Usually, when penning my column, I try to think up a snappy title that will jump out of the page, arrest the reader and prove a dynamic lead-in to the content that follows. However this week, my headline is quite ordinary, you can see that I’ve not bothered! And the reason that I’ve not bothered is because the simple title above is all that’s needed to capture readers’ attention.
Our modern society suffers from an ‘overweight epidemic’ and an estimated 40% of UK adults are now overweight so any advice and strategies that support weight loss are sure to grab the attention because the problem is so prevalent. Now by far the most common strategy that people employ to help them to lose weight is to go on a diet but diets are like taking the Tube in London. If you miss one it doesn’t matter because they’ll be another one along in a minute.
Let’s do a quick test. Hands up all those who at some point in their lives have been on some sort of a diet. Right, hands down again now because I can’t see the sky! Joking apart though, it’s true, most people have dieted and many of those people have dieted again and again. And again. Well if diets were so successful, how come serial dieters are commonplace? Well initially, the idea of going on a diet might seem attractive. Just a few weeks of watching what you eat, ie: cutting out alcohol/sugar/crisps/chips/food (just choose whichever applies here) and hey presto! you’ve dropped several pounds and then you can stop the diet because the job’s done.
But then you resume your original eating plan – the one that caused you to decide to go on a diet in the first place! And we know what happens soon afterwards – the pounds return AND they bring some of their friends along too and a few months later you weigh more than before you started the diet! So you decide to go on a diet. Again. The problem then repeats ad infinitum as you become trapped in the cycle of serial dieting. STOP! Let’s talk positive and this week look at how you can lose weight, keep the weight off and manage your future weight indefinitely and successfully and to underpin this information I’m going to draw on new research from the Oregon Health & Science University in the USA which supports my view that diets don’t work.
1. You can’t go it alone. Dieting in isolation will result in weight loss. Initially. However very soon afterwards your weight loss will slow and then stall because your metabolic rate also slows to conserve calories. Then , once you come off your diet your body smartly stores more calories as fat (a clever insurance policy to ensure that if starvation mode ever returns, there’s more ‘standby’). This is borne out by the new research that identifies that cutting down on calories is ineffective because it simply causes a reduction in energy expenditure resulting in stalemate. So diets don’t work.
2. Exercise is essential. Exercise burns calories – we all know that fact so to begin with, up your quota of exercise and you’re starting to win the battle of the bulge straight away. Secondly, eat correctly (NOT DIET) and you’re now adopting a twin-track approach to weight loss (and getting fitter and healthier en route as well). Quoting the Oregon research, the senior scientist said; ‘simple dieting will not cause substantial weight loss. Instead, diet and exercise must be combined to achieve this goal’. So cutting down on calories is ineffective unless accompanied by an increase in exercise. So exercise does work.
3. Re-educate your palate. We know that jumping on and off the diet bus is a journey to nowhere, resulting in an increase in weight not a decrease. That’s because by yo-yo dieting, you’re reverting to your previous nutrition plan when you step off the diet, the exact same nutrition plan that caused you to decide to diet in the first place. The correct and long-term solution is to change what you’re eating by focusing on healthy eating and in the right quantities. I stress quantities here because time and again, a new Personal Training Client will tell me how healthy their meals are yet their number one goal is to lose two stones in weight. Clearly if you’re eating healthily but struggling with a weight management problem then you’re not burning enough of the calories you’re consuming, ie: you’re eating too much. So eating correctly does work.
4. Change your life. Now that’s a dramatic column heading I’ll concur but for successful, long-term and easy weight management and avoiding the problems and heartache that accompanies serial dieting then you have to make changes and make those changes permanent. Exercise needs to become your friend, not your enemy. Unsuitable nutrition needs to become your enemy, not your friend. The latest diet fad needs to become something that you run away from, not towards. By adopting those three basic principles, you’ll have your life in balance and you’ll feel, look and be a whole lot healthier into the bargain. Alternatively you could spend much of the day planning what you’re not going to eat, always focusing on what you’re not going to have when you go out for a meal and pay no attention to your body’s essential needs to keep fit and healthy through all-round balanced exercise. Change your life and feel great!
5. . . . and finally, So, hopefully you’ve seen that there really is no mystery to losing weight, it simply falls down to a successful combination of healthy eating and in the right quantities and combined with exercise. Well that was a revelation wasn’t it! (Well I very much doubt that it was but there’s so much written these days about how complicated weight management is when in reality it’s down to those three issues and I like to keep things simple!). Those principles are exactly what we apply to our Personal Training Clients and they love the process so I can prove that it works! Best wishes from all the body4life health & fitness Team – that’s me, Duncan, Dave, Alison and Tony (I think we’ve got the balance right!).
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