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Stop Dieting!

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There have been a number of articles in the media recently quoting a recent study, or I should say, “meta-analysis” concluding that most people who lose weight, gain it all back. I’m not sure why such a “meta-analysis” is getting so much visibility, except perhaps to make the more invasive surgical option look more appealing. Although certainly, gaining back the same weight over and over again is a common problem, many people have lost weight and maintained a healthy body weight and composition permanently. The problem as I see it is most programs focus on the weight-loss portion of the equation. In fact, many diets typically focus on the losing, not the maintaining.

Ironically, the first step to successful weight loss (and that means keeping the excess weight off) is to stop dieting! That’s right. Stop dieting. The first clue you have as to whether or not you’ll maintain the weight loss is to ask yourself, “Can I eat this way the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, then you simply will not maintain the weight-loss. A successful program is an eating plan that promotes all aspects of health, and is something you can see yourself doing forever. Now, of course, the level of strictness changes when we move from active weight- loss to maintaining, but the food plan should be basically the same. So if you are on a diet that’s all about how quickly you can drop weight, and you can’t imagine eating this way forever, then stop right now. Why? Because yo-yo dieting, cycles of losing and gaining, just makes the problem worse —much worse!

In fact, every time we lose weight, even if we do so slowly, we lose some muscle with the fat loss. But when we gain it back, we gain back 100% fat. That means that at the same number of pounds on the scale, we are continually raising our body fat content with each cycle. So for example, the initial 180 pounds may have represented 36% body fat, but each time weight is lost and gained, the percentage of body fat at the same 180 pounds is going up. What does that mean? It means it gets harder and harder to lose it. Our metabolic rate goes down as body fat percentage goes up. The metabolic rate is the amount of calories we burn as we go about doing our daily activities. Another way of looking at this is that the fatter we get, the less calories we need to maintain our body weight. Can you see the cruel and vicious cycle that gets created?

Again, I want to say, many people have maintained their weight loss success for years, and forever. But there are certain principles that insure that success. There are a number of proven tips and techniques that help make the “keeping it off” much more successful. It turns out it’s all about that metabolic rate I mentioned. Keeping the metabolic rate up, that is, our calorie and fat-burning mechanisms, is the key to long-term success. Here are just a few of those tips:

  1. Number One has to be aerobic exercise. Regular exercise, best if it’s daily, is a must for maintaining weight loss. It has to be a life-long commitment.
  2. Don’t skip meals, and start with a good breakfast.
  3. Lose weight slowly to protect muscle mass and metabolic rate. And, working a program longer, over time, gives us the tools for moderating ourselves in the maintenance program.
  4. Drinking water helps boost metabolic rate, while alcohol reduces it.
  5. Extremely low-calorie diets do just that — teach your body to survive on a very small amount of calories — ugh! (Think evolution over eons here)
  6. Weight-training, in addition to aerobic exercise is a metabolism booster.
  7. Sleep deprivation lowers metabolic rate. And, by the way increases appetite. 45 % of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. Could this be working against you?
  8. Certain vitamins and adequate protein consumption are metabolism boosters.
  9. Keeping it off means always watching what you eat even after reaching your goals. Become friendly with the scale and stay aware.
  10. Remember, as appealing as the latest diet fad may sound, don’t listen! Such diets are generally unhealthy and ultimately demoralizing.

If you are having trouble losing weight, or maintaining weight loss, there are a number of clues we could look for. Certain blood tests can give us information about how well your body processes carbohydrates, or whether you have” false-fat”, that is, toxic build-up or inflammation that can interfere with weight loss. Thyroid dysfunction, or a sluggish thyroid, exhausted adrenal glands, poor digestion or food allergies are just some of the many causes that may be challenging you. I can help you decipher where the challenge may be and how to address it. Regardless of what the newspapers say, there are many people walking around that have made it happen and are continuing to be successful.