the right calories, 
  • The macros,
  • Eat like this,
  • Plan like this,
  • Make sure there’s always protein. 

At the end of the day, we do have to understand and get awareness around what is going on.

Am I being triggered by something? Have I just been completely unaware that every time I walk through the door, at the end of the day, I’m going right to the refrigerator? Am I mindlessly eating throughout the day? That’s something to really think about, because some of the habit eating the unaware, the mindless eating our licks, bite, taste, calories that are unaccounted for. 

We can often think, Oh, well, I’m doing all the right things, I’m following my plan, I’m doing it. I don’t understand why I’m not losing weight. Except we’re not taking full responsibility and accountability over the little things. The bites. The handful of this. The I went back for seconds or I ate while I made dinner. Those are the kinds of things that you do want to get a handle on. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a snack. It doesn’t mean that crackers are bad for you. It just means that if we’re unaware of what we’re doing or we’re not really recording or taking an assessment of all the different ways that we’re using food or not using food, we are going to run into a problem with our weight loss. 

I’ve used macros, I’ve used calorie counters. I’ve used food journals. For my clients, what does work really well is just a simple notebook. I don’t really see the need for weighing and measuring. Taking a food scale with you everywhere, if you’re really going to track macros.

If you’re wondering why don’t women lose weight and lose it forever, it is the combination of how we went about weight loss. Our expectation of how it was going to be that we would be able to lose weight and just keep it off. 

When we really look at all of the different ways we you know, attempted to lose weight;

  • What parts of it were not sustainable for you? 
  • What parts of it were about your mindset? 
  • Where did you see some of your thoughts and beliefs that might have been holding you back? 
  • Are you somebody who is eating emotionally, eating for stress? 
  • Are you using food to avoid something else? 
  • Eating instead of tackling the to do list or doing the laundry or making the phone call? 
  • Are you eating?
  • Do you have over desiring of food? 
  • Do you have these cravings, urges and temptations around food? 
  • And is it metabolic? 
  • Is it habitual? 

That’s the work we do inside of Self Made. 

The good news is that you can start working on it right now, inside the 14 day Real Weight Loss Challenge. 

It is called the Real Weight Loss Challenge because we are doing real eating for sustainable weight loss. Yeah, it has the word challenge. But this isn’t a race. I’m not gamifying it with Hey, I’m gonna give $1,000 to the person who loses weight the fastest. You’re not sending me your weights. We’re not publicizing the weights. 

If you actually lose weight, I think it would be great and we should celebrate it. I’m not against using the scale. But we’re not. This isn’t a scale challenge. This is all about how do I make eating easy for my weight loss and then we’re going to coach on all things metabolism, hormones, and mindset. 

I hope you will join me in the 14 day weight loss challenge if you do not. I hope you find something useful inside this podcast that you can take action on. 


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 u****k 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.

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