The statistics are depressing. The vast majority of people who lose weight end up, in relatively short order, gaining back every pound they lost. Perhaps it's happened to you; it happened repeatedly to me. Seemingly, at the very moment of triumph, the seeds of its undoing are sown. After a few cycles of depressing, uncontrollable weight gain and painful dieting, it's tempting to just give up; to assume you were never meant to be thin. Well, right now you are thin, whether for the first time or the twentieth. How can you evade the fate of most dieters and avoid regaining the weight you've lost? By relying on the same feedback you used to lose weight.
Let's try to understand why so many people fail to keep weight off after struggling to lose it. The rubber bag tells us that weight gain stems from a very simple cause: eating more food than the body burns. Feedback explains why: people prone to overweight lack a built-in feedback system to balance the calories they eat against what they burn; their appetite doesn't tell them to stop eating when enough calories have gone in.
A person with a broken feedback system will always tend to gain or lose weight. In chapter we've seen how Oscar and Buster, victims of incorrect feedback, gain weight simply by heeding the deceptive message of appetite. When Oscar or Buster go on a diet, the diet tells them what to eat and when. And, for reasons we now understand, it works! As long as they follow the diet and don't cheat, they lose weight as rapidly as promised and arrive at the end of the diet thin, happy, and feeling in command of their weight.
Then they put the diet away and rely, once again, on their built-in feedback system to tell them how much to eat. But it's still broken! Sure enough, their weight starts to creep upward and before long all the progress of the diet is erased. People with a tendency to gain weight need continual guidance about how much to eat. Withdrawing this guidance at the end of a diet, or couching the need for ongoing feedback in a manner that implies, ``You're a fatty, and to be slim you'll have to spend the rest of your life on a diet'' is as deplorable as lending a pair of glasses to a nearsighted person for six weeks, then removing them and saying, ``OK. You're on your own.''
If your eyes don't focus, you need optical correction to live a normal life, and you need it all life long. The fix that lets you see as well as a person born with perfect vision needn't be obtrusive nor prevent you from doing anything you wish, but you have to continue using it. If you happen, instead, to lack a built-in eat watch, you shouldn't feel any more guilty about technologically overcoming that limitation than your friends do about wearing glasses. Gotta problem? Quit whining, fix it, and get on with yer' life!
By John Walker