Thursday, November 17, 2011

So you want to know my secret?

Weight Loss has become its own industry. In 2008, Americans spent over $40 billion dollars on the latest diet fads, workout DVDs and weight loss programs. And yet, as we all know too well, America is still the fattest nation in the world.

So then, what is the secret to weight loss? The secret is that nothing you will purchase, from supplements, to frozen dinners will make you lose weight. There is not a pill in existence that can correct the problem with the world’s obese. The problem is not with what you eat, how you combine nutrients, or how much you eat. In most cases, the problem is with your relationship with food.

We are addicts. We are addicted to pleasure, and yes, food creates pleasure. How else could a 23 year old woman who seldom ate sweets balloon to 310lbs?

It was addiction. It was being unaware of what this engine was requiring to function. It was comparing my slow metabolism to that of a cousin who has never had a weight problem. The problem with weight loss programs is that they prescribe the same formula for every individual who will buy in to this latest gimmick.
But, you see, we are not all the same. We don’t all like the same foods and we don’t have the same BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Cindy is not me, and I am not Cindy. Cindy may lose 3lbs a week from the time she hits the gym until she hits her desired weight of 135lbs. I, may only lose 1lb a week and then 10, and then 6. Weight loss programs need to take into account the person who is trying to lose weight.

Why do you overeat?

I overate because I was unhappy and because food provided relief from anxiety and depression in a way that no other “medicine” could. I “ate” my feelings. Bingeing on foods left me feeling numb. I didn’t have to “deal” with reality so long as I could get my “fix”.

Some people overeat out of habit or boredom. Most of us do it because we don’t know how much our bodies need to survive. Food is everywhere and we tend to assume that what is placed in front of us is “a portion” when often, it’s not.

So then, what is the secret of weight loss? The secret is to get to know yourself. Many of us think that we will “go on a diet” for a period of time and then return to our previous eating habits once we have lost the “x” amount of lbs we wish to lose. The point here, is that YOU CANNOT GO BACK TO THE WAY YOU USED TO EAT.

As mentioned earlier every person has a budget (BMR) which they have to work with. If you have a teacher’s salary, you’re not going to buy a Lamborghini now, are you? The same principle applies to calories. I, am presently sitting here, weighing 150lbs and my BMR was last measured around the 1350 calorie mark. This means that if I were to follow the Canadian Food Guide and eat roughly 2000 calories a day I would create an overage of 650 calories a day. That’s nearly 68lbs per year. The only way to reduce this overage is to be active or to decrease the amount of calories consumed daily.

As far as I know there is no such gene that controls obesity. If it were so, some babies would be born with 48% body fat while others would be born healthy.

I too fell into that trap. Blaming genes or others for my obesity. But, you see, there is nothing other than a thyroid problem or simply “eating too much and doing too little” which will create a spare tire. The first step to losing weight is a blood test. If your thyroid is healthy, than you know what to do.

Get tested and figure out what your "budget" is. The rest is really quite simple: as Jillian Michaels says, it’s all about calories in and calories out. I lost most of my weight whilst on a strict 1200-1400 calorie diet. I don't believe in cutting food groups. If you see in tracking what you eat that certain foods cause you to eat more, by all means, limit your consumption of these foods. Carbs have had a bad rap since Atkins came to fame. The problem is that carbs are your main fuel. Try driving a car without gas... it is nearly impossible. Don't buy in to plans which require you to make changes that cannot be permanent or semi-permanent. Your weight loss should be part of becoming a healthier individual and not a set diet with a beginning and end. 

I personally don’t believe in 30 minutes of moderate activity a day. I lost my weight going to the gym 4-5 times per week, and burning on average 400-600 calories per workout. Don’t be fooled, you cannot lose weight and maintain muscle tone by changing what you eat alone. Weight loss is hard work. You need to commit and push yourself. Weight loss "programs" that advertise "no activity" may work for the first few months but the risk is losing a great deal of lean body mass (muscle). You may see the numbers on the scale drop but in the end you will still be "jiggly" even if you become a size 2. 

And, that's another thing: the number on the scale should only serve as a guide at best. BMI and lbs tell us very little about health, fat%, and muscle tone. For example, a woman who is 27, 5'6, and weighs 150lbs can be (a) a cough potato, (b) someone who is active, (c) an Olympic Athlete. Visualize what each of these women look like. Can you see the difference? The lesson I want you to get from this is that you can stay at the same weight and drop 2-4 sizes and be a different person in the end. In other words, don't focus too much on the scale and measure your well being by how you feel. 

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