Think you know it all about dieting and weight loss? Think again
“Self-mastery is the most important variable in an effective diet. Many people achieve this through food journaling, although journaling is only one aspect of self-mastery. The most important aspect of self-mastery is setting a daily menu and then following through with it. Self-mastery can also be described as dieting 'compliance.' Everything else is secondary to this.”
— Dr. Ben G. Adams, clinical psychologist and creator of the Creative Process Diet
Begin with a Plan
“Self-mastery is the most important variable in an effective diet. Adams, clinical psychologist and creator of the Creative Process Diet
Why the Scale Doesn't Always Matter and Other Things to Know About Weight Loss
Dieting for most people means no sweet treats, more working out, and keeping track of your progress. But sometimes, after doing everything you’re supposed to, you step on the scale and see the needle hasn't really moved. Suddenly, you feel deflated and unmotivated, and you start going through the vicious cycle of dieting all over again.
Before you start punishing yourself for “failing,” you need to know: the scale (and many other health tropes) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“It's true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Including this meal in your routine is a common denominator for successful weight loss and maintenance. The explanations for this observation include the possibility that breakfast does the following:
— Suppresses mid-morning hunger
— Produces better blood glucose and elevates basal metabolic rate
— Yields fewer episodes of imbalanced, impulsive, or excessive eating later in the day
— Increases fiber intake (e.g., from cereals, fruits, and whole grains)
— Reduces dietary fat intake
— Encourages improved health consciousness”
— Rene Ficek, registered dietitian and the Lead Nutrition Expert at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating
“Equally important is following a low-fat diet, which appears to be beneficial for several reasons. First, fat contains nine calories per gram compared to four calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein. Second, high-fat foods are often dense, making large portions easy to consume. They’re generally more tempting, so it is easy to eat more than intended.”
— Rene Ficek
Get Stress Under Control
“Studies repeatedly show that when people are bored or stressed, they're likely to eat high-fat, sugary, or salty foods. While these foods often feel comforting, it's not just about the emotional eating — a chemical reaction to stress (increased levels of cortisol and insulin) can actually cause hunger pains.”
— Alissa Rumsey, registered dietitian, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Limit Television Viewing
“Most dieters who have lost weight and maintained that weight loss have reduced their screen time. The records of the successful National Weight Control Registry dieters confirm this. A high percentage of the registrants (about 62 percent) reported watching 10 or fewer hours of television per week, and more than one third (about 36 percent) watched less than five hours of television per week. The remainder of this group viewed more than 21 hours of television per week. The national average time for watching television is 28 hours per week, or four hours per day, for the average American adult. This is a tremendous amount of time people spend engaged in sedentary activity. Similarly, childhood obesity specialists report a connection between pediatric weight control problems, increased body mass indexes, and excessive television viewing. Additionally, many TV viewers report uncontrollable desires for advertised snacks, which are usually high in both fat and calories.”
— Rene Ficek
“To lose weight, one must create an energy deficit. Contemporary recommendations encourage a gradual weight loss of about one to two pounds per week. People can generally reach this goal with a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day. Sustaining this calorie deficit should produce a 5 percent weight loss within a couple months for most people. A general calorie goal for weight loss should be around 1,200 calories/day. 1,200 calories a day produces a calorie deficit for most people, but provides enough to keep you full and your metabolism fueled.”
— Rene Ficek
Sleep is Essential
“It's not just eating and exercising — sleep matters too! Too little sleep has been linked with increased levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates our appetite, as well as decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that helps control our appetite. Not getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night has been linked to higher rates of overweight and obesity.”
— Alissa Rumsey
You Can Lose a Size Without Losing Weight
“You can gain muscle and lose a size without losing weight. Put as simply as possible, when you work out, you’re trading body fat for lean muscle. What most people don’t realize is that a pound of fat takes up much more space than a pound of muscle. That means, if you’re utilizing a weight-lifting routine (and you should be!), you may see increases in muscle tone and a loss in size without seeing the number the scale change dramatically.”
— Nick Brennan, Founder & CEO, Unbeaten Fitness, LLC
Why your bathroom scales are lying to you and how to find your true weight
I weighed myself every hour for the entire bank holiday weekend. Here’s what I found out.
Weighing your food for an entire weekend turns out to be a very dull and depressing exercise, which you should totally try yourself next weekend. Photograph: Peter Cade/Getty Images
Weighing your food for an entire weekend turns out to be a very dull and depressing exercise, which you should totally try yourself next weekend. Photograph: Peter Cade/Getty Images
Last modified on Wed 20 Sep 2017 19.44 BST
For a long time now I’ve been weighing myself daily, but I realised early on that the numbers you see when you step on the scales are almost always nonsense. Weight measurements are like opinion polls – individual results don’t tell you anything because there’s just too much random noise, error and variation. It’s only when you have a few dozen that you can start to reliably pick out a trend.
But that noise made me curious. It’s easy to chalk up weight gains and losses to hidden forces or semi-scientific concepts like ‘starvation mode’, but when you do that you lose a sense of control. Understanding is power, and I wanted to understand what my body did over the course of a single day that caused my weight to vary so much from one morning to the next.
So over the bank holiday weekend, I conducted a little unscientific experiment on myself. I weighed myself every waking hour, from 6pm on Friday to 9am on Tuesday, and assumed a constant rate of change overnight to interpolate the missing hours of sleep. I recorded to the gram the amount that I ate and drank, and even the quantity of urine that I passed (I estimated the, er, other stuff – I do have some dignity), and I recorded all the exercise I did, weighing myself before and after walks and runs. The result was a glorious spreadsheet showing exactly what happened to my body hour-by-hour over nearly ninety hours. So what did I find?
Conclusion number one is that weighing yourself every hour is a really bloody depressing exercise. It turns out that an hour is a very short period of time, and having an alarm go off every hour from 9am to 1am very quickly becomes Not At All Fun. It also meant I couldn’t go anywhere or see anyone, but then bank holiday weekends are nearly always hateful experiences so I wasn’t missing much.
Worse, the act of weighing myself changed my behaviour no matter how hard I tried to resist it. If you know you’re about to weigh yourself in ten minutes, and that drinking a glass of water is going to add up to a pound to that weight, you’ve got a big incentive to feel a bit less thirsty. And if you’re going to the bathroom every hour on the hour, you may as well.. you get the picture. By Saturday night I was in danger of sinking into a sort of miserable hourly drink-pee-weigh cycle.
So this is far from perfect as far as science goes, but it still produced some interesting results.
My weight over the course of the weekend, from Friday 6pm to Tuesday 9am. Peaks occur after meals (two a day), the deep troughs between meals are after runs. The four nights of sleep are interpolated from the weights recorded on going to bed and waking up, so appear as straight lines. Photograph: Martin Robbins
The first surprise was just the sheer amount of mass involved. In three-and-a-bit days I consumed a massive 14.86kgs of stuff – about 33lbs. That was made up of 3.58kgs of food and 11.28kgs of drink (including 700 grams of a nice red). That’s way, way, way higher than I expected
In spite of taking in all that stuff, I finished the experiment 1.86 kilos lighter than when I started. That means my body got rid of a staggering 16.72kgs of mass over the long weekend. 7.4kgs of that was accounted for by urine, and an estimated 1.8kgs by, well, crap, but that still leaves a whopping 7.52 kilos of mass that just vanished into thin air. Where did it go?
Some of it disappeared when I went running. I went out for two 5k runs on the Sunday and Monday, and between them I lost well over a kilogram in sweat. Some of the 11-plus kilos of fluids I took in over the weekend were spent replacing all that water I leaked out of my skin. Even accounting for that though, every hour it seemed my weight was slightly less than it should have been. On average, I lost 69 grams every single hour that couldn’t be explained by anything I’d measured. Over the whole weekend, that added up to nearly six kilos of unexplained weight loss, 1.65kgs every 24 hours.
In fact, I really was evaporating into thin air. Humans breathe in oxygen, and breathe out carbon dioxide – oxygen plus a carbon atom. All those carbon atoms have to come from somewhere, and they add up pretty quickly – over the course of a day, with a good work out thrown in, someone my size breathes out maybe half a kilo of carbon. Our breathe also carries water vapour, which accounts for about the same amount again and we’re also leaking water from our skin – another half kilo or so evaporating every day.
Add them together, and it explains the mystery weight loss pretty much perfectly. It also reveals another surprising truth that when it comes to ditching mass from your body the anus really does bring up the rear end. My penis, lungs and skin all managed to outperform my posterior when it came to taking out the trash. In fact only last year a study found that much of the fat you shift when you lose weight departs via your lungs.
None of this is massively surprising of course, but what I think it shows is just how unreliable any single measurement of weight is. On any given day my weight varied by about four pounds, with a dozen pounds passing in and out of the giant meat tube that is me at only vaguely predictable times. When you consider that a sensible weight loss target is maybe 0.25lbs per day, you can see how on most days that’s just going to be swallowed up in the noise. While I was generally lighter in the mornings and heavier after meals as you’d expect, my exact weight at any moment was really just a crap shoot. Only by looking at a long-term view, over many days, would it be possible to see the genuine trend.
So how do you figure out how much you weigh? Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of weighing yourself weekly – it’s just not enough data for you to know what’s really happening. Weigh yourself every morning, but ignore the number that comes up on the scales. Instead take the average of the last seven days (preferably ten or fourteen), and after several weeks look at how that average is changing over time. That’s where the real truth lies.
16th June 1924: A horse racing official testing the scales in the jockey-weighing room in preparation for Royal Ascot. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
New: Endoscopic Bariatric Therapy
Bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery, helps lots of people lose weight. It even treats type 2 diabetes. But what if you’re not heavy enough to qualify or don’t want surgery? New endoscopic bariatric and metabolic therapies sharply reduce your stomach volume and even tweak other parts of your digestive tract -- with a compact, flexible scope looped through your mouth. It’s a same-day procedure that might help keep weight off better, too.
Weight loss can lead to a really positive relationship with your body.
“Let’s start with the good,” says Aaptiv Trainer Kelly Chase.
“Weight loss can improve your body image. You will gain more confidence in your new size, appreciate the dedication you put in to achieving your weight loss goal, and be inspired to want to help others feel happy and confident, too. I do believe that everyone, no matter their size, can have a positive relationship with their body and beautifully accept their curves. On my own weight loss journey, I personally have accepted my body much more now that I have lost unwanted weight. But when I was heavier, I would try to say positive affirmations daily to shift my mindset and accept my body for what it was, which helped keep as much of a positive mindset as possible.”
Weight loss can encourage a desire to take care of your body, look in the mirror and feel good about yourself, and more regularly identify with parts of your body you really like.
Additionally, Mendez says, it can reinforce healthy behaviors and validate feelings of accomplishment regarding your weight loss goals.
3. Don’t be afraid of carbs
Sure, a low-carb plan can help you lose weight, but plenty of research also supports carbohydrates — even whole-grain wheat — for slimming down. One recent study comparing grain avoiders to grain eaters found that the people who ate grains were less likely to be overweight or obese, and had a lower risk of metabolic complications, like type 2 diabetes. By contrast, avoiding grains was linked with a higher BMI and waist circumference, despite the fact that it was also linked with consuming fewer calories.
Another recent study showed that people who eat whole grains burned close to 100 more calories per day compared to people consuming similar calories but eating refined grains instead.
What I’ve learned is that you don’t need to take an all-or-nothing approach to carbs. Most often, I consider grains a side dish rather than an entrée, but I still eat them every day. What is important is that you consistently choose whole grains over their refined counterparts. That means mostly eating brown rice instead of white, whole-grain bread over the pillowy, white sandwich bread you may have grown up loving, and choosing whole-grain cereals, whether cold or hot, over hyper-processed refined versions.
Seven top tips on how to avoid the pounds and run your best race:
1. Pay attention: Are you increasing your mileage but devouring a post-run burger because you 'deserve' it? Such behaviour offsets the calories you burned logging miles.
2. Fuel up. within reason: Eat before a long run but you should have enough stored fuel for an easy three-miler, so skip the snack and just run.
3. Drink fluids: Optimal hydration can improve performance and reduce hunger. Hydrate before and after a workout and sip on calorie-free fluids throughout the day.
4. Fibre up after a run: High-fibre foods are often low in calories but filling, so they're great for weight control. But they keep your digestive system moving, so avoid eating too much fibre right before you run.
5. Choose carbs wisely: Don't fill up on carbs from processed grains and sweets. Instead, carb-load with filling, nutrient-dense whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa.
6. Cut back: A study in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society found that when people decrease activity after hard training, they often don't reduce their food intake, setting them up for weight gain.
7. Eat better: It&rsquos okay to be mildly hungry before easy runs. Exercise temporarily reduces appetite, so your stomach will stop growling once you start running.
ABC Health & Wellbeing
We all know exercise helps you lose weight. Right? So why do some of us fail to shed centimetres even though we do plenty of exercise?
[Image source: iStockPhoto | imtmphoto ]
Jeff and Liz are like many couples in their early 40s they love good food, drink a little too much wine and don't do enough exercise.
Unfortunately their lifestyle started taking its toll on their waistlines. So last year they decided to do something about it together and embarked on a new regime of healthy eating, drinking less, and exercising regularly.
Three months later Jeff had lost four kilos, whereas Liz's weight was the same. It's an all too familiar story yet it's one we don't really know the answer to.
Why is it that some people can slog their hearts out at the gym several days a week to discover their scales are telling them the same story?
Weight loss through exercise works 'in theory'
Exercise can be an effective way to lose weight, says Dr Nathan Johnson, an exercise physiologist based at the University of Sydney.
This has been illustrated by plenty of scientific studies that placed people on exercise programs and calculated, based on the energy cost of the exercise, how much weight they should lose. More often than not, study participants lost weight as predicted.
"On the whole people do lose weight when they stick to an exercise plan and nothing else changes," says Johnson.
However, in the real world what tends to happen is people who exercise either don't lose weight, or lose a small amount that they then put back on over time.
A study by an US group of researchers is a good illustration of what typically happens with exercise, says Johnson.
Previously sedentary overweight and obese postmenopausal women were put into either a non-exercise control group or one of three exercise groups with an exercise energy expenditure of 4, 8, or 12 kcal/kg/week (KKW).
At the end of the six-month study the researchers observed no difference in actual and predicted weight loss between the 4 and 8 KKW exercise groups. The 12 KKW group, who exercised for 194 minutes a week, produced only about half of the predicted weight loss.
"People tend to go well for a few weeks and lose the amount of weight you'd expect but then things tend to go the wrong way after that…they begin to not lose as much weight as you'd expect in the end," says Johnson.
"The authors speculate that people are behaviourally compensating by either changing their diet or their physical activity."
Cancelling out your hard work
Johnson says many of us are either consciously or subconsciously 'self-sabotaging' in some way.
For instance, you may be less physically active overall throughout your day because you are exercising. This means you're unwittingly cancelling out the benefits of the exercise you've been doing.
"If I start a regular exercise program I may find myself sitting down more or taking the less active option [in other activities]," says Johnson.
"The other thing is people may change their dietary behaviour whether that means eating more, or eating more energy dense foods."
Most of us can identify with this feeling of having 'earned' a treat after a big work out session.
"The actual medicine itself, if we think of exercise as a medicine actually works, 𠉫ut it's the implementation of it that tends to fall short," he says.
Diet damage is hard to undo
The other issue is that people can do a lot of harm through their diet that is almost impossible to make up through exercise, says Johnson.
"Making a bad eating decision can require a lot of exercise to expend the equivalent amount of energy," he says.
For example, you need to do about 45 to 60 minutes of exercise to offset the kilojoules contained in a burger from a popular fast food joint.
"When you combine the typical choices people make throughout the day, like a snack in the morning, a burger for lunch, we often find that we just can't undo the bad work that's been done."
And the truth is, most of us are largely unaware of how much energy is in the food that we're putting into our bodies, particularly when it comes to sugary or fatty foods.
Putting calories into context
Researchers from Texas found that when they gave people menus that illustrated how much exercise was needed to burn off the calories for each item of food, they opted for healthier choices.
The study of 300 men and women aged 30 and under were divided into three groups. One group received a regular menu, the second group received the same menu with the calorie content for each item, and the third group had a menu that listed calories as well as how many minutes of brisk walking it would take to burn those calories.
The third group ordered and consumed fewer calories compared to the other groups.
The findings showed that putting calories into context might go some way to changing the eating habits of adults, the study authors said.
Right type of exercise
Sometimes there's also a big difference between what people think is exercise, and what exercise actually is, says Johnson.
"People misunderstand what we talk about as exercise and think that just getting up from their chair or having a stroll is adequate."
"There's a perception that they've done some exercise so that offsets all ills."
He says many of us will take the easy route when it comes to exercise.
"Adults inherently tend to select the lazier option of things and this tends to come as self-supporting advice."
"If you stick to that then you're suddenly not doing the recommended regular amount of exercise to keep that energy input energy output balance in check."
Fat burning exercise
When we move our bodies we need energy to be used up at a higher rate to burn fat. The key is to expend as much energy as you can, says Johnson.
He recommends aerobic type activity involving the use of large muscles if you want to lose weight. This is because the more muscles you use, the more energy you need to use to support the activity.
This can include activities like brisk walking, running, cycling, kayaking, swimming as well as many team sports.
It's best to try and accumulate activity for prolonged periods of at least 30 minutes but the more the better, advises Johnson.
Some people respond better
It's also true that some people respond to exercise better than others, but it depends on what outcome you are measuring, says Johnson. For instance, if we're talking about fitness, measured as aerobic capacity, part of that is genetically determined.
"We don't quite have a handle on which genes cause it, but there is definitely evidence that some people get more benefit in terms of fitness from exercise programmes than others".
However, when it comes to weight loss from exercise, having a genetically higher chance of being overweight or obese doesn't mean that you won't respond to exercise as well as anyone else does.
"While there is some evidence of a genetic component to being overweight or obese, the important thing is that there's absolutely no evidence that it changes how people respond to an exercise program."
Don't worry about the scales
According to Johnson, it's actually not weight per se that's the problem, it's fat and in particular, where it is stored.
Most rugby league or union players are overweight in terms of body mass index because they have a lot of muscle. Pear-shaped women typically store excess fat around their hips and bottoms. This is known not to be detrimental to their health, explains Johnson.
Instead it's the fat stored around the abdomen and organs that we should be worried about.
For example, fat stored in the liver, even in small amounts, can have significant consequences on health and the risk of disease, says Johnson.
But the great news is that exercise can reduce these fats, whether it's visceral fat that wraps around organs or whether it's fat in the organ itself for instance fat in the liver, heart or pancreas.
"It appears these fats can actually be reduced or even got rid of in some of these organs even without losing weight and that's a really important message," he says.
"Don't worry about what's on the scales, worry about doing exercise because we know, aside from all of its benefits, it helps reduce fat from these areas".
Benefits beyond weight loss
It's also important to remember there are a host of benefits to exercise beyond weight loss, says Johnson.
Most people looking to lose weight are at high risk of diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Research shows that exercise can reduce these risks.
"People at risk of diabetes can halve their chances of the disease by doing moderate amounts of exercise," says Johnson.
Exercise has also been shown to help improve heart function and blood pressure.
The right type of exercise can also reduce depression and anxiety, improve bone health, and reduce risk of falls in old people, he adds.
"The message should move beyond weight loss and be more about actually doing sustainable exercise and doing it regularly for all these types of benefits."
"Otherwise people just end up in perpetual failure… of trying new diets and new fad exercise regimes."
"What we're really about is trying to encourage people to adopt healthy eating and physical activity as part of every day life."
Can’t lose weight no matter what you do? Don’t make these 19 mistakes
There’s your lean friend who always seems to be attacking dessert. There’s the pencil-thin colleague who lunches on burgers the size of her head. And then there’s you.
Day after day, you toss a salad for lunch, nibble on ‘baked chips’ for snacks, refuse desserts and climb six flights of stairs four times without stopping daily — yet you can’t get that weighing scale to budge downwards. How is it that you’re still heavy when you’d swear on your favourite double cheese pizza, “But I don’t eat that much!”
You may think you’re eating less, depriving yourself of your favourite foods, and working out. So why can’t you lose a single kilo? What’s going on with you?
Here are 19 possible explanations for why you’re not losing weight:
Keeping track of your diet helps with weight loss. (Shutterstock)
1. You’re not keeping track of what you’re eating: “Awareness is incredibly important if you are trying to lose weight. Many people actually don’t have a clue how much they’re really eating,” Dr Sanjay Aggarwal, a general physician at Holistic Healthcare Centre in Delhi, says.
Studies show that keeping track of your diet helps with weight loss. People who use food diaries, or take pictures of their meals, consistently lose more weight than people who don’t, Dr Anupam Dey, a Kolkata-based dietician adds.
2. You’re not eating enough protein: Protein is the single most important nutrient for losing weight.
“Eating protein can boost metabolism and make you automatically eat several hundred fewer calories per day. It can also drastically reduce cravings and desire for snacking due to protein’s effects on appetite-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin and others. It also helps to prevent weight regain,” Dr Dey says.
If you eat breakfast, then this is the most important meal to load up on the protein. Studies confirm that those who eat a high-protein breakfast are less hungry and have fewer cravings throughout the day.
If you are not losing weight, then you should try weighing your foods and tracking your calories for a while. (Shutterstock)
3. You’re eating too many calories: “A large percentage of people who have trouble losing weight are simply eating too many calories,” Dr Dey says.
You may think that this does not apply to you, but keep in mind that studies consistently show that people tend to underestimate their calorie intake by a significant amount.
“If you are not losing weight, then you should try weighing your foods and tracking your calories for a while. It is generally not necessary to count calories and weigh everything for the rest of your life. Just do it every few months for a few days at a time to get a feel for how much you should be eating,” Dr Dey suggests.
4. You’re not eating whole foods: Food quality is just as important as quantity. Eating healthy foods can improve your health and help regulate your appetite. These foods tend to be much more filling than their processed counterparts.
“Keep in mind that many processed foods labeled as health foods aren’t really healthy. Stick to whole, single-ingredient foods as much as possible,” Dr Aggarwal says.
Enjoy a variety of workout techniques. (Shutterstock)
5. You’re exercising, but not in a way that’s benefiting your body: You are either exercising too much or you need to mix it up a bit and give the body a bit of a shock.
“Enjoy a variety of workout techniques: Weight training, pilates and yoga. Weight training is also very helpful to raise your metabolism,” Dr Aggarwal says.
6. You’re binge-eating (even on healthy food): We’d love to be able to say you can eat as much healthy food as you like, but unfortunately this is just not the case. Binge-eating is a common side effect of dieting. It involves rapidly eating large amounts of food, often much more than your body needs.
Dr Dey says, “This is a pretty big problem for many dieters. Some of them binge on junk food, while others binge on relatively healthy foods, including nuts, dark chocolate, etc.”
“Even if something is healthy, the calories still count. Depending on the volume, just a single binge can often ruin an entire week’s worth of dieting,” he warns.
7. You’re not chewing your food: Chewing your food until it’s liquid will really help with weight loss and better digestive performance.
Cold drinks are loaded with sugar. (Shutterstock)
8. You’re still drinking sugar: Studies show sugary beverages are the most fattening items in the food supply. Our brains don’t compensate for the calories in them by making us eat less of other foods.
“This isn’t only true of sugary drinks like your favourite cola it also applies to so-called healthier beverages, which are also loaded with sugar,” Dr Dey says.
Even fruit juices are problematic, and should not be consumed in large amounts, he adds: A single glass can contain a similar amount of sugar as several pieces of whole fruit!
9. You’re not sleeping well: Sleep = repair. When your body gets enough rest, it’s able to perform. Good sleep is one of the most important things to consider for your physical and mental health, as well as your weight.
Studies show that poor sleep is one of the single biggest risk factors for obesity. Adults and children with poor sleep have a 55% and 89% greater risk of becoming obese, respectively.
Low-carb diets can also lead to improvements in many metabolic markers. (Shutterstock)
10. You’re not cutting back on carbohydrates: If you have a lot of weight to lose, and/or if you have metabolic problems like type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, then you may want to consider a low-carb diet.
In short-term studies, this type of diet has been shown to cause up to 2-3 times as much weight loss as the standard ‘low-fat’ diet that is often recommended.
“Low-carb diets can also lead to improvements in many metabolic markers, such as triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and blood sugar, to name a few,” Dr Aggarwal says.
11. You’re eating too often: It is a myth that everyone should be eating many, small meals each day in order to boost metabolism and lose weight. Studies actually confirm that meal frequency has little or no effect on fat burning or weight loss.
“It is also ridiculously inconvenient to be preparing and eating food all day. It makes healthy nutrition much more complicated,” Dr Dey says.
Drinking water has also been shown to boost the amount of calories burned. (Shutterstock)
12. You’re not drinking water or drinking too much alcohol: Drinking water can have benefits for weight loss. In one 12-week weight loss study, people who drank half a litre of water 30 minutes before meals lost 44% more weight. Drinking water has also been shown to boost the amount of calories burned by 24-30% over a period of 1.5 hours.
If you like alcohol but want to lose weight, then it may be best to stick to spirits (like vodka) mixed with a non-caloric beverage.
“Beer, wine and sugary alcoholic beverages are very high in calories. Also keep in mind that the alcohol itself has about seven calories per gram, which is high. That being said, the studies on alcohol and weight show mixed results. Moderate drinking seems to be fine, while heavy drinking is linked to weight gain,” Dr Dey says.
13. You’re not eating mindfully: A technique called mindful eating may be one of the most powerful weight loss tools. Numerous studies have confirm that mindful eating can cause significant weight loss and reduce the frequency of binge eating
“It involves slowing down, eating without distraction, savouring and enjoying each bite, while listening for the natural signals that tell your brain when it has had enough,” Dr Dey says.
He adds, “Eat with zero distractions, just you and your, eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.”
Certain medical conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, can make weight loss harder, or even cause weight gain. (Shutterstock)
14. You have a medical condition that is making things harder: “There are some medical conditions that can drive weight gain and make it much harder to lose weight. These include hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and sleep apnea. Certain medications can also make weight loss harder, or even cause weight gain,” Dr Aggarwal says.
Best to see a nutritionist or doctor who can support you and suggest certain tests that will confirm this so you can take appropriate action.
15. Your expectations are unrealistic: Weight loss is generally a much slower process than most people want.
“Although it is often possible to lose weight fast in the beginning, very few people can continue to lose weight at a rate of more than 1-2 kilos per week,” says Dr Dey, adding, “Another major problem is that many people have unrealistic expectations of what is achievable with a healthy diet and exercise.”
The truth is, not everyone can look like a model or bodybuilder. The photos you see in magazines or on social media are often enhanced using carious apps or sofwares.
Dr A suggest, “If you have already lost some weight and you feel good about yourself, but the scale doesn’t seem to want to budge any further, then perhaps you should start working on accepting your body the way it is.”
If you spend much of your life indoors, get your Vitamin D checked with your doctor. (Shutterstock)
16. You’re not getting enough Vitamin D: A huge number of people have low Vitamin D, which is associated with weight gain and several metabolic processes. If you spend much of your life indoors, get your Vitamin D checked with your doctor.
17. You’re too focused on ‘dieting’: “Dieting is not way of life. I often ask people are you weight conscious or health conscious? They’re very different mentalities that foster very different choices,” Dr Dey says.
‘Diets’ almost never work in the long term, he adds. If anything, studies actually show that people who ‘diet’ gain more weight over time.
“Instead of approaching weight loss from a dieting mindset, make it your primary goal to become a happier, healthier and fitter person. Focus on nourishing your body instead of depriving it, and let weight loss follow as a natural side effect,” Dr Dey says.
Some of you have office jobs and are tied to your desk. (Shutterstock)
18. You’re sitting all day: You’re not moving your body enough throughout the day, and your body does not like this.
“Some of you have office jobs and are tied to your desk, but is it possible to go for a few minute stroll every hour? Or walk 20 minutes to grab lunch?” Dr Aggarwal says.
19. You’re eating out too much and not cooking at home: ”You just don’t know what that restaurant is using to cook your food,” Dr Aggarwal warns.
Assume they’re using the worst vegetable oils, heavy amounts of butter and oil, and poor-quality produce. Unless you’re dining at a place that claims healthy cooking and uses healthy produce, learn to love your kitchen.
7 Things You Can Do When the Scale Won’t Budge
“It’s easier to form a new habit instead of breaking an old one you struggle with.”
1. De-emphasize the scale.
Most physicians would readily agree that the scale alone is a very incomplete metric, says Sullivan. So is your BMI number, or any other metric number on its own. Being healthy involves dozens of measurements, and utilizing more of them will help you realize how far you’ve come and help you set new goals, he says. Perhaps you aren’t moving the scale but you’re lowering your heart rate, reducing belly fat, or improving your cholesterol numbers. Start taking measurements so you can see how your body composition is changing by shedding fat and building lean muscle when your weight stays the same. Being able to fit into a smaller size? Now that’s a milestone worth celebrating!
2. Enlist an honest buddy.
A solid support system is a must when you need that extra push to reach your goals. Whether that’s a friend with similar goals or a significant other who just knows how you’re wired, find someone you can be completely honest with about how you’re doing, says Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center and author of Eat Q: Unlock the Weight-Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence. Having someone to check in with daily or at least a few times a week will keep you accountable and may help you stay on track when faced with temptation. Knowing you’ll have to tell your weight loss buddy you went back for second helpings may help you put the kibosh on that habit. And when it comes time to hit the gym, sweating as a duo is just way more fun.
3. Don’t break old habits — start new ones.
Instead of trying to break old eating habits, form new healthy habits to crowd out the old ones, says Dr. Albers. “It’s easier to form a new habit instead of breaking an old one you struggle with.” So if your old tendency is to have ice cream every night, try swapping the ice cream for non-fat yogurt with granola and factor that into your daily calorie intake, Dr. Albers suggests. Taking control with a positive mindset can help you stay motivated to stick to your healthy eating plan. Just keep in mind that diet boredom and eating the same old foods could also be a factor in your plateau.
To keep from falling off the wagon, have “today-only goals.” Go for a quick run, split that cookie with a friend, skip the sugary cocktail at dinner.
4. Give yourself a hand.
It’s common to overeat because you’re bored or upset about something (aka “emotional eating”). The next time you find yourself diving in for seconds, try tensing your fists to stop yourself from noshing, suggests Dr. Albers. “Clenching your fist while thinking ‘no’ helps you stay true to that behavior. You’re seeing an action and feeling it.” For more helpful strategies, try these nine mindful eating tips.
5. Clean up your environment.
It might seem like an odd way to kick-start weight loss, but getting your home and kitchen organized can help you feel like you’ve got a handle on your weight. “The more in control you feel in your external environment, the more you feel in control internally,” says Dr. Albers. Get rid of the junk (and junk food!), and get your kitchen, home and office in tip-top shape to start inspiring calm and clarity from the inside out.
6. Stop dwelling on your diet.
“The time you spend away from a problem is just as important as the time you spend trying to solve that problem,” says Sullivan. Since you’re not going to be able to eat and exercise perfectly every day, it’s important to avoid stressing over it 24/7. Spending too much time “fixing” a problem limits how far you’ll actually get. “Most people don’t know this, so they keep banging their head against a wall. That’s the very epitome of a mental plateau becoming a physical plateau.” Keep tabs of your daily food intake and workouts, but remember there’s more to life outside the confines of your diet. Keep your interests varied and social life active!
7. Start with today.
The disappointment you feel when you don’t see the number you want on the scale can lead to a dangerous cycle of negative thinking. People don’t really get depressed because the scale reads 152 instead of 150, they get depressed because they feel fat, says Sullivan. This can lead to feelings of fatalism (i.e. “I might as well just eat that quart of ice cream anyway”), which can lead to binge eating, research shows.
To keep from falling off the wagon, have “today-only goals,” suggests Sullivan. Go for a quick run, split that cookie with a friend, skip the sugary cocktail at dinner. Celebrate these small victories to get back a sense of control, power and achievement. “Take care of the little things and the big things will follow.”
9 Very Important Tips to Remember If You’re Serious About Losing Weight
I feel confident saying that everyone who starts the weight loss process does so with the best of intentions. Meaning, they want to change their life and are serious about losing weight. Maybe they had a weight loss “a-ha” moment which resulted in a burst of motivation. Or it’s possible they just wanted to lose a few pounds and/or simply live a healthier lifestyle. Regardless of the reason, most people don’t start the weight loss process with failure in mind.
However, losing weight can be hard and quickly gets frustrating. Soon all your best intentions go out the window because you’re not seeing the results you hoped for. Trust me, I get it.
In my former life, I was an expert in starting a diet and then giving up 1-2 days later. I started each diet motivated thinking “this was finally the time I was going to get serious about losing weight” only to fail shortly after starting. It was so discouraging.
During that time, I thought I was serious about losing weight. Just like you, I thought about it everyday – in fact, it often consumed me. I didn’t realize some of my “well-intentioned” efforts were actually sabotaging my weight loss goals.
In October 2010, I started the weight loss journey that lead me to where I am today. I did things very different and completely changed my life. I’m not saying I’m perfect. Unfortunately, I still have weeks where I get off track and gain weight. Hey, I’m human. However, I’m definitely not the girl I was when I started – I’ve learned A LOT since that time. I’ve talked before about the lessons I learned throughout my weight loss journey. I shared the 6 things I’ve learned about food, 10 things I learned after being on my journey 4 years, and I even gave my heavier self 4 pieces of advice that I feel are pretty powerful.
Now I want to share 7 tips that I think are very important if you’re serious about losing weight – it’s not as simple as eating less and moving more – well it is but there’s much more to it.
In the 7+ years on my weight loss journey I’ve learned that if I don’t take all 7 of these tips seriously then I won’t lose weight or worse I’ll gain. I’ve experience this time after time so to help you get serious about losing weight I wanted to share these tips.
1. You can’t exercise away a bad diet
Unfortunately, no matter how you cut, slice, or dice it you can’t exercise away a bad diet. So, if you start the weight loss process with this mindset then you’re setting yourself up for failure. It will become very frustrating to exercise only to experience zero results on the scale or with clothes.
The first 30lbs I lost was the result of tracking calories and portion control – I didn’t exercise at all. Don’t get me wrong, if I could go back in time I would’ve made exercise a priority along with changing my eating habits. Once I finally did another 10 lbs came off. However, the truth is, the bulk of my weight came off because I ate less…period. The lesson is that food matters more than exercise when it comes to losing weight.
I learned this lesson the hard way. 4-5 years into my weight loss journey I got lazy with tracking. I was still exercising but not tracking, like I should, the food I ate. I wouldn’t say I went back to old eating habits. The problem at that point in my journey was with the little extra bites, licks, and sips I didn’t pay attention too. Those little bites added up and it showed on the scale and also in my pant size. No matter how long I ran on the treadmill it didn’t undo all the extra calories I was consuming.
It’s been stated many times that weight loss is 80% food and 20% exercise. Have you ever heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”? This is very true and shouldn’t be ignored if you’re serious about losing weight.
Today I look at exercise very differently. The benefits of exercise go far beyond looking good in skinny jeans. Of course, it’s awesome to slip on a pair of jeans or wear a bathing suit with confidence but the emotional and psychological benefits, in opinion, far outweigh the physical. When I get in a solid workout I feel focused, less stressed, and simply happier. Life just seems easier when I exercise on a regular basis. This is why I exercise. Not so I can eat a donut.
Exercise to feel good and take care of your body – not so you can eat junk. Exercise is not a means to more food.
2. Cardio isn’t going to cut it
Here’s another lesson I learned the hard way. Some people would call me a cardio queen, and they’d be right. For the reasons I stated above, I love to run. However, over time running just didn’t cut it anymore. Yes I still got all the emotional and psychological benefits but I wasn’t seeing results on the scale. Of course, some of that had to do with the extra calories I was consuming too and like I said we can’t exercise our way out of a bad diet.
Anyway, when I started doing strength-training is when I saw really changes in my weight and body. I didn’t do anything crazy, it’s not like I was training for body-building competitions. Nope, I was doing simple resistant band exercises, basic squats and crunches, along with modified push-ups. My entire toning routing took about 15 minutes.
Building lean muscle burns more calories all day, cardio burns calories while you’re doing it. If you’re serious about losing weight and changing the way your body looks then strength-training exercising are a must.
Here are some strength-training exercise to get you started:
3. Not all Foods Are Created Equal
If you want to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you eat. Truthfully, those calories can consist of whatever food you want. Seriously, I’ve read a study years ago that a man ate 1500 calories in twinkies for a month and lost like 20lbs. Now, of course, I don’t condone a twinkie diet but the point is as long as you stay within your daily caloric limit you’ll lose weight.
The thing is, food is not created equal and what you eat does matter. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains will provide much more nutrition and satsify you longer than processed foods. Think about it. If you ate an apple with almond butter you’re going to feel full longer than if you wasted those calories on a twinkie. Sure both foods have around the same calories but each one with effect your body much differently.
Once I started to eat cleaner foods I felt much better than when I would try to survive off lean cuisines and other processed meals. I felt satisfied, less bloated, healthier, more focused, and the list goes on and on. I notice a difference immediately with the way my body responded to whole foods compared to junk.
Changing your eating habits isn’t just eating less junk it’s about eating more nutritious clean wholesome foods. That’s what will help to create longterm sustainable healthy eating habits.
Here are some posts about clean eating to get you started.
4. If You Don’t Remember What You Ate, Then You Ate too Much
When I first started on my weight loss journey I was a meal tracking ninja. Everything that went into my mouth I paid attention too. Then, a few years into my journey, I got complacent. I didn’t track like I should and slowly started to eat more calories. Eventually, those extra licks, bites, and sips brought some weight back on. I learned the only way to stay honest with food is to track it.
Some people don’t like to track, and I’ll admit it’s annoying at times to plug everything into My Fitness Pal. However, one thing I learned is that if I don’t remember what I ate then I most likely ate too much. And if I’m serious about losing weight, or even just maintaining, then I need to pay attention to the food I eat.
5. Consistency is Key
This one is HUGE. You won’t lose weight by tracking foods when you feel like it, meal planning once in awhile, or preparing food and exercising when you have time. In order to create sustainable weight loss you need to implement thse habits into your lifestyle and do them consistently. That’s the only way you’ll see long-term results and experience the benefits from any of these habits.
I wrote more about this topic here.
6. Willpower will only take you so far – self-discipline is a must!
If you are serious about losing weight then you MUST set your environment up for success right from the start. You must practice self-discipline. This means removing trigger foods from your home and ensuring there’s portion-control healthy options available. It also means putting in place habits and routines that will control stress and chaos so you’re not drowning in the hot zone – remember healthy choices are rarely made in the hot zone. It means taking the time to make exercise a priority instead of leaving it up to the schedule gods. It’s being prepared ahead of time so you’re in better control to make healthier choices.
Willpower is not a long-term sustainable weight loss strategy. You should never have to dip into willpower reserves when you’re in an environment you can control. Think about it, if you love Doritos and keep Doritos in the house it’s only matter of time before you give in and have a few…then another few. Before you know it the bag is gone and you feel horrible. Trust me, I get it. Cheez-it’s can’t be within 10 ft of my house. If you are surrounded by foods you need willpower to resist then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t torture yourself, create an environment that supports your weight loss efforts, this means having the self-discipline to keep trigger foods out.
Willpower should be reserved for environments you don’t have control over. For example, a holiday party, dinner party at a friends, work party, break room snacks, movie theatre, and other places like that. Those are the times you need to pull out the willpower card.
Here are some other helpful posts:
7. If it’s not in your schedule then it’s not a priority – manage your time
Not having the time is one of the top reasons people don’t exercise, meal prep, meal plan, organize their hot zones, among other habits that would make their life better. Listen, I understand busy. We are all busy. But here’s the thing – if you want to change your life, get healthier, and lose weight you are going to have to make it a priority. This means managing your time. It also means taking a hard look at where your time is going. Whether we like it or not, we all have time suckers. Maybe we sleep in too late, spend too much time on Facebook, play videos games, or watch too many shows. I’m not saying we can’t have down time, we all need to relax. However, if there are things that take up too much time when you could be doing something more productive I’m simply suggesting taking a look at that.
Also, habits like meal planning and meal prep do take time up front but they actually save you so much time during the week. Exercise will give you more energy to do the things you want to do. And who doesn’t like organization? I’m not saying we need to be OCD but getting control over the clutter and chaos will ultimately save time during the week.
Remember this quote “If it’s a priority, you’ll find the time. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse”
8. Learn to cope with stress in healthy ways
There’s no way around it – stress is going to happen. Some of it we have control over and some we don’t. But what we do have control over is the way we react to the stress that’s brought into our life. I always say, you can get bitter or you get better. You can choose anger or you can choose forgiveness. You can harbor resentment or you can learn to let go. This is your choice. Regardless of the circumstance YOU choose how to react. That’s on you.
You are the one who will have to carry around the way you cope with stress. Therefore, if you fall into a downward spiral every time you’re faced with a stressful situation it’s going to be very difficult to work on eating healthier and other habits. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to lose weight when you don’t cope with stress in a healthy way. So, if stress keeps you from achieving goals then I recommend working on your coping skills prior to focusing on losing weight.
9. You must step out of your comfort zone
You can’t expect results by continue to live life the way you are living it – change never happens in your comfort zone. I know our comfort zones are…well…comfortable. Many of our habits we’ve depended on our entire life so it can be extremely difficult to walk away from them But, if you want life to be different then you are going to have to do different. You have to be open to trying new things and getting rid of the old habits that have held you back. Once you can do this then you’ll be ready for big life changes to happen.
Losing weight goes beyond eating less and moving more. Of course, those are the basics. But if you’re serious about losing weight then change needs to go much deeper. Once I recognize this is when I experienced weight loss and my life completely changed.
Would you add anything to this? I’d love to hear what you’re experiences are.
Other Health Measurements to Consider
Because weight and BMI don’t take the social determinants of health into account, “such as whether somebody’s health is impacted by poverty, disability, stigma and discrimination, or other important factors,” Jovanovski believes a more accurate definition of “health” and overall wellness would encompass a combination of physical, psychological, and sociological measures. “These factors cannot be viewed separately,” she says.
According to Richardson, the key to better health isn’t in deprivation, but in fostering positive behaviors in every facet of life. “I recommend focusing on increasing healthy behaviors,” he says. “If a person is able to quit smoking, eat fewer processed foods, and incorporate more activity in their daily life, I’m not very worried if the number on the scale doesn’t shift. I know they are improving their health in the long term, and weight changes will come over time.”
Getting started on a healthier path and making healthy habits stick doesn’t have to be complicated. “Strapping on a Fitbit device and tracking your daily activity is a great place to begin,” says Morris. “From there it’s all about taking small steps towards your goals—swap out candy for fruit, soft drinks for water, and make choices that help you to be more active, like parking in the farthest spot, and inviting your girlfriends to a dance class instead of a boozy happy hour.”
When healthy habits become a lifestyle, the number on the scale can go back to being exactly what it is—one little metric about your body, not some crazy number that defines your health or who you are.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.
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