Tea cleanses, miracle pills, shakes, oh my! The media is swarming with advertisements imposing on anyone with weight loss New Year’s resolutions. In all honesty, I don’t blame someone who falls for one of these gimmicks. From taking a number of weight loss pills to talking my parents into buying me at-home Ab Crunch machines, I’m guilty of it myself! These companies play a good game. For someone who already feels stressed out about weight gain, the exclamation points, titles in cool fonts, before and after photos, and celebrity endorsements, create an even more demanding sense of urgency to slim down.
Whether you’ve never tried to lose weight or have tried everything in the books, dropping lbs can be frustrating and confusing. It’s easy to fall for weight loss gimmicks when you already feel unsure about where to start. It can be even harder to determine what weight loss strategies are hurtful and which are helpful. So how do you decipher the fitness hype from the help?
Here are 5 simple tips I use:
1. Does it claim quick results?
Weight loss, real, lasting weight loss does not happen overnight. If it did, there wouldn’t be an obesity epidemic in our country. Losing more than 1 to 2 pounds per week is usually indication of muscle and water loss, not fat loss. This puts your metabolism in jeopardy and makes it much more likely for you to gain back what you did lose or maybe even more.
2. Do you have to order special meals or replace meals with food product?
Whatever you do to lose the weight is what you must continue to keep it off. Does slurping meal replacement shakes or eating pre-made diet food for the rest of your life sound good? I didn’t think so. Successful weight loss comes from creating new, healthier habits. Learning how to eat in the real world, i.e. cooking for yourself, ordering more responsibly at restaurants, is the most important part of long-term success.
3. Does it sound too good to be true?
Unfortunately, there is no magic-bullet pill, powder, or drink that leads to dropping fat. Think about it, if there was one thing that really did help EVERYONE lose weight AND keep it off, there wouldn’t be customers to support a multi-billion dollar diet industry. If you could drink a special tea, sprinkle magic powder on your food, or take a miracle pill, don’t you think we’d all have the svelte, fit physique we work so hard for everyday by now?
4. Does it include a well-rounded training regimen?
Yes, you can lose weight without exercise. However, if you are just dieting and not working out, you’re missing out on insane health benefits. Yes, exercise increases energy levels, reduces risk of heart and other chronic disease, decreases insulin sensitivity, and improves bone density and posture. But did you know it changes the your RMR, or your resting metabolic rate? Yup, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn while sitting on the couch watching Gilmore Girls. That’s because muscle uses more energy (aka calories) than fat. This is vital for maintaining weight loss. Why? Because naturally, our body burns LESS calories the LESS we eat and the SMALLER we get. We are tricky creatures who crave homeostasis. Our bodies will hinder weight loss because in history, losing body fat meant famine, sickness, and, if it didn’t stop, death. Lucky for us ladies, we also fight our body’s natural desire to keep on weight to bare children! By increasing our muscle mass (aka raising our RMR) we can combat this.
5. Is it a “one-size-fits-all” plan?
There are basic principles of eating that every body type can benefit from such as “eat more whole, natural food,” “limit processed food,” “cut back on sugar and saturated fat,” “eat until you’re 80% full.” However, these basic nutritional tips only take you so far. Each of our bodies has a different response to the food we put into it. We all have that friend who seems like she can eat whatever she wants without gaining a pound. Or a significant other who seems to lose weight the more he eats. Each of us have unique genetics, metabolisms, insulin responses, and so forth. So why would we think one type of eating is going to magically work for all of us?
Health and happiness,