If Diets Don’t Work, What Does?

How many times have you heard “Diets Don’t Work!”. What are your feelings about this? Have they worked for you? Are you frustrated because you don’t know what else to do?  Well, here are the facts:

  • Diets don’t work because each person is unique, with different needs based on gender, age, ancestry and lifestyle; how could one diet be right for everyone?
  • Diets don’t work because they are extreme solutions. As in physics, if a pendulum swings to one extreme, it has to swing equally to the other. A diet might work for a short amount of time, but research shows that almost all diets result in a 10-pound gain once off the diet.
  • Diets don’t work because they are too restrictive. People who fail on diet plans are not flawed or weak. Diets by nature require discipline and restriction at levels that are unsustainable by a healthy human body.

Most people are disconnected from why they gain weight and see diet as the only culprit. For example, ignoring or discounting emotions is often the first thing to cause weight imbalances. In our fast-paced world, we have lost sight of many aspects of life that truly nourish and balance our bodies, such as slowing down, eating a home-cooked meal and spending quality time with loving people. Eating consciously and making simple lifestyle changes will create positive results and release you from the endless cycle of dieting.

Do you know what else doesn’t work? Vigorous exercise. Yes I said exercise doesn’t work if you want to lose weight that is for specifically middle aged overweight women.

According to a New York Times magazine article Weighing the Evidence on Exercise by Gretchen Reynolds, exercise alone will not make you thin and if you are a woman, vigorous exercise actually can stimulate a hormonal response to encourage over eating. You see women’s bodies (as well as some overweight men) are biologically set up to maintain energy stores for reproduction. So after vigorous exercise, the hormones responsible for increasing appetite are released and insulin levels drop so a biological paradigm has been set up to make sure you replace those lost calories for reproduction. Thus our insulin levels drop, our need for sugar greatly increases, so we crave those simple carbs.  We have all seen those same people on the treadmill, elliptical, Stairmaster, etc. sweating and working hard for hours at the gym, right? They always look the same. Never losing any weight despite how hard they work.

So, what to do… Well, the key seems to be losing the weight first by reducing calories by eliminating processed foods, eating whole foods, increasing intake of vegetables and moderately increase activity.  Growing evidence proves low intensity movement such as standing instead of sitting, taking the stairs, fidgeting, walk from the back of the parking lot to the store has a greater effect on weight loss because it doesn’t seem to trigger the “caloric compensation effect”.  Other forms of exercise like Tai Chi, Pilates, Yoga, and even simple stretching can help to burn calories without over taxing the body. So this seems to allow one to be able to stick to a healthy eating plan that includes whole foods, mostly plants and whole grains, with moderate amounts of good lean protein.

To start on the path to losing extra weight for good follow these easy life style changes:

  • practice Mindful Eating by chewing each bite 30 times,
  • eat whole foods, get rid of all processed foods
  • limit to 3 meals per day
  • drink 1 glass of water before you eat
  • make sure you are hungry before you eat
  • listen to your body
  • begin a walking regimen. Start with 10 minutes 3 times a week. Increase the time to 15, 20 then add in another day. Slowly increase to walking every day at least 30 minutes.
  • As you get to your goal weight then increasing the intensity of your workouts actually will do what it is suppose to and that is burn fat immediately after meals, and re-establish the homeostasis between intake and expenditure to secure a lower body weight.

Remember to laugh, counts as low intensity movement too!!) Laughing extremely hard for 15 minutes a day one can burn up to 40 calories. That equals 4 lbs / year!

Darby Melnik, Owner Options in Fitness LLC
ACE CPT, Health Coach, AADP