I was driving home from dropping my youngest daughter off at school one morning and I was listening to a morning show on the radio. It was a new station, but I recognized the people on the show. They have been on the radio for a while here in San Diego. They happened to be talking about losing weight, so instead of changing stations to look for some actual music (which is not an easy thing to find during drive time), I decided to hang tight and listen.
I was inspired, but mostly saddened by the person’s story. This guy had lost over 100 pounds. He did it on Medifast, I think. To lose over 100 pounds is a huge accomplishment and it should be celebrated and applauded! The sad part was that he was putting the weight back on at an alarming rate – this was the sad part. He was talking about how he was going to go back onto the program to lose the weight again.
I was saddened by this is because this is what we all have done (or do). We go on a “diet” and we lose weight, then over time, we gain it all back. Sometimes we even gain more weight than what we started with. The reason his story made me so sad is I can see what is going to happen next. He will go back on the “diet” and then he will lose some weight again, but as soon as he goes off the diet, he is going to gain it all back. This is a vicious cycle that anyone that “diets” is experiencing and they will never get off of the cycle unless they address the root cause.
This is not a bash on Medifast. This is a bash on ALL “diets” and the concept of “dieting” in general. The reason diets DO help you lose weight is because they restrict calories and/or the types of foods that make us fat in the first place. Anyone can lose weight on a “diet”. But losing weight is not what we really want, what we really want to KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF! That is the key and most “diets” do not address this issue.
If your approach to losing weight is a “diet” (does not matter which one) and exercise, then you will never KEEP the weight off (unless you are always on that “diet” and exercise program). Over the long haul, it is not easy (if not impossible) to say on a “diet” indefinitely. Plus, who wants to be on a diet the rest of their life?
Don’t get me wrong here. Proper nutrition and exercise are key, but until you address why your body is forcing you to make more poor choices (and less good ones), you will always be fighting an uphill battle.
It is funny, in my nutrition courses, they taught us about food and how our body processes it and all the biochemical reactions that take place when we eat food. They were very clear on what food is good for our bodies, which ones are bad and why. But they never taught me why my body could not make the right choices or why it was always a struggle to eat the way I ‘should’. This is something I had to learn on my own out in the real world through trial and error on my own body, working with clients, and a lot of self study.
I was on the diet roller coaster for most of my adult life. What I’ve learned is that there are biological reasons for body fat. It does serve a function, but the amount of body fat we carry as a society is not healthy. The reasons our bodies want to carry extra weight are varied and unique to the individual.
These are the steps I take with all my clients now:
1) Nutrition – The very first step is to get your nutrition in order. Add the good & reduce the bad. I was over-fed and under-nourished (most of us are). Start introducing some of the nutrition our bodies are starved for and slowly start flushing the toxins out of the body. As you go through this process, you will need to determine the right nutrition for your body. We are all different and there is no one size fits all nutrition plan. By getting rid of the bad stuff and adding the good stuff, you can start listening to your body and begin to determine what is right for you.
2) Education – The more you know about food & nutrition and how it works in your body, the easier it is for you to make different decisions. The more I can fill my clients’ heads with nutrition information, the better equipped they will be to make the better choices. This really is a critical piece that is often left out.
3) Stress & Mindset – Understanding why our bodies want to be fat and why we make certain decisions (in regards to food and exercise) is the first step in permanent weight loss. This is a trickier one to nail down. It could be stress, dehydration, nutrient deficiency, childhood trauma, toxins, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, medications…the list goes on and on. As you can see, this will take some investigation, but once you find out what the cause is, it could mean the end of a life-long struggle with weight (like I had).
4) Reprogramming – Once you understand why your body wants to be fat and how it drives you to be fat, then you can work with your body to reprogram yourself to naturally and effortlessly make the healthiest choices for your body that will help you maintain the lean body you desire. This is the cornerstone – to obtain permanent weight loss, the reprogramming of old habits and the creation of new ones is critical. Reprogramming is not imagining that your chocolate frozen yogurt is a pile of dog dung (although that does work for some people). It is more about using your knowledge of food and nutrition to understand your cravings and then reprogram your cravings so you crave the good things more and the bad things less.
5) Exercise – For weight loss, exercise is about 20% of the equation. 80% of your efforts should revolve around what you put in your mouth. Having said that, there is a certain type of exercise that does help you lose weight – it is NOT hours on the treadmill. (If your goal is weight loss that kind of exercise is a waste of your time.) Interval training is key to any weight loss program. There’s a reason for this that I can explain in a future article. The important thing to remember is that exercise is important for health and will help with overall weight loss, but NOT because of “burning calories”. If “burning calories” is your reason for exercising, then you are fighting an uphill battle that you will lose over the long haul.
Once you start feeding your body nutrients dense foods, flush out the bad things, understand (at the core of your being) how food works in your body, understand why your body wants to store fat, how it drives you to store fat, you can then work with your body to reprogram yourself to eat what you want, always be satisfied, healthy, sleep great, and have a ton of energy. But most important, you will be once and for all be off the “diet” roller coaster.
To find out more about how I made this change you can read my story here. Make this the year you lose the weight once and for all.