When we discover that we are heavier than we want to be, we have a natural inclination to eat less food. We may skip lunch or eat only a tiny amount of our dinner in the hope that if we eat less our body will burn off some of its fat. But that is not necessarily true. Eating less actually makes it more difficult to lose weight.
Keep in mind that the human body took shape millions of years ago, and at that time there were diets. The only low-calorie event in people’s lives was starvation. Those who could cope with a temporary lack of food were the ones who survived. Our bodies, therefore, have developed this built-in mechanism to help us survive in the face of low food intake.
When researchers compare overweight and thin people, they find that they ear roughly the same number of calories. What makes overweight people different is the amount of fat that they eat. Thin people tend to eat less fat and more complex carbohydrates.
Losing weight is not something one can do overnight. A carefully planned weight loss program requires common sense and certain guidelines. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation floating around and lots of desperate people are easily duped and ripped off.
Every day one can open a magazine or newspaper and see advertisements touting some new product, pill or patch that will take excess weight off quickly. Everyone seems to be looking for that “magic” weight loss pill. Millions of Americans are trying to lose weight, we spend billions of dollars every year on diet programs and products.
Often people do lose some weight. But, if you check with the same people five years later, you will find that nearly all have regained whatever weight they lost. Many have gained even more weight back than they started with originally.
A survey was done recently to try and determine if any commercial diet program could prove long-term success. Not a single program could do so. So rampant has the so-called diet industry become with new products and false claims that the FDA has now stepped in and started clamping down.
Being seriously overweight and particularly obesity can develop into a number of diseases and serious health problems, and it is now a known fact that when caloric intake is excessive, some of the excess frequently is saturated fat.
The myth is that people get heavy by eating too many calories. Calories are a consideration it’s true, but overall they are not the cause of obesity in America today. Americans actually take in fewer calories each day than they did at the beginning of the century. If calories alone were the reason we become overweight, we should all be thin. But we are not. Collectively, we are heavier than ever. Partly, it is because we are more sedentary now. But equally, as important is the fact that the fat content of the American diet has changed dramatically.
People who diet without exercising often get fatter with time. Although your weight may initially drop while dieting, such weight loss consists mostly of water and muscle. In the long run excessive dieting works against you. Extreme diets that drastically restrict food intake can put your body into what I call “starvation stress mode”. The body thinks it is going to starve, so it lowers your metabolism, and reduces your body’s ability to burn the few calories that you do consume. So one way diets go wrong is by lowering your metabolism rate, making your body work against the very goal you are striving toward. To make it even worse, lower metabolism means that when the weight returns, it comes back as fat.
Another reason diets don’t work is because of the Law of Attraction. Yes, the law of attraction is always at work. If you are not familiar with the law of attraction it is the concept that like attracts like. There are many fine books out there that can explain in detail how the law of attraction works. To try and put it simply, our thoughts and feelings are like energetic magnets. What we focus our attention on we attract. Our thoughts and attention are to aspects of our lives like sunlight and water to a plant. Whatever we focus our attention on grows. So I invite you to pause for a moment and think about how our thoughts and feelings are focused when we are on a diet. For most, when we feel we need to go on a diet it is because we are feeling fat. We think we are not thin enough. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But it really isn’t. When we diet we are thinking and feeling fat. We are thinking and feeling not thin. So through the law of attraction we get more of feeling fat and we experience more of being not thin. That is one major reason diets usually don’t work for most of us long term. If you don’t believe me, look around at the results of the multi-billion dollar diet product industry. In America, more people are on diets than ever before and yet we still have the highest rate of obesity in our history. It is my observation that one of the biggest ways that diets go wrong because they focus our attention in the wrong direction.
So what does work? Increasing your metabolism works. One way to increase your metabolism is to feed it. Yes, you heard me right. Feed your metabolism
but do it wisely. I once worked with a personal trainer that turned me on to this little secret. Clearly it is a secret that the diet products industry would prefer you not know. But here it is. Instead of eating three meals a day, eat six smaller snack like meals throughout the day. I say snack like meals NOT snacks because I do not mean eat potato chips or other high calorie/high fat snack foods six times a day. I’m talking about consuming six small portions of healthy food that are taken from the basic food groups. Perhaps you can choose a piece of fresh fruit and a couple of ounces of lean protein as an example.
Also, to avoid getting fatter over time, you can increase your metabolism by exercising regularly. Select an exercise routine that you are comfortable with and remember that walking is one of the best and easiest exercises for strengthening your bones, controlling your weight and toning your muscles.
Exercise can be an essential element in healthy and sustainable weight loss. I am not a doctor, so I cannot and will not offer medical advice. I will advise that any weight loss program should be approved and monitored by your doctor. One factor that I have found to be essential in weight loss is not just exercise, but exercise that I enjoy
I know people who love to run or jog. If a friend were to ask me to join them go running, I would probably reply with a smarty-pants remark like, “Right. I’ll just run to my car and I’ll meet you at Starbucks when you are done!” The secret here is to keep trying different things until you find something you love. I personally love to walk. Getting out in the fresh air helps to clear my mind and allows me to relax and enjoy the experience. I have a friend who loves to ride his bike. Another friend lives to go swimming. Yet another hated and I mean hated
exercising until he discovered martial arts. Another key is to find activities that you can enjoy with others. You may not like plain old walking, but you may enjoy the social aspect of going for a hike with friends.
Perhaps you have kids and tell yourself that you don’t have time to exercise. Here’s a suggestion for you. Two or three times a week, instead of coming home from work to cook dinner, plan ahead a little bit and put dinner in the slow cooker before you go to work. When you get home, take some time and go out in the yard and play with your children. Tag, hopscotch, jumping rope and other childhood games still provide a fun way to get moving and bond with your kids at the same time. Not only will it help you maintain a healthy metabolism, it will provide a stellar example of healthy living that will serve your children well for the rest of their lives as well!
Not finding a form of exercise or movement that we enjoy is a mistake so many of us make. We try to force ourselves to exercise in ways that we hate. We turn exercise into a punishment or a chore instead of embracing it as something that can help us lead healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives.
Another mistake that we make frequently is that we do too much too soon. How many times have you started on a new exercise routine full-tilt only to regress because of aches and pains from over doing? Can we make a promise to ourselves and each other that we will start where we are and increase our exercise routine as we progress?
Another reason diets fail that almost no one talks about is that our mind also plays a role in how our bodies respond. If we constantly tell ourselves, “I’m fat.” Then our bodies begin to believe it and respond accordingly. If we allow others to suggest that we are overweight then our bodies begin to believe that as well. (Yes, advertisers, I am talking about you.) If you are prone to dieting, let me ask you a question. When was the last time you had a kind thought about your own body? Many of us (and probably most of us) focus on what we do NOT like about our body or our appearance. The law of attraction works in this realm too. What ever we focus on grows and that includes the size of our waist or our weight. The key here is to focus on what you DO want. You focus on losing weight…you generally get more weight. Come on, you know that is so often true. If you focus on being thin, it is easier to become thin. So if diets don’t work, and they don’t, here are my keys to what does work.
Eat the same amount of healthy food spread out in smaller snack like meals throughout the day.
Find a form of exercise that you enjoy. Keep looking until you find it. Who knows you might be a great dancer and you don’t even know it!
Switch your focus from losing weight to being thin. See yourself as already being at your ideal weight. Feel that and know that you are on your way! Recognize that extreme physical health is your natural state and allow your mind to take you there. Celebrate the new you today. Don’t wait to achieve a long term goal. If you follow your meal plan just for today celebrate that success. If you exercised celebrate that success as well.
The most important key is to believe in your right to live a long, healthy happy life. Believe in your ability to create complete health as your natural state. I believe in your ability to create the fabulous life you deserve. Now go out and claim it for yourself!