If you want to lose weight, chances are you are going to go on a diet.
Well guess what, it is the number 1 worst thing to do for healthy and sustainable weight-loss.
WHY DIETS DON’T WORK
So many people are being told to diet when that is the very thing that will wreck their bodies. The diet and weight-loss industry is around $72 billion. Of course people are going to tell you anything and everything to keep that flow of money going.
The problem is that when you are told to diet, especially by a health practitioner, you don’t question it. You just do it, because it makes sense. It’s what you’ve been fed for the past 20, 30, 40 years, so you assume that it’s true. That dieting will work.
And then you engulf yourself in the never-ending spiral. You drastically reduce your calories. At first, you’re motivated. You see the weight shedding off. You don’t realize or care that it’s water weight, because you’ve always been told that the numbers on the scale are all that matters. You’re good at eating your veggies, your lean protein, and of course no carbs, because they are the devil. But you still treat yourself! Yes, I’m talking about the tiny square of super bitter dark chocolate you nibble on after lunch.
And then, something happens. You go out to lunch with a friend. They order pizza, and you know you should order a salad, but oh what the heck. You order pizza as well. That pizza tastes so good, you gobble it down and finish it off with a brownie for dessert. The second you’re done, you feel terrible. You feel disgusting.
When you get home, you realize that you’ve already screwed up for the day, so you might as well continue down that path. You eat an entire box of cookies and wash it down with a liter of soda, because you miss it so much. And your day of clean-eating is wrecked, anyway. Might as well eat hamburgers and fries for dinner while you’re at it, and start again fresh tomorrow.
You wake up the next day, feeling like a failure. Why can’t you just control yourself like everyone else? You weigh yourself, and see that you’ve gained three pounds. You feel miserable, like all your past efforts have been in vain. What even is the point of all of this? You laboriously have a healthy day of eating, trying to get yourself back on the right path. You weigh yourself again, and you’ve gained another pound. You decide this is all pointless, and give yourself a break.
A few months later, you’re 10 pounds heavier. You decide to diet again. This time, you’re going to stick to it. You’re motivated, it’s going to be beach season. You eat your salad with determination.
Flash forward a few months later. You’ve gained 15 pounds.
THIS is the cycle that around 80% of the population will follow, because that’s the way the dieting industry is designed. It works the first few weeks, so that you believe in it, then you gain the weight back and then some, but you keep coming back to the diet because you remember the initial weight-loss. Imagine if diets actually worked! People would diet once and then never again! Imagine the money loss!
If you want some scientific explanation behind this, you can check out some of these articles:
*Why you shouldn’t lose weight too fast
I feel like I need to make a few disclaimers on this previous section:
-The information applies to the general population. OF COURSE, there are certain conditions where diets are crucial, and some people who need diets to be healthy/get healthier.
-Just because YOU have been able to lose weight and maintain it by dieting (good for you!) doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone. Studies show that over 80% of diets actually don’t work long term.
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT…THE RIGHT WAY
Now, for most people, the best way to lose weight is by operating a lifestyle change. People don’t like to hear this, because it isn’t a quick fix. It’s not going to make you lose 20 pounds in 10 days. You will have to change, and that is uncomfortable. But let me tell you, it will work.
You first need to start with your nutrition. I totally advise against counting and restricting calories and cutting out all the “bad” foods. This will only lead to frustration and binge-eating later on.
I suggest looking into holistic nutrition. Holistic nutrition is a natural approach to eating healthily by taking into consideration all aspects of well-being, such as one’s health history, lifestyle, current diet, emotional state, and likes and dislikes in order to establish a personalized food and lifestyle plan. It focuses on addressing the root cause of a problem instead of treating the symptoms. The goal is to develop a healthy relationship with food and to understand the importance of nutrition for optimal health. You can look more into it HERE.
One aspect of holistic nutrition is mindful eating. Its goal is to focus your attention on the present experience, to be fully aware of your own thoughts, actions, and motivations. Eating mindfully means being aware of what you eat, and eating consciously in a healthy and balanced way in order to rediscover taste, flavor, and pleasure. Mindful eating involves listening to your hunger cues to know when you are hungry and when you are full.
At first, this is HARD. You’re probably overwhelmed with distorted eating cues telling you that you are hungry every five minutes. If you really put a lot of intention into writing down how hungry you are, what emotions you are feeling and anything else that could be relevant before/during/after a meal, you will start to recognize patterns. After a while, you’ll be used to tuning in, and you’ll be able to rely on your natural cues to know when to start and stop eating. You can look more into this HERE.
Some more quick advice:
- Ditch the processed foods as much as possible, and focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods. I suggest whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. I have a whole list of all the foods you should have at home in my optimal wellness and nutrition checklist that you can download for free below. It’s much harder to gain weight when you are eating an abundance of these types of food. Even if you over-eat at first while you figure out mindful eating, it will have a drastically different impact than if you’re over-consuming processed foods.
- Get some simple cookbooks and start making delicious recipes with great ingredients. If you eat a boring salad every day, of course you are going to get sick of it. But there are so many delicious and healthy food options! You can find great recipes online or invest in a cookbook. Again, keep them simple and develop a few healthy staple recipes to whip up quickly when you’re feeling lazy.
I know that a lot of you think that you just don’t have the time for this. I get it. But I promise you two things.
One, cooking healthily doesn’t take that much time. Throw some vegetables in a blender for a quick soup, make some whole-wheat pasta with fresh tomatoes, mix some chickpeas with onion, cucumber, and avocado for an easy salad…There are so many quick and healthy options to choose from, and after making them a few times, it’ll be even faster. Don’t hesitate to make big batches and freeze them as well!
Two, even if it does take up more time than heating up a processed dish, it will save you time in the long run: fewer doctor’s appointments, less time worrying about weight, less time yo-yo dieting… See where I’m getting at?
- Don’t ditch all the junk food. I know, pretty surprising. But actually, doing this will create cravings and you’ll end up jumping on any occasion you have to binge eat junk food. Instead, keep it to a minimum, but give it less power. Sure, you can have a hamburger. Just make it home-made and have it with salad and fruit. A cookie for dessert? No problem after your healthy meal of brown rice, beans, and veggies. Normalize eating these foods on occasion so that you don’t binge out on them later on.
I know, this seems hard. There’s a lot of information, and you just don’t have the time. But don’t let this be an endless “save for later” article that you never actually look back on, and even less implement. Take some action right away by doing at least ONE thing in favor of getting healthier. Then do another one tomorrow. It’s only hard in the beginning. Then, it becomes a habit.
If you want, you can get this information in checklist form with this free optimal health and nutrition checklist. With this you’ll be able to actually tick off boxes as you go and hold yourself accountable.
Don’t wait for January 2020.