Infographic: What Triggers Successful Weight Losers to Make a Change?

Research says that only one out of every five people who lose a significant amount of weight (at least 10% of their initial body weight) are able to keep it off for more than a year.

That means that four out of five people (80%) that lost weight, gained it back.

Have you ever wondered what lead people to make significant changes in their lifestyle that enabled them to keep the weight off long term?

The reason for significant lifestyle change is often called a “trigger”. A trigger is an event or realization that motivated the individual to make significant lifestyle changes in order to lose weight.

According to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), 83 percent of people who lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off (for at least a year) had some sort of trigger, while 17 percent had no triggering event.

See the infographic below to see a visual representation of the most common triggers of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off long term. Then read on to learn more about each!

This infographic describes what sort of triggering events lead people to make lifestyle changes that enabled them to lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off long-term.

The three most common triggers (in order) were:

1. A medical event.

This is a big one. A medical event could be getting a diagnosis such as diabetes or heart disease, or it could be something more traumatic like having a heart attack or stroke. A medical trigger could even be a warning from a doctor that if the individual doesn’t change their lifestyle and or lose weight, that they could develop one of these diseases. This trigger tends to be one of the most dramatic and powerful for people because it holds so much consequence (they could die if they don’t change their ways!).

2. Hitting an all-time high weight.

Weighing more than they ever have before is also a very common trigger for people. Without any intervention, people naturally tend to gain weight as they age. Seeing that number on the scale is often enough of a shock to make people see a need to change.

3. Seeing a picture or reflection of themselves.

In this trigger people often say that they hadn’t realized how heavy they had gotten until they saw themselves in a picture or mirror.

There were also a number of individuals (26%) that had another trigger that was not mentioned above.

In my personal experience, some of the other common triggers I have heard (in addition to the big 3 listed above) that motivated people to make a change were that:

  • They had a break up and needed to get back out into the dating world.
  • They were unable to keep up with their kids/grandkids.
  • They felt out of breath or had to stop and take a break during what should have been a simple task (for example: climbing stairs, walking up a hill, or carrying groceries).
  • Their weight prevented them from doing things that they wanted to do (for example: taking a cruise, entering a race, etc.)

You may be wondering, do you have to have some sort of trigger in order to successfully lose weight and keep it off?

Of course not! So don’t stress if there wasn’t any one moment that made you realize you needed to make a change. Some people’s realizations are more gradual – and that is fine!

Whether you do or don’t have a trigger to make a change doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you are ready and willing to make a change. However, if you have had any of these triggers, use them as fuel to motivate yourself to adopt a healthier lifestyle!

Your turn!

  • Have you experienced any of these triggers? If so, which one(s)?
  • Is there a trigger that you have experienced that was not listed here? If so, what was it?



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