Tag Archives: diets

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 2 – The Dangers of Dieting

(This is part 2 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

You know what? I don’t like diets. They are highly ineffective for long-term weight loss, yet one in four people start a new diet every year. Of these people, only 20% of them will succeed at losing weight and keeping it off. But what about the other 80 percent? Do they just stay at the same weight? Nope. The majority of them actually lose a little bit of weight at the beginning. Then, they not only regain their weight, they end up gaining even more weight than when they started. So why do the majority of people gain weight when they diet? The answer is quite simple – muscle loss.

The Wrong Path

When we talk about diets, we’re talking about any temporary change to your eating patterns. The idea of “going on a diet” infers that you’ll be returning to your old eating habits once you’re done. What does the anatomy of a diet look like:

  • low calories
  • reduced energy and intensity in the gym
  • fewer nutrients due to fewer calories
  • quick (but short-lived) weight loss
  • slowed metabolism
  • increased cravings

All of these things create the perfect storm for muscle loss. They also create a spring-loaded rebound effect once you start eating “normal” again. Even losing just 5 pounds of lean body mass can slow your metabolism enough that your old calorie intake is now too much. Combine that with a slowed metabolism from hormone down-regulation and add in some binge eating behavior, and you have a perfect recipe for weight gain.
Each time you diet again you dig yourself deeper into a hole. This is the main reason why people diet their entire lives yet continue to gain weight. If you want to stop the cycle you have to put the diet mentality behind you. Focus your efforts on creating healthy eating habits.

Time Works Against You

Diets all have end dates. They last for 4, 8, or maybe 12 weeks and then they’re over. What then? Do you have any idea how to eat once your diet is over? Most likely, you will be returning to old eating habits and then starting all over again months down the road once your weight creeps back up. We want time on our side. When we stick an artificial end date in the future, time crawls to a still. Compare that to a lifestyle change where there is no end date. You might think that the short time period of a diet makes things easier, but this is a common illusion. We want to lift the burden of time. We don’t want to think about it at all. We want to move beyond the day to day intricacies of eating, and instead make our eating habits second nature. Once we do that, we’re just eating. Weight loss goes on autopilot and becomes an involuntary side effect. When you’re not always thinking about your next meal or your next cheat meal break, you can distract yourself from the weight loss process. You put more trust into healthy eating and believe that your healthy habits will take you to where you want to go. Your thinking goes from “if I can just make it the next 2 months eating this way” to “I’m just eating, and 2 months is going to pass one way or another”.

They Don’t Hold You Accountable

Diets give us something to blame when we don’t get results. It’s easy to say a particular diet didn’t work for you. Rationalizing your failure by passing the blame to an inanimate object is the natural thing to do. But was it really the diet that was to blame? Because we never learned along the way about our own relationship with food, and about what works for our individual metabolism, we end up placing all of our faith in our diet. When that diet doesn’t work, it’s on to trying the next one. We must hold ourselves accountable for our actions if we want to succeed. You can’t reach your weight loss goals until you accept complete responsibility for your current lifestyle habits. You are in complete control of your life. That doesn’t mean there won’t be difficult circumstances, but how we choose to react to those situations will determine our ultimate outcome. Weight loss is not a straight and narrow line from beginning to end. There will be a lot of detours. You will need to learn how to react in those moments, and diets won’t show you how. One of the biggest dieting fallacies is that there’s a blueprint you can follow for success. There isn’t.

They Teach You Very Little About Yourself

While diets will teach you what to do, they teach you very little about why you’re doing it. Learning the why’s behind your actions are what create sustainable long-term weight loss. Blindly following a diet or meal plan might seem easier, but no diet goes 100% as planned. If you don’t take the time to understand the purpose behind what you’re doing, you will be easily discouraged when times get tough. When losing weight you spend a lot of time in uncharted territory. You have to make tough decisions on whether you should increase or decrease calories, how many meals you should eat, whether cheat meals are OK, how to recover from a slip up, protein and carbohydrate adjustments, and 100 more unique circumstances. Diets won’t teach you how to navigate off the beaten path, and that’s where success is ultimately determined. If you want long-term sustainable weight loss, you must start educating yourself on the details of a healthy lifestyle.

Say goodbye to your dieting mentality. Stop searching for the next diet to try. Chances are it hasn’t worked out for you so far, and it’s highly unlikely anything will change that outcome in the future. Instead, work daily at creating new healthy habits that will build the foundation for long-term weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise

Why Your Diet Doesn’t Work…..AGAIN

Currently in the U.S. it is estimated that 66% of the population is on a diet; more than 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese; the weight loss industry is $66.3 billion industry. What gives? We seem so entrenched in an activity that should yield a ton of result yet the numbers continue to grow in the wrong direction. Do we really have any idea about what to do or are we just clinging on to the hope that this too shall pass? Let’s examine this.

Diets Don’t Work

It’s almost cliché now but whenever the discussion revolves around going on a diet someone will unequivocally say don’t waste your time – diets don’t work! Yet billions of dollars are spent on books and programs each year defiant to that statement. Truth be told, diets don’t work. They’re not even programmed to do so. They’re designed around some sort of gimmick that will initially cause a positive change, whether it be dismissing a food group, a component of a food group, or particular items that are somehow the demise of our plight. They’re “endorsed” by celebrity doctors, lab rats, or anyone else they can make to look or sound convincing. Beyond that, there isn’t a morsel of truth to what they promise or deliver. But…

Diets Do Work

Yes they can and will. IF you find one you like; IF you can follow them for all eternity; IF they become your lifestyle; IF you throw all intuition and knowledge out the window. They will work and serve you well until any or all of the aforementioned takes a turn in the other direction. Hopping from diet to diet doesn’t count and often times is why people fail so much. They’re not livable, repeatable, or palatable long term. But find one that meets all that criteria and your home free. There’s nothing magical about them except….

The Joke is On You

Dietary success is strictly due to control of caloric (energy) intake. That’s it. There’s no magical combination of nutrients; no special bundle of macronutrient uptake; no magic timing of nutrient uptake, etc. It’s as simple as calories in vs calories out. Take in more than your body can assimilate over time and you will gain weight. Successful management of what you take in over time and you will have better control over what you gain. Most if not everyone has no idea just how many calories it takes to run them. Yet they’re easily willing to cut calories because eating less must be better, right? Wrong! Cutting calories with no idea what the numbers even mean is like throwing darts with a blindfold. You’ll be lucky to hit the target. It’s arbitrary and while some might have success many will not and the cycle of dieting, not dieting begins which is the real problem here. Rather than blame or hate on a diet, take charge of yourself by doing the following:

Determine your BMR (basal metabolic rate). You’ll be getting a rough estimate but it’s a place to start.
• Track for about a week everything you put past your lips. You can use online services such as My Fitness Pal or LoseIt to track and record.
• Once you can determine how much you take in or don’t, develop a long term plan with mini goalposts along the way.
• Make small, subtle changes initially. This isn’t a race. This is more like a marathon. You’re in for the long haul so find what’s manageable and sustainable first with minimal effort.
• Incorporating exercise is a no-brainer but I can’t recommend enough that you include some sort of resistance training. Just as with the nutrition, start small and see what you’re able to tolerate initially.
• Hit cruise and go. Anything worthwhile is worth doing correctly. Diets promise quick fixes to long term problems. Slow it all down and realize it’s all within your control. It just takes a dedicated focus but one that will reap greater rewards.

 

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

 

Why You’re Not Losing Weight

fat-loss-frustrationIt’s a New Year (just a little over a week now) and health clubs and diet programs see their biggest surge of new customers in the next few weeks. Intentions are good, expectations are high, and enthusiasm is at its peak…for at least a few weeks anyway. While millions will be focusing on what they need to NOT eat and trying to cram a lifetime of exercise in three weeks, I’m going to take a different approach and discuss why they will all fail at the goal of losing weight.  Now I’m generally not one to take the negative side of things but I am a believer in relaying the truth and when it comes to weight loss, most are not willing to accept or acknowledge the truth.  After all, the truth is generally hard to take and even harder to apply.  So here goes.

  • You’ve fallen prey (again) to a diet program that promises to be the “one”. Simply put, diets DO NOT WORK…unless it meets 3 criteria.  It must be livable, palatable, and repeatable daily. Forget the life you’ve known; it has to end or the diet fails. If you’re wiling to accept that, good luck.
  • You make nutritional decisions based on “popular” media or trends.  Whatever your favorite actor/actress is doing, it does not apply to you. Popular shows like The Biggest Loser do not provide a realistic approach that is livable and maintainable. Don’t be a loser; be a gainer of sounder nutritional knowledge.
  • You sit…A LOT. Sitting is bad for us. Period. No matter how good or great you think you eat, sitting slows down the digestion thus enhancing the storage of energy (i.e. fat).
  • You believe that 100 calorie packs are healthy choices. If you’re consuming 100 calorie packs as a snack, you clearly know nothing about nutrition. 100 calorie snacks say “100 calories of crap is better than 300 calories of crap.” It’s STILL crap!
  • You skip or rarely eat breakfast. This can’t be emphasized enough.  An engine with fuel runs better than one that sputters all day because it wasn’t fueled properly.
  • You dine “out” more than you eat “in”. Regardless of what the “healthy” menu lists, you didn’t cook it, therefore you had no control over how it was truly prepared. (I will share with you that I’ve worked in two restaurants.)
  • You falsely believe in the power of diet soda.  Sugar free doesn’t mean chemical free and calorie free doesn’t mean water.  Plenty of research has shown that diet soda literally tricks the body that it is getting sugar, thus creating a great urge for sugar because that need is not met.
  • You rely on frozen, packaged meals like Lean Cuisine.  It’s not food.  It’s preserved packaged, convenience. I often wonder what caveman’s microwave meal might have looked like.
  • You eat more packaged, processed food than real food. Are your cupboards more stocked than your fridge? Real food has a short shelf life. Cupboard food can essentially last for years. Yummy.
  • You starve your metabolism. Skipping meals and not eating does more to wreck you ability to burn calories.  Starve your body and it will come back to haunt you. (Just ask the chronic, yo-yo dieter)
  • You eat bars for meals. Would you eat a candy bar for dinner?  There’s not much difference.
  • You exercise minimally if at all and inconsistently. You can not hope that just watching what you eat is all you have to do.  You have to have a concern that we were born and are dependent on movement.
  • You don’t plan for obstacles and make excuses for failures. Excuses are nothing more than admittance of failures. Plan to avoid them period!
  • You don’t work at it daily. Success is not something you gain by doing some good things here, some good things there. It requires a dedication to doing little things daily. (See the 2012 Fitness Challenge)
  • You buy products based on the marketing, not their true nutritional value. Organic, heart healthy, low fat, etc. are all terms presented to get you to buy more.  You need to learn to read labels.
  • You workout, only to sabotage your efforts with crap food or “smoothie”. “I worked out so now I can indulge.” Nothing like replacing sugar burned with more sugar. Sort of defeats the purpose.
  • You have no concern for building muscle. That doesn’t mean you need to be a bodybuilder. You need to strengthen the body and decrease the damage to muscle tissue loss, caused by aging and lack of solid nutrition.

Perhaps you’re guilty of a few of these (hopefully not all of them) but I assure you, any one of them can be the reason why you’re not losing weight.  Weight loss, or more specifically fat loss, is more than just counting points, cutting calories, and moving more.  It’s an understanding that the body needs fuel, it needs to move, and most importantly, it needs to survive.  Anything to the contrary and the body will do what it can despite your best efforts.

My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 1,000 push ups done as of publishing time.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2011 – Day 10: Not All Carbs Are Created Equal

carbs(This is Part 10 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful fitness tips over the holiday season)

In the 80s the word “fat” scared people right away from their French fries.  In the 90s, the mere mention of a “carb” scared them, well, right away from their French fries again. Apparently, those who didn’t get the memo back in the eighties about fat got the message a decade later with a new name. Now if that all sounds ridiculous – it is! But nothing is more comical to me than listening to someone who has no sound knowledge of nutrition (except for what they learned on Oprah or from the latest diet book) and hear them tell others all they know about carbs and how bad they are. Yet when asked what they eat, there’s a carb at nearly every meal. Why is this so? Because popular knowledge and scientific knowledge are usually worlds apart.

Know The Difference

First, you have to understand that despite what you may have heard or thought, carbohydrates are good for you.  Most of them anyway. Like fats, it is unfair to categorize ALL carbohydrates as bad.  At a basic level, carbs can be broken into two primary categories: refined and whole, or natural.  Whole carbohydrates are those that are eaten close to how they grow in nature: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, etc. Refined carbs are food items where everything in the food is taken away: the vitamins, minerals, and most importantly the fiber, leaving behind only the starch and sugar. With refined carbohydrates, all that was once good about the carb is now gone. Doesn’t sound good, does it?  It’s not.

A Bad Neighborhood

When eaten, refined carbohydrates give your body a quick boost in glucose (a.k.a. sugar), which can be helpful right before you get started in some sort of athletic endeavor, such as a sprint or a soccer game. However, eating refined carbohydrates on a regular basis, regardless of what you’re doing afterward, can leave you with a rather useless store of carbs. It’s like dumping sugar right into your blood stream and no one is recommending that as a good idea. All you need to know is how to identify refined carbs. Most often, refined carbs are white on their own, but they can hide inside various foods without being recognized. A few common foods that are labeled refined carbohydrates: white bread, white rice, foods ending with the word “starch”, foods that use puffy or shredded grains, etc.

A Better Choice

Since refined carbohydrates aren’t doing your body much good, you ought to do your best to go for whole, natural carbs. Whether you call them good carbs or all-natural carbs doesn’t matter.  What matters is that the “good” carbs have not been stripped of their fiber. Fiber is helpful for good bowel health; avoiding diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and kidney stones; and obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight. So when referring to eating carbs focus on foods that contain fiber-rich carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Bottom line is, you need carbs, just more of the good and less of the bad. So then the next question is usually, “How do explain weight loss following a low carb diet?”

Why No-Carb Diets Work

If you’ve ever gotten into a diet that cuts you off from all carbohydrates, you probably lost some weight. If you’re supposed to need carbs, why did you have such great weight loss success when you cut them from your diet? There are three reasons.

  1. Cutting carbohydrates from your diet often results in a loss of water weight, as not eating carbs may cause you to urinate more frequently and with greater volume.
  2. Any diet that forces you to avoid one sort of food altogether will result in eating fewer calories. While this is a good thing at first, it’s healthier to trim calories from all the food groups instead of picking on carbohydrates only.
  3. Diets that trim carbohydrates do not trim protein or fat, which both cause you to feel full faster and longer, reducing your desire to eat.

Don’t pass on the holiday cookie; just fill up at the veggie tray first.

See you tomorrow for Day 11 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

12 Days of Fitness Truth 2010: Simple Rules For Eating Healthy – Day 3

simple-eating-healthy-habitsEvery year, particularly this time of year, someone comes out with some breakthrough eating plan to end all diets and nutrition scams forever. Don’t eat this; don’t eat that; eat only before a certain time; eat only after a certain time; eat while standing on your head. OK.  I made that one up.  The point is, they’re all laughable to the point where anyone can come up with some gimmick of there own; which in most cases is exactly what happens.  A gimmick, not a diet, is introduced and it becomes hot for a while until people realize it doesn’t work and worse yet, discover they’re heavier than before they even started.

It’s Not Easy, But Not as Hard as its Made Out to Be Either

First, you need to come to the realization that food science and marketing in recent decades has taken over all of the REAL food out of our grocery stores to the point that at LEAST 90% of everything in a modern-day grocery store is NOT true food anymore. As nutritionist Michael Pollan calls it, “Edible Food-Like Substances”, is what the so-called “food” that lines our grocery store shelves should be more appropriately named. Our food supply has become so overly processed, that it’s not uncommon for a simple snack food to contain a list of 20-30 ingredients of additives, chemicals, flavorings, colorings, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial sweeteners, and more.  The good news – it can all be easily avoided by adhering to three simple principles.

Three Simple Steps

  1. Eat only foods that are 1 ingredient. Simple. This means sticking almost solely to these:  eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts, and meats.
  2. If it comes in a box and you left it out for 6 months, would it still look the same? If so, that’s something you should seriously think about eating less.
  3. If you can’t identify more than half of the ingredients on the box (because I know there are those who will still insist on eating convenient, not nutritious packaged items), you should think twice about putting that into your body. Would you knowingly injest butylated hydroxyanisole without knowing what it is?  Chances are, you probably already do.

Remember, marketing and science are farther apart than they ever were when it comes to nutrition.  Marketing sells product; science dictates health.  You decide.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness Truth.

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

grotesqueTo quote one of the most famous lines in cinema from one of my most favorite movies of all time, A Few Good Men, sometimes in our quest for answers we often ignore the fact that we simply can not accept, or handle, the truth.  In the scene from the movie, Marine Colonel Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson, blasts a determined prosecutor Lt. Kaffee played by Tom Cruise while on the witness stand, claiming that the truth he seeks is not as plain as black or white.  Understanding, or rather accepting the truth is something that is not always so easy to do. As is sometimes said, the truth hurts.  However, the reality is the truth will often do more good for you than a sugar coated, feel good explanation.

How many times have you asked a question already knowing that the answer was one that was true but not necessarily the one you wanted to hear? How did that make you feel? Now imagine for a moment that everything you once thought to be true was exactly the complete opposite.  In terms of our knowledge of exercise and nutrition, the latter certainly rings true more times than not.

Everyday is seems, another research report says you should limit your intake of this, you shouldn’t eat that, you should exercise for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, etc. It can all be very confusing.  As a nation, we are clearly not accepting the truth.  The truth that we are getting fatter than ever; the truth that we are the sickest nation in the world; the truth that we simply eat way too much and don’t move enough.  It couldn’t be more evident, yet we kid ourselves and hold false hope that this time we will stick to our diet or that one day it can all be erased by simply taking a pill or worse yet, have a surgery performed to “fix“ the problem. Consider that 90% of Americans consume an average of 100 more calories a day than they did a decade ago.  After one month, it is not unreasonable for a person to put on one pound of body fat in just over a month (3,500 calories = 1 pound of body fat). Consider that only 10-15% of the American public that exercises on a regular basis is doing so only 2-3 days per week!  Consider that with the over three hundred registered diet programs and books available to the public, that 64% of the population is obese!

Bottom line: whatever we are doing is not working. Why?  Because we fail to accept the truth that Mother Nature always wins and our bodies have merely adjusted to our surroundings, or more specifically the lifestyles that we lead.  In our constant quest for advanced technology and simplifying life, we have become completely ignorant to the fact that the greatest piece of technology on this Earth is the one we take the least care of – our bodies.  And when things start to break down or not work as good as they used to, we look towards erasing bad habits simply by embracing new ones.

People begin or at least think about exercising everyday.  Diet books continue to fly off of shelves.  What people fail to adopt every time this scenario happens is that a healthy lifestyle, one that exercise and eating right are only a small part of, is the only way to go.  Exercise and eating right are not bandages or quick fixes, which is generally the way most view them.  Consequently, those who live an unhealthy lifestyle have success that is just as poor as the effort they put towards it.

Being fit and healthy does take work, but it is more the result of a consummate approach to living a fit and healthy lifestyle.  Many will say they already know that, but it is clearly not so apparent by evidence of the state of our nation’s health.  So without making things sound so nice and sweet, here’s some truth you must hear to steer yourself straight.

  • Exercising three days a week is not going to cut it.  Moderate exercise in some form everyday would be more beneficial.  When your body is tired, it will tell you, and then you better rest.
  • No diet ever works! It’s not about cutting things out or eliminating food groups. It’s about portion control and eating things in moderation.
  • Diet food items, beverages, snacks, etc. are all junk.  They mislead you to believe that because they are “diet” that they are better for you.
  • Rome was not built in a day and neither was your physique. The cumulative effect of making bad choices is what you see.
  • You are not a victim of your metabolism.  In most cases, you have created it.  Likewise, you are not a prisoner of your genes.  How you fill the mold is dependent solely on you.

Accept the truth that if you are in the same position you were in this time last year, last month, or last week, now is the time to take charge and make a change.

Featured in September 2006 Issue of 422 Business Advisor