An interesting discussion this week exposed some common weight loss myths. We all think we know, but sometimes what we’ve been led to believe might not match the facts.
Here are some of the points brought up in the discussion.
- If I eat less and exercise more I’ll lose weight.
This might work for some, but in general exercise makes people hungry – not always immediately. If you’re hungry and eating less food, what happens? You tend to get cranky or “hangry” until you finally give up and eat whatever is available. Obviously, this is not a recipe for weight loss success.
- Increasing exercise will make me lose weight.
This might work for some, but think about this. Let’s say you have 10kg to lose. Each kilogram of fat contains about 7,700 calories, or enough energy to walk for about 32 hours without stopping – and without eating. In the busy lifestyles we all lead, finding an hour each day is almost impossible, so being able to exercise off this much fat would take an extremely long time. This would also presume that the foods you chose were not replenishing any of the energy you burned. Unlikely.
- I know what I should be eating.
Years of advice to eat less fat coincides with the population getting fatter. Is it a conundrum, or is the advice wrong for most people?
- I’ll just go back to the strategy that worked for me before.
When lifestyle collides with changing hormones, it’s may be that what used to work might not any more. Perhaps just small tweaks are required, perhaps a major overhaul.
- There is a perfect diet, if only I could find it.
The truth is that there is no single diet that suits everyone. Just as we all look different to each other, inside our bodies we’re all different. Our tastes and preferences and the responses our bodies have to different foods and different amounts and types of exercise are individual. It’s not a matter of finding the perfect diet, or of following the exact diet that your favourite Instagram expert suggests. It is a matter of finding a sensible eating pattern based on real foods, and then adapting it to suit the responses of your body.
- There are good foods and bad foods.
True and false. Food is just food, not good or bad or anything in between. The way your body reacts to a particular food, however, might be good or bad. Some foods make you feel healthy and well while others don’t. Some foods with help you in reaching your goals while others won’t. Finding out the foods which are good for your body, along with those that are bad for your body, is important.
- I just don’t have the willpower to lose weight.
We all have a limited supply of willpower. When we’re well-rested and not stressed, willpower is easy. If not, or if we’re not seeing results happen as quickly as we’d like, willpower diminishes. Eventually it gets to the point where we give up, so instead of relying on willpower it’s essential to gain the skills and habits that help you through the times when willpower is low.
- Diet = hunger and cravings.
This is true if following old diet advice of eat less and exercise more. It doesn’t have to be true, though. It is possible to losing weight following an eating plan that helps you avoid hunger and cravings.
- My partner makes me eat the wrong foods.
This one sounds like avoidance of responsibility, but the reality is that we are all influenced by the behaviours of those around us. Whether it’s your partner, your social group of friends, or your healthy-eating sister, if you spend time with any of these people you’ll be influenced. The interesting thing is that the same holds true for them: you can influence them.
- I’ve tried everything and nothing has worked.
People usually report all the different things they’ve tried to lose weight. The common feature is that they only try one thing at a time. Of course this makes sense: mixing the ‘rules’ of different strategies is doomed, but looking after diet without considering exercise and other lifestyle factors is not a recipe for success.
If you’ve found the strategy that helps you lose and/or maintain the weight you want, stick with it. That’s great. If not, come and talk to us. We can help.