Copyright © Donovan Baldwin
Anything that I write on the subject of weight loss has GOT to include facts. Not supposition. Not opinion. Not argument. Not pie-in-the sky. None of that. I said “facts”, and I am talking about proven facts on the subject of diets and weight loss.
Fact #1: Diets are not a permanent weight loss solution.
Fact #2: Even a “good” diet is usually mis-handled. (Okay, one opinion.)
Fact #3: You won’t get there without exercise.
Fact #4: In place of a “diet” you need to substitute good nutrition.
Fact #5: Almost everything else is a helper or a hindrance.
Fact #6: You need your own weight loss program, not somebody else’s.
A DIET IS NOT A PERMANENT WEIGHT LOSS SOLUTION
It is well documented that dieting, that is removing certain things from you normal list of foods you eat or eating only certain foods, does not work as a permanent weight loss solution. The explanation of this could be the subject of a book itself, but to make it short, you get bored, it’s hard to stay on the diet, dieting produces changes in your body that encourage weight gain, you lose energy, it just isn’t fun and so on. Pick any diet you want. Are you prepared to spend the rest of your life eating that way? Probably not. The only real solution to a lifetime problem is a change in lifestyle and behavior.
DIETS ARE COMMONLY MISUNDERSTOOD AND MISHANDLED
Here’s a classic example: The Atkins diet! Ask almost anybody you know what the Atkins diet is, and they will say it’s a diet that lets you eat lots of things like steak, bacon…you know, the fun stuff, without worrying about those nasty old veggies and carbohydrates. That’s why it’s called “low carbohydrate”, right? Shows how far most people read. A few pages into the Atkins diet plan, you learn that eating like that is only supposed to be done for about the first two weeks, to shift your body into the proper mode for the next three phases. In each of those phases, Dr. Atkins actually instructed people to begin adding certain foods, including carbohydrates, back in because it is not healthy to remain on a straight diet of chicken-fried steak or whatever for the rest of your life.
Just to drive the point home, I have a friend who went on the Atkins diet over two years ago. After a couple of years, he was still eating from the list of foods that were recommended for the first two weeks! He lost weight at first, he’s gaining it back now, and then some, and has no idea why the Atkins diet doesn’t work any more.
It’s interesting to note that the Atkins diet, and almost any other weight loss program, diet drink, diet pill, fitness coach, you name it, includes exercise as being important to their product being effective.
YOU HAVE GOT TO EXERCISE FOR WEIGHT LOSS
In fact, many people could lose most of the weight they need to lose just by getting into the right exercise program and staying with it! That’s half the problem. Our bodies are designed by Mother Nature to DO THINGS! Clicking the remote doesn’t count. Again, this topic is broader than the scope of this article, but the facts are that if you want to improve your overall health, defeat or at least delay dozens of mental and physical conditions, get more enjoyment out of life, live longer, live better, AND lose weight, you need to exercise.
The basic rule of weight loss and weight gain is that if you eat more calories than you burn you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you burn, you lose weight. That simple.
For most people it really seems simple. If they eat less, they will lose weight!
IN PLACE OF A DIET YOU NEED TO SUBSTITUTE GOOD NUTRITION
As pointed out above, simply cutting foods out of your diet is not the answer. However, the solution is simple – just eat sensibly. Nobody ever said you can’t eat chocolate cake, just that you shouldn’t eat two or three pieces a day, and the piece you DO eat should be a normal size. We all have at least a vague idea of what foods we SHOULD be eating, and we have a good idea of what we shouldn’t be eating, or at least eating a lot of. This is an active process. Most people drive up to the window and say, “Give me your 99 cent greaseburger and a cup of water with sugar.” When asked if they want to “supersize” it, they agree. Even the good restaurants serve a lot more food than it is healthy to eat, but most people go ahead and eat it anyway because they have no idea of how much they should be eating, because it tastes so good, or because they were taught to clean their plates.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE FRILLS
You see a lot of diet and weight loss products that claim that they have found THE SOLUTION to your weight loss problem. Hardly anybody gets overfat (Arnold Schwarzenegger is “overweight”) because of one single thing. Mostly, it will occur over a period of time because of a combination of factors. While nutrition and exercise are two of the absolute MOST important factors, simply changing one without the other doesn’t work as well as putting both into action. Little things like an electric exercise belt, a pill made out of grapefruit, or a secret drink from Tahiti might help your weight loss program, but if you aren’t already doing the two most important things, don’t expect to see much in the way of results. That’s why so many of these diet and weight loss products have a remark on the label that says something like “…when used in conjunction with a proper diet and regular exercise.”
There is good scientific evidence that things like cortisol and caffeine can influence weight gain and weight loss, for example, but if you were to try to control your weight over a lifetime by controlling these factors, you probably would not notice any real results. If, however, you were to begin eating sensibly and getting more exercise, taking cortisol blockers or cutting caffeine out of your diet MIGHT contribute a few extra pounds of weight loss, but it is weight you will probably lose eventually if you stay on your weight loss program.
YOUR WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM, THAT’S THE GOAL
You are not your brother, your sister, or your mother no matter how closely you are tied to them genetically. What works for one of them might not be what you need. While there is scientific fact to back up the exercise equations outlined above each person is going to react in their own unique way. You need to exercise, but maybe not as much as your friend. You need to eat less chocolate ice cream, but maybe you can’t eat as much as your friend does. You need to make any weight loss program work for you by designing it around you. Do the exercises you like to do, just make sure you are doing enough. What’s enough? Well, you will have to experiment and see. Eat the foods you like, just eat them in sensible quantities and eat primarily foods that have a lot of real nutrition in them. What foods? Again, you will have to find your way, probably by trial and error, although there are many excellent books to give you guidance.
Speaking of goals, your goal is to be healthy and happy. Wanting to weigh a given weight because somebody else weighs that amount is senseless. You shouldn’t even be trying to weigh what you weighed in high school, because, physically speaking, that was a different person. He or she was someone with a different metabolism, lifestyle, and tastes. Concentrate on getting your exercise and eating properly and let your body figure out how much it needs to weigh.
Trying to tailor a weight loss program on someone else’s results is just asking for trouble as far as weight loss is concerned. They may be able to run faster than you. They may have a higher metabolic rate than you. They may have a different bone structure. They may have fewer obstacles than you. Let’s face it, somebody like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can have the best equipment, the finest personal trainer, and can make the opportunity to sculpt a beautiful body. Plus they have the incentive of knowing that their multimillion dollar salaries depend on their maintaining the basic equipment their genetic makeup endowed them with. You and I have an old set of barbells, a cracked sidewalk, sneakers that are falling apart, live paycheck to paycheck, and the kids are going to be home in two hours. You and I are not going to look like Brad, Angelina, or Arnold. Just do the best you can with what you’ve got, and you will not regret the outcome, trust me.