Whether it’s a New Years resolution, or just a desire to look and feel better, people jump ahead into self-prescribed weight loss routines constantly. Looking around, its plain to see that many of us are genuinely in need of some change. Bulging waistbands, skyrocketing stress levels, and a proliferation of cheap and fast food has created a situation that demands our attention, on a personal and as well as a national level.
In my experience, while diets come and go, it’s usually the theory most currently featured in the press that garners the most weight in peoples’ program decisions, regardless of merit. I know that in the past I have fallen prey to the flash of marketing and the implied trust of journalists covering these dietary theories. Remember the Atkins craze? I do, and in retrospect I’ve learned how the common knowledge pool many (like myself) drew on for the diet was painfully lacking in its accuracy and application. A diet that works very well for a niche, can easily be bastardized in the limelight and promoted as a panacea.
The fact is, there are hundreds of diets, and there are dozens of best-selling diets every year. How can this be if diets are all equal? The fact is, everyone is different, chemically, biologically, psychologically and so on, and all of these factors contribute to the efficacy of a weight-loss program. Bottom line, all of these diets work for some people. The question is, which one works for you, and will support you in making positive changes that last a lifetime.
1. Beginning Without the Proper Knowledge
Whether you look at low-carb, vegan, blood type, good/bad carb type diets, or your neighbor’s cabbage soup diet, what is most important is teaming up with someone who has the knowledge, time, and patience to understand you and your unique needs. With the proper support to channel the desire for a healthier life, anyone can achieve marvelous results. That is the first obstacle to avoid in any quest for wellness, beginning without the proper knowledge. If your goal is to lose weight for a specific event, to mitigate the effects of disease, or combat obesity and its related effects, knowledge and support are your most powerful tools.
2. “Diet” Drinks and Foods
Another common obstacle people unknowingly succumb to is the allure of “diet” foods. For example, looking at a diet soda as a tasty blessing in a bland landscape can do leagues more harm than good. Our bodies react almost instantly to stimuli, and that artificially sweet diet soda, while having no calories, still prompts your pancreas to produce a surge of insulin to combat the sweet signal in your brain. Insulin spikes in the blood stream are one of the biggest contributors to being overweight, so that diet soda could be prolonging or worsening your situation. Also, many diet items found throughout supermarkets (low-fat, light, etc.) are loaded with salt and sugar to compensate the change in taste. Be careful not to fall for the hype, a little time spent on the back of the box can help you lose the weight.
3. Crash Dieting
People also think that crash dieting is an effective tool to lose weight. In reality, the rapid dropping of calories and/or influx of intense exercise puts tremendous stress on the body, generally resulting in an increase of weight. This occurrence has long been known as yo-yo dieting, and has plagued men and women trying to lose weight and keep it off. Often, people make a radical shift in their diet, and they remove a lot of the foods they regularly eat, and in doing so remove a major cause of their excess weight (whether its food based, allergy based, or even a volume issue). Removing obstacles like this will inevitably lead to some weight loss relatively quickly, but certain issues are inherent in this approach. First is sustainability, because how long can you seriously only eat chicken and broccoli? Your food should be a source of sustenance and joy, and you should always be satisfied, a feeling crash diets can never offer. Second, many people lose a lot of water weight and inflammation, giving the illusion of actual fat loss. Inflammation is a serious problem that leads to and is indicative of many health issues, and is often the illusory weight that people lose in the beginning of a diet. Third, sudden shifts in diet and exercise put undue stress on the body, increasing cortisol, weakening the immune system, and decreasing the effectiveness of any weight you do lose. After all that, the end result is that 99% of people not only regain their weight, but they gain more due to the uptick of stress and immune system response, perpetuating a dangerous cycle.
4. Hyped Up, Stealth Junk Foods
Finally, be aware of stealth junk food. Pay attention to what you eat and avoid this pitfall. When you think about what you’re actually eating, you place a buffer between your hunger and your first reaction to grab the nearest food and shove as much as possible in your belly. A muffin is not health food, eating a yogurt and coffee for lunch is not a healthy alternative, and hype words like gluten-free, organic, natural and the like do not address your weight loss needs. Lets look at a simple example: a majority of people trying to lose weight often skip breakfast, or eat something small like coffee and a bagel, but to what end? Usually a much greater hunger during lunch, where people make decisions to go for a healthy salad or a yogurt, and continue through their work day. Finally they arrive home, and at this point are starving and max out portions of what they consider health food. A quick analysis of common foods, like bagels, yogurts, or ready made salads often reveal a tremendous number of empty calories, sugars, and artificial ingredients. Also, buying things at a chic “health” store, or just because its organic or natural, does not magically transform food, like ice cream, into a healthy weight loss option. Marketers spend a lot of effort making products look healthy. Natural sugar, cane sugar, organic cane juice, and turbinado are examples: they are all sugar, same dietary effect with a big marketing difference. Develop a plan, learn what foods your body needs, and feed it effectively to lose weight and feel great!
The decision to lose weight and begin a journey to wellness is a great one, especially with the support you need. When you do decide to be proactive about your choices, remember to watch for these common pitfalls. Not having a personal strategy, “diet” foods, crash dieting, and hidden junk food are common ways we get tripped up while trying to lose weight. Empower yourself today, and make a choice towards health. Try something as small as having a glass of water before you have a soda. Make some small changes to positively impact your health, and when you’re ready to lose the weight and keep it off, find a coach to help you determine the best strategy. Set up a free Health History consultation to see just how easy it can be to make strides towards wellness.
– John Garda
John Garda is a Holistic Health Coach working out of NY and Miami. He has been able to help his clients overcome their challenges, and now has a practice that focuses on helping busy individuals lower their stress, lose weight, achieve wellness, and love who they see in the mirror.
Visit John’s website.