What's the Deal?!
Let's be honest, there is a lot of information surfing the internet dealing with health, fitness, and wellness. Search after search, we look to the internet for advice. But how do we separate the fact from fiction? We have a tendency to follow sources that are familiar to us or that have been recommended to us. While there is nothing wrong with that, we still need to check those sources.
In today's society, with social media on the rise, it seems like everyone is an expert in something. This holds true to the health and fitness field too. We search for the person or source that has the highest amount of followers and the most likes. As a viewer who is looking to receive information, all we see are these aspects and assume this person must know what they are talking about. This doesn't always hold true, just because this source is popular with the media doesn't mean the information they are providing is accurate and up to date.
One topic, in particular, that commonly searched and widely mislead is weight loss or how to effectively lose weight. Obesity is a major concern due to its relationship to a wide variety of co-morbidities, like type II diabetes and CVD. We could write a novel with the amount of misguided information circulating the internet in relation to this topic. This tends to be a controversial topic with the amount of conflicting information as to how to effectively lose weight. Please note, this is an extremely broad topic and we are covering a small percentage of the weight loss picture. We are going to keep things simple and highlight some of the common myths and what is actually is needed to lose weight!
What people think they need to do...
Find the best diet fad:
The weight loss epidemic is a billion-dollar industry. With that, fad diets and exercise programs have skyrocketed. There is huge popularity in this industry looking for the best and quickest ways to get lean and lose weight. Sure, fad diets like intermitted fasting, juicing, and low carb diets work in the short term, but what about the long term? The effectiveness of these fad diets is still limited in their research as to their long term effects in regards to weight loss and overall benefits to these fads. Fad diets tend to work in the short term because they force us into a more calorie restricted state. On the flip side, fad diets are difficult to maintain over time. This in part due to the strict and restrictive guidelines. Each fad comes with its own set of rules which can be challenging to follow long term. As humans, we can usually bit our own tongue and follow a fad for a few weeks, but after that we fall off and end up right back where we started, participating in poor habits and regaining any if not more weight than starting with. We see a large amount of "yo-yo" dieting taking place when fads are involved. We start a fad, end the fad, start again maybe even with a new fad, then stop again. This cycle can go on for years, and in the end, leads us to feel discouraged and less likely to go back to a weight loss journey. Research also has indicated that not one fad diet was better than another in regard to weight loss. This is no such thing as the perfect diet.
Eliminate entire food groups:
Whether it's because of a fad or our own intuition, we feel that eliminating complete food groups is what's needed in order to be successful in weight loss. Now elimination type diets can be useful when looking to find trigger foods for health concerns like IBS. But the elimination of food groups entirely for no real reason is not an effective solution for long term weight loss. Eliminating groups of food, especially food you enjoy eating can lead to quicker and larger food binges when around specific foods. Elimination diets are also very stressful for both our bodies and our mental health. They should be avoided by anyone who has eating disorders, or anyone who is dealing with high levels of stress or anxiety. This is because we start to view food as either good or bad, and an unhealthy relationship with food and body image develops. We need to avoid having an all or nothing approach to weight loss. No food is actually bad, unless it causes health concerns, like being intolerant or allergic, or it is actually rotten. Plus, when we eliminate food groups we miss out on potential nutrients.
Heavily rely on supplements:
While supplementation can be a useful tool to add to an already nutrient dense lifestyle, many rely too much on supplements to help them to lose weight. The supplement industry is another billion-dollar industry and the supplement companies are waiting for you to spend money on products that may or may not work. Supplements are not cheap and let's be honest you probably excrete most of them away anyways. They have catchy slogans and labels that make them enticing to the consumer. The supplement industry is not a heavily regulated industry either. Their effectiveness on weight loss has not been well supported and there is also a potential of harm that could arise from taking unnecessary supplements. Supplements alone cannot make one lose weight, again there needs to be lifestyle and environmental changes to lead to weight loss. Whole foods should always come first!
Train every day at the highest intensity and do endless amounts of conditioning:
This is a big one, if we're not endless sweating and exhausted by the end of a training session, then we're not working hard enough. This is just not the case. Especially if you are a beginner to the fitness world going from zero to one hundred too quickly and lead to injury. This high demand for training is also hard to keep up with. If you are not used to training and don't really enjoy training this way, you might start to resent exercise. Ultimately, our bodies are like cars, if we push them past their limits then tend to break down sooner than later. High intensity training is an effective way to promote weight loss but it needs to be appropriately programmed and structured, it should not be done 24/7 all day every day. The same goes for conditioning or aka cardio. Cardio, is one of the first things people think they need to do more of if they need to lose weight, more cardio more calories burned? Again, while conditioning is another effective way to promote weight loss it does not have to be done to the point of exhaustion. Overtraining is real and can take you 10 steps backward.
What people actually need to do...
Being in a calorie deficit:
This is the number one way to lose weight, you have to be in a calorie deficit. It's a simple game of energy balance. One must burn more calories than they consume. This can be accomplished through both nourishment and movement. Yes, there are many factors that influence this but despite those factors, this is still something that needs to be implemented. Do be cautious, there is a difference in healthy and unhealthy calorie deficits. Do not starve yourself in order to get into a calorie deficit, again this has a great chance of binge and disordered eating in the future. We need food, food is energy, and we need the energy to live.
Focus on finding a nourish plan that fits your lifestyle:
We mentioned previously, there is no such this as a perfect diet. The best diet on the other hand is the one that works for you. You need to be consistent with your nourishment plan. If you cannot maintain a nourishment plan for more than 3 weeks then it's time to adjust. The plan might be too restrictive or too intense for your lifestyle. Finding a plan that works for you also promotes a healthy relationship with food. Food is not good nor bad, it's fuel, and this fuel is what is going to drive you towards success. It's okay to have a piece of cake or a scoop of ice cream. Learning to become mindful in regards to your nourishment is extremely helpful in this process. Understanding your body's cues as to when you are actually hungry vs being board is part of this process too. This should be fun, play around with new foods and recipes or enjoy the foods you know you love!
Focus on consuming quality proteins and on incorporating more veggies:
Fill your plate with lean quality proteins and a lot of veggies. Protein promotes satiety and can aid in the weight loss process. Protein is also helpful in the promotion of muscle growth and maintenance. Aim to meet your protein needs based on your activity level and fill in the rest with carbohydrates and fats. When looking at veggies, they are lower in calories and are packed with nutrients! We consider them volume foods, you can eat a large amount without a large number of calories. This is also a great way to make sure you are getting in as many whole foods as possible.
Focus on a structured program that includes progressive overload training, conditioning, and recovery:
There needs to be a balance in our training. Having a structured plan going into the gym or where ever you train will be helping to promote quality of movement, pain-free movement, and in turn promoting weight loss. Start with the basics, master the basics, and slowly being to progress your training. Training should have phases of higher, medium, and lower intensity. Oh, and don't forget about the recovery! We need to be able to combat the stressors of not only daily living but also our training sessions. Tracking progress is an important part of behavior change in regards to weight loss, therefore by having a plan in place you know where you're at and where you're going! Conditioning or cardio is always the first line of action, but strength and resistance training have a huge effect and benefit on the promotion of weight loss.
Do your homework!
As a consumer, it's important to do your research. Look into the sources you are looking to take information from in regards to weight loss. Find sources that are backed up by evidence and those who support evidence-based practices. When in doubt it's best to find a plan that fits your lifestyle. We have to remember that nutrition and movement are not a one size fits all approaches and we just started to scratch the surface of these topics. So, before you jump on the next latest and greatest trend do your homework.
Ultimately, developing strategies that are tailored to you, this will make you more likely to adhere to the plan and will be easier to maintain for a continued lifetime of better habits. Sure, there are many ways to go about weight loss but you do not have to go to extreme measures and be unhappy during the process. As with anything, there has to be some degree of change in regards to lifestyle and environmental factors, but it doesn't have to be a complete 360 right off the bat.
When looking at successful weight loss it's recommended it is a gradual weight loss. Rapid weight loss has been shown to have a quicker rate of weight regain. Start small and slowly progress your tool and skills to a successful and long term weight loss journey. Remember, whatever you do, consistency is KEY! You need to stay consistent with your lifestyle and behavior changes in order to see long term maintenance. It's not always easy, but the more consistent and the more you enjoy the process by finding things that work for you, the greater the success!
Embrace your journey!
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