Here’s the deal, everyone has different feelings around different diets & diet fads and weight loss. As you’ve heard me say in the past, the “typical” diet, where you starve yourself for a week at a time, doesn’t work.
That’s true because food is so interwoven into our lives. Unless we decide to make some changes on a more permanent level, it’s hard for a diet to stick and see results in weight loss. Sometimes it is just finding ways to stay motivated while exercising to help diets not feel like you’re suffering.
The struggle of weight loss
For example, I’ve heard of and likely tried, throughout the decades, dozens of diets. The point of each one was to lose weight. Whether or not I initially lost weight didn’t really matter, because unless I stuck with it indefinitely, the weight loss would sneak back into my life & then some.
I’ve heard it said that diets are closely associated with pain. For example, the way to lose & sustain weight loss is to struggle & suffer indefinitely. To some this may very well may feel like dying.
Although food is primarily fuel for our bodies, if we’re honest, it’s a lot more than that. How many gatherings, parties, celebrations have you attended without food?
How likely would it be to attend a birthday party without a birthday cake, or a wedding without a bride’s & groom’s cake? Consider Halloween without candy, Thanksgiving without turkey, etc.
Because we enjoy food and it pairs well with family, friends and just about every other occasion you can think of, we honestly need a better mousetrap to help people lose weight. We need solutions that can be long term and more approachable than let’s say, starvation.
Ok, if I am rubbing you the wrong way with this topic, forgive me, but also understand that unless you walk a mile in someone’s shoe, you cannot truly relate with their struggles. Not really.
If we cannot relate, how can we help? One way is to not propagate “diets” that have been proven time and again to NOT be effective, like the “low fat” diet. If you follow me, you likely know my stance on the low fat diet…it made absolutely everyone on it FAT. It didn’t make them low fat, it actually made them high fat!
“Sometimes “fat-free” is also, well, taste-free. And to make up for that, food makers tend to pour other ingredients — especially sugar, flour, thickeners, and salt — into the products. That can add calories.
As a teenager with self- image issues when the low-fat craze took hold, I quickly changed my “diet” to eating 2 Einstein’s blueberry bagels every morning (just 1 fat gram each), hold the cream cheese, please. It’s too fattening.
For lunch I had skittles & pretzels that I could purchase from the school vending machines for less than $2. Combined, the Skittles & Pretzels had a total fat count of 3 grams. When sticking with 20 fat grams or less, daily, that was a solid choice.
I’ll go on to admit that as a special treat for my strict adherence to the low-fat diet, I’d often stop and enjoy a chocolate frozen yogurt on the way home. It was horrible, I tell you! 🙂
I joke, but it actually was awful, not right away, but within a month my clothes were becoming tight. Ugh – I thought I was adhering to the “diet,” but it seemed obvious that I must double down my efforts & keep going.
If you guessed that my weight continued to increase, you’d be right. Luckily, I was a teenager AND had a strong exercise foundation. I was able to go back to my previous ways and previous weight.
So there are different stats floating all around us – one is that 95% of people who go on diets and lose weight end up gaining it back & then some within 4-5 years. Very upsetting, to be sure.
Another disappointing note made by UCLA, where they analyzed 31 long term weight loss studies, is that “Studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.”
“You can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back,” said Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”
But here’s a nuget that makes this study of all studies valuable and hopeful…
Here’s an interesting graph put together by the CDC that show the most popular ways people lost weight in 2013-2016.
Quite honestly, all the listed ways people lost weight could be effective for weight LOSS. But what every dieter needs to grapple with is the fact that in order to maintain or sustain a weight loss, you have to have a plan, and I agree with the UCLA study that exercise, along with a healthier eating style, is a solid plan to maintain weight loss.
Over the years I’ve been asked time and time again, what’s more important when losing weight, nutrition or exercise. I’ve always looked that that question skeptically, because you cannot be wholistically healthy without both, so why is that important? I am sure that there are those that disagree with me, and that’s ok, but I stand firm.
Although I’ll quickly admit that if you’re eating like crap, no matter how much you exercise, your body will rebel. Firstly, because crap calories aren’t the right fuel your body needs to exercise at the intensity needed to burn the same crap calories.
How Do you lose weight and keep it off?
So how does one actually lose weight and keep it off? That’s what you really care about, right? Here’s the answer, stop the crazy dieting! Just stop it already!
What you need to do is overhaul your nutrition and tighten up your workout routine. That’s it!
But what does that look like? You’re going to love my answer, especially because you already know it…
- Eat whole foods that grow in and above the ground, in trees, vines, bushes like fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes and whole grains.
- Drink milk and eat dairy products that are produced from the milk of mammals.
- Eat eggs and other animal proteins that fit with our value system.
Basically, stay away from “foods” that have been created or manufactured by man (as often as possible).
Move every single day. You should never “take a day off” from the everyday movement of your life. In fact, it’s extremely helpful to know how much you are moving per day and making sure you maintain or surpass a certain threshold, which can be different for everyone.
The best way to monitor your movement is through wearing a fitness watch that tracks things like heart rate, steps, calories burned, time, etc. I love my simple one by garmin, HERE.
It’s widely accepted that 10,000 steps should be your daily goal. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, the average American walks 3-4K steps per day, equating to about 1.5-2 miles. It’s suggested to determine how many steps you’re currently taking (establish a baseline) then add 1K extra steps a day every 2 weeks.
In addition to daily movement, you must work in 150+ minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity training weekly. On top of that, full-body strength training is recommended 2+ days per week.
There you have it. It’s quite simple, actually. But it’s not always easy. See how many packaged foods you can trade out with whole foods. Maybe start with zoodles (noodles made with zucchini). It’s delicious, easy and an easy to swap for spaghetti noodles.
What’s next? Baseline all your activities and your food intake. Try to make one improvement per week on each. You’ve got this! As you make one improvement you will see results in your weight loss journey