Yes, we have all done it. That fateful morning when you step out of bed and realize that you feel lethargic and bloated. While showering you look down at your stomache and thighs and think some alien infiltrated your body overnight and expanded your skin. While reviewing yourself in the mirror (face only) you mentally articulate your devastating realization: “Wow, I feel so….so FAT”. In a desperate measure to convince yourself otherwise, you try to ram your behind into the pants that are usually just a “little snug”. This time, unfortunately, they are not just snug but are simply unwearable: like everything else in your closet. Ughh….you think: yet another expensive shopping trip to buy a pair of “big pants”.
What happens next is the mental mind game that is debilitating: low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy quickly set in. Slender people become the focus of your wrath as you glare at them while telling yourself that they must just have good genes and they have it SO easy. A tropical or summer vacation becomes a pinnacle of fear as the thought of wearing a bathing suit while seated next to the skinny-minnie beach babe is unbearable.
Then the fateful day comes where you embark upon that life changing moment: you decide to DIET. With best intentions, you take on the challenge to shed your skin, convincing yourself that it IS possible to lose 10 kilograms in 10 days (the before and after testimonials on the television PROVE it!!!). You can become your former 16 year old svelte self if you just diet for X number of days to lose X number of kilograms. YES!!! This time you can complete THIS diet as the “short term pain will result in long term gain”.
Once you have decided upon your metamorphosis, a start date is chosen which is usually a Monday. This projected beginning allows you to have one last celebration with the foods and drink that will be denied upon your new regimen. Woo-hoo!!! When you have to lose 20 kilograms what’s another 2 to lose after a “good” binge weekend?
You start the new program with vigor and drive….until around the third day. Your good intentions slowly begin to crumble as your body starts to crave what it knows so well: sugar, starch, simple carbohydrates, trans fat. You haven’t eaten chocolate mousse for six months but by day three you are craving that creamy fat-laden treat and are having fantasies of being dipped in a vat of it.
By day four, you now know there is no mistake that the word’s first 3 letters spell DIE, as once you are into it you feel like the life as you know it has ended forever. Your stomache is turning itself inside out due to gurgling and the sweats and cramping are overwhelming… you’ve had flu’s with less severe symptoms! How can anyone sustain themselves on such a minimal amount of food?
By day five your wrath is focused upon the diet’s creator: how could he have been so cruel and mean to devise such torture laden plans? Rabbits eat more than this! Every thought you have is about food and what you could be eating at this very moment, if not for this four letter word: D-I-E-T.
By day seven the little voices in your head have started talking back:
- “just one little ‘snack’ cannot hurt”
- “it is not ‘cheating’ if it is a special event” (note this would be one of the events that you would have previously avoided as you felt too ugly to go)
- “nobody can sustain themselves like this and I cannot function as a good ________ (insert one: parent, employee, partner, boss, caregiver, etc) while eating this little”
- “well, I have lost a couple of kilograms so a little reward for a job well done won’t hurt”
Even if you are able to stay focused and remain on the diet, once it has ended, it is not long before you fall back into our old habits and the cycle eventually starts all over again.
You are not alone in this pattern of behavior. In fact, approximately 46% of North American men and women initiate weight loss in any given year and 84% use a change in diet to get results. In the UK in 2013, over 29 million British people attempted to lose weight and only 5% of women never worry about their weight, and just 17% of men.
It is not surprising given that we are bombarded with visuals of Hollywood and television starlets who are shockingly underweight. Little do we know while staring at their mini-me bodies that such quaffed anorexics employ full time personal trainers, wardrobe consultants, graphic artists (to airbrush away their nutritionally deprived pimply skin), hairstylists and makeup artists to assist them in their unattainable looks. If Marilyn Monroe auditioned for a leading lady roles in today’s world she would be told to take some diet pills and come back when she was 30 kilograms lighter!
Other than the psychological damage that diet’s force upon you, what is most disconcerting about this North American phenomenon is the fact that it doesn’t work. Let’s say this one more time: IT DOES NOT WORK. If it did, the weight loss clinics and late night TV television exercise ads would be out of business! Yo-yo dieting has the added effect of steady weight gain.
A recent medical study reviewed the long-term outcomes of calorie-restricting diets. The outcome? One third to two thirds of dieters regain more weight over time than they lost initially on their diets. Additionally, there was no consistent evidence that dieting results in any kind of significant health improvement, no matter how much weight is lost. So there is little evidence that diets lead to lasting weight loss or health benefits.
Why is this the case?
Your body is made up of 70% water. So when you get the flu for 48 hours and think the only benefit is that you became slimmer, it is because you are dehydrated and have lost water not fat: you are a human pickle. Likewise to get fast results, many commercial diets are based upon dehydration techniques to make it easier to lose the 10 kilograms of water within several days.
Your body is smart. When you suddenly give it fewer calories it starts to adjust and says “hmmmm…..I better save some for later as I don’t know what this nut is going to do next!”. So your body slows your metabolism down to adjust to the reduced intake. But….and listen up here…a diet without an increase in exercise will result in a reduction in lean muscle mass before fat will be reduced. It is estimated that when you lose 2lbs or more per week, 30-40% of the weight loss is actually muscle.
With muscle being five times more ‘active’ than fat (meaning by just being there muscle burns off 5 times more calories than fat), by depleting muscle mass it becomes even harder to keep the weight off in the long term. It becomes a crazy cycle as reduction of muscle causes an even greater reduction in your metabolism which means you need to eat even fewer calories to lose any weight (remember the “plateau” you hit where no matter what you do you cannot lose any more weight even though the rolls on your belly are telling you that you haven’t gotten to where you need to be?). Also, by dieting alone, if you stop your diet or go back to old eating habits, then the weight will come back on even faster, as your body has less muscle so is burning far fewer calories per day. Even worse, is that weight gain after a diet is mostly fat rather than the muscle you lost.
There is no argument that being overweight or obese is a serious health risk, not to mention a self-esteem breaker, so if dieting doesn’t work, what can be done?
The best thing you can start doing is to take baby steps. By reducing calories gradually over time you will readjust your metabolism with long term effects. By reducing calories gradually (say 100 calories a week for one month, then an additional 100 calories the second, and so on) you can make a long term difference. These changes can be simple ones that are easy to adhere to such as opting for milk not cream in coffee, or having fruit instead of cookies for a snack each day. Over time, instead of gaining a few kilograms each year (which over ten years results in the panic diet mode) you can shed a few each year with long term benefits and results. Your metabolism will gradually adjust allowing for maintenance of your muscle mass and allowing your body to burn the fat off.
Feed your body with energy rich foods not empty calories high in fat and salt. By incorporating in good foods, like a protein rich smoothie every morning to kick start your day, or an energy dense bar for a snack that gets you to dinner, you will start to see and feel a difference. The low energy mood swings of the past will give way to feelings of empowerment and oomp!
Another thing you have to do is to MOVE. I am not going to lecture you about the 30×4 rule (30 minutes of aerobic activity like a brisk walk, running, biking or swimming for 4 times a week) as a core part of remaining fit. This is what we all aspire to do but end up saying “yes, I know, but where do I find the TIME?”. Well, start clocking how much time you spend on the Internet or watching TV and trust me, this little lie to yourself will be exposed pretty quickly.
But there are ways to get busy without getting a gym membership that you will never use. Although I do enjoy a daily workout as it has become part of my day.
But if you can’t get to the gym, or do a long walk, run or other work out don’t despair. There are so many things in day that can all add up to make a difference – you just need to START and to KEEP on doing it! Here’s just a couple of tips:
- Take the stairs – always. Don’t do elevators, escalators or hot air balloons unless you MUST.
- Wake up every morning to a full stretch without even getting out of bed! Lie in bed and reach your arms up high over your head with feet pointed down. Start the stretch at your finger tips and work its way down to your toes. Try to feel every muscle pulling as you do it. Once fully extended release just as slowly. the stretch should be 30 seconds with the release another 30. Do it 5 times for one minute each.
- When standing in any line (grocery, bank, etc) try to slowly lift up one foot 2 inches off the ground. Balance for 30 seconds and slowly put it down and do same with other foot. This sounds a lot easier than it is and is a great way to tighten your Tuckus (butt).
- Walk whenever you can instead of driving. Park at the far back of the mall and walk to the doors instead of taking 10 minutes to find the closest spot.
- When you get to any red light while in your car sit up straight, shoulders rolled back and flex your stomache muscles (tighten and release) until you get the green.
- Every night before bed do some try-to-touch-the-toes with the kids. Remember it is the trying that counts and stretch gently without rocking. Over time those toes will be staring you in the eye.
- Start to listen to your breathing and how your heart is moving with you, especially when doing something strenuous.
- Breathe through stress with deep breaths to get the oxygen to your lungs and brain. Breathing can help your body to feel energized and active.
- Add in MCT powder into your daily routine to burn calories on the spot and Yacon Powder to shed the kilograms.
- Add in excellent fiber in the morning, like 2 tablespoons/15mg of chia, so that
Once you have mastered a few of the daily steps to get your blood flowing and body awareness happening you can move on to the brisk walk and the aerobic routines to really jump start your body. Trust me – once you get in to the “move groove” you will not want to stop!
Remember that studies show that successful long-term weight loss maintainers (average weight loss of 30 kg for an average of 5.5 years) share common strategies, including eating a diet low in fat, frequent self-monitoring of body weight and food intake, and high levels of regular physical activity. Even better news is that once these successful maintainers have maintained a weight loss for 2–5 years, the chances of longer-term success greatly increased!
The standard quick fix approach to weight loss is not only ineffective long term but on average will make you bigger and less healthy than when you began. Most weight gain takes place over time so to think you can loose it without a commitment of time is unrealistic. To have long term results you need to take baby steps to reduce food consumption to keep your metabolism happy and healthy. By then increasing energy rich food alternatives, instead of the easy go to’s of nutrient poor processed and starchy foods, your body will be even more engaged and ready to take on new challenges. By also making small but steady changes to your activity levels, you will facilitate weight loss and have greater energy.
So stand up, stretch and cheer!
WHAT YOU NOW KNOW:
APPLY TO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE:
- Commit to applying healthy daily food routines.
- Add simple things like a protein rich smoothies to your morning routine and keeping high protein energy bars or a MCT powder in your purse. Stick to it – you can do it!
- Once changes are part of your routine add additional ones to help get that extra bit healthier and fitter.
- Move. Just move! Start slowly and work up. Get in to the “move groove” and your body will ask for more.
i Neilsen Global Online. “Neilsen: Diet and Eating: A Canadian Perspective”. The Neilsen Company, November 2008.
By SEAN POULTER FOR THE DAILY MAIL
ii PUBLISHED: 14:17 GMT, 2 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:04 GMT, 3 January 2014
iii Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E, Lew AM, Samuels B, Chatman J. “Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer.” Am Psychol. 2007 Apr;62(3):220-33.
iv Rena R Wing, James O Hill. “Successful Weight Loss Maintenance”. Annual Review Of Nutrition, 2001, Jul, 21 323-341.