It is estimated that over 1/3 of North Americans are actively trying to lose weight at any given time. That is why the diet industry is thriving and so many books and DVDs are dedicated to the “best way“ to accomplish weight loss. People don’t know which way to turn or what diet to try anymore. Carbs, no carbs? High protein, vegetarian? Blood type? Grapefruits only? It is baffling and often dangerous to apply all the fad diets to what is actually simple math.
Weight loss or gain is a relatively easy process in the body: if you eat more calories than you expend in activity during the day you will gain weight. Therefore the opposite must also be true. Eat fewer calories and you will lose weight. However, this simple equation does not take into account the type of food eaten, exercise level, muscle and bone loss, and where the fat comes off the body.
Weight loss should be a great side effect of trying to improve your overall health and well being. Health and vitality are the objective of any successful lifestyle change; thinness is not the only goal. There are actually quite a few thin unhealthy people who eat appalling food and never exercise. People losing even a small amount of weight while eating a healthy diet can enjoy wonderful benefits such as lowered blood pressure, lowered cholesterol and the loss of even 7-9 pounds and maintaining the loss can prevent type 2 diabetes. The bottom line is there are no fad diets that will work in the long run; fluctuating yo yo dieting can take an incredible toll on the body and actually produce weight gain.
Being overweight simply does not feel good. It takes a toll on all the body systems, from feet and knees all the way to mental health. The societal pressure to be thin can be demoralizing and damaging and create a vicious cycle of feeling bad about weight and stress eating as a result. Instead of focusing on losing numbers on the scale it is much more productive to make healthy changes in diet and participate in a moderate exercise program. Weight loss, improved muscle tone and increased energy will follow these changes naturally.
So start small with changes like the following:
- Stop drinking soda and sugary fruit juice
- Cut out cookies, chips, ice cream, candies and donuts
- Switch to whole wheat breads and pastas
- Do not eat processed meats (lunch meats, hotdogs, bacon etc)
- Add at least 2 servings of fruits and vegetables to your day
- DO NOT skip breakfast, this will create a sluggish metabolism
- Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, no sauces or complicated cooking processes
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, hydration is crucial
- Follow a moderate exercise program, even walking for half an hour a day
Good health should never be taken for granted. The numbers on the scale should never the guideline for health and well being. Look at your energy level, your overall appearance from lovely shiny hair, clear complexion and good muscle development. Can you walk a flight of stairs or play Frisbee with your kids without being out of breath? That is the goal you should be striving for and great motivation for a positive lifestyle change.