Out of every three American adults one is obese, one is overweight, and only one is lean. All of us are at risk for gaining more weight. I have clients that come to me and their number one goal after leaving the session is that they want to lose weight. From the latest “five-day detox diet” to the “cheat yourself slim (3-1-2-1 Diet), most dieting myths focus on how to lose weight. Yet all of these myths, misunderstandings, and excuses might also explain how we got that spare tire in the first place. Losing weight and keeping it off is tough! Here are a few weight mistakes to help us avoid expanding our waist lines.
I can lose it later. Whether it’s that you’re going on vacation or that you’re having 5 birthday celebrations in one month, the train of thought “I’ll just cut back when things get back to normal” is easier said than done. Kevin Hall, senior investigator in the Laboratory of Biological Modeling at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases studied just that. His findings? “The funny thing was that they wouldn’t have lost all the new weight by the time the next holiday period came around.” So those frequent indulgences can have lasting consequences. So why is it SO hard to lose those extra pounds that are SO easy to put on??
1. You’ve lost muscle: 25% of the weight lost is lean tissue.
2. Exercise burns fewer calories: As you’re losing weight, moving around becomes easier and this burns fewer calories than it used to.
3. Your metabolism is slower: As you cut calories your metabolism slows down. Your body is adjusting to fewer calories and therefore burns fewer calories per minute. As you lose at least 10% of your weight and your weight becomes stable you’d need to adjust and eat ~10-15% fewer calories to keep the weight off. Your body is burning fewer calories both at rest and when you move. The bottom line: Simply thinking that you can lose the weight later isn’t as easy as you might think.
Once it’s off, it’ll stay off. You’ve committed to losing weight. You’ve started your “diet” and made many changes in your eating habits. 6 months go by and you’ve lost those 10-20 pounds you so desperately wanted to lose. But, slowly they start to reappear. What’s happening? Many times people start off and they are all gung ho in making drastic changes. They start to lose weight. But then some old habits start to creep in and they’re eating more – still losing weight (because it’s less than what they used to eat) but now more than what they initially started their diet at. And then the weight starts to creep back up. The bottom line: You regain weight many times because you start eating more. Simple but true. I try and teach my clients to use food log applications, i.e. FatSecret, LoseIt, MyFitnessPal. Check in with yourself and get an idea of how much you’re eating. We start to get more generous with our portions and slip back into our old ways. The log isn’t something you have to do daily, but as a way to keep yourself accountable, it’s a good tool.
It’s hard to avoid overeating. Food is everywhere!! You’ve cleared your kitchen of all the foods that lead to overeating, sure. What about all the other places that can lead to overeating?? Shopping malls, airports, restaurants, any other public place practically? Food is available everywhere. It’s part of our social interactions. It’s now even socially accepted to eat during meetings. (Unless of course you bring your own meal, but then that’s probably not the social norm either – leave it to me to be the oddballJ). The problem with meals eaten out of the house is the size of the meals. Not only are the portion sizes supersized but the calories are excessive. I’ve had this discussion with many people before, they think they’re selecting the healthier option when eating out (and many of the examples given when showing this supersized, monstrous calories aren’t the meals that they’re eating). The fact of the matter is you don’t know who prepared the food for you. Did the chef use a little extra butter this time around to make your veggies (that you thought were steamed?) Did you bag up a to-go bag because the portion really is more than you should eat? Or did you just go for it? More and more these days people are eating out. The frequency of the meals eaten out needs to be taken into account as it’s more the norm than it used to be before. The bottom line: what’s typically served in restaurants can make you gain weight.
You can boost your metabolism. Many companies are promoting their products to “support energy and metabolism”, yet need virtually no evidence to make these claims. Many researchers believe that this claim of “boosting your metabolism” is overblown. It’s easy to consume a large quantity of calories, but yet there is nothing you can remotely do to change your metabolism by anywhere near that much. Unless you can spend all day at the gym.
Green tea is one that’s recently been discussed to have a “boost in your metabolism.” Some of the smaller studies do show that it can lead to an increase in metabolism; however, the long-term studies find that it makes little or no difference when it comes to weight. The bottom line: you’re not going to lose much weight from foods/supplements that claim to “boost your metabolism.”
There’s a magic bullet diet. The researchers looked and the bottom line, don’t hold out hope for some “miracle” diet. They looked at studies that showed results for at least a year after (or even two years after) because as we all know it’s the sustained weight loss that we all want/desire. They found that in all of the diets they all produced about the same amount of weight loss – and the key for weight loss is the long game. What are people willing to stick with and do. I encourage people to start making healthy lifestyle changes that begin now. As you begin to adopt different lifestyle habits, then begin working on more. Each healthy change you make now impacts you long-term.
I can work off the extra calories. “I’ll eat these cookies now, but I’ll go run this afternoon.” Worst thought process ever. People overestimate the number of calories that they’ll burn from doing exercise.
The studies show that people who actually cut calories lose more weight than those that are told to exercise more (although a mix of diet plus exercise is best in many studies.) You need to do exercise for your overall healthy, but for most people exercise isn’t the solution for losing weight. Bottom line: exercise when you can, but don’t count on it alone to lose (or keep off) those extra pounds.
Losing weight is tough. Keeping the weight off is even tougher. I think that sometimes if people knew how hard it may be to lose the weight for good they might think twice about eating that extra slice of pizza or having that dessert at dinner.