We have heard it all before, “eat less and exercise more.” We are aware of and are constantly reminded of that “simple” formula. If it’s so elementary why are so many of us not sticking to the program? What’s getting in the way? How do we work on this in a sound way that’s going to produce effective results – not just temporarily but for the long haul?
We are fortunate to have at our fingertips a plethora of resources to learn improved nutrition and how to engage in physical fitness. We have a vast amount of information from the medical establishment, nutritionists, books, social media, fitness trainers, well known gurus, and others but yet we’re still stuck on this roller coaster.
Evidence is building that conventional weight-loss methods simply don’t work in the long-term (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17469900), yet we still continue down the frustrating path of trying to find the quick fix and miracle method. In the US, our annual revenue to the weight loss industry is $20 billion and annually 108 million people are on diets. Dieters typically make four to five weight-loss attempts per year (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/100-million-dieters-20-billion-weight-loss-industry/story?id=16297197).
It is this roller coaster cycle that contributes to the epidemic we find ourselves in with the increasing numbers of individuals finding themselves overweight and obese. The rate of weight gain and obesity, have been steadily been increasing over the past 14 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adults age 20 years and over who are obese is 35.1% and the percentage of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight, including obesity is 69.0%. It has reached epidemic proportions so much so that this past year the American Medical Association defined obesity as a disease.
It was once believed that healthy eating and engaging in physical fitness was essential for only those that “needed it.” It is critical for every person. We have learned that there are numerous benefits to maintaining a healthy diet and having cardiovascular strength. Again all benefits we are aware of including controlling and maintaining weight, improving mood, combating disease, boosting energy and improving longevity. In an eight year study by ACE of 13,000 people, just walking 30 minutes improved cardiovascular fitness and decreased premature death.
We all have the need to embrace a healthy lifestyle. For those fortunate with being born with fast metabolisms, age catches up, and eventually the metabolism slows down. We also know that appearing physically thin doesn’t necessarily mean being healthy. The newly acquired term for the “skinny fat.”
I want to provide you with tips to help you get back on track with successful weight loss and weight management. I will cover exercise as well in blogs to come. I also recommend you reading my prior blog on how the approach to weight loss and weight management in this country is being approached peripherally and how different treatment strategies need to be considered (http://www.michellemaidenberg.com/fed-up-with-missing-the-boat-on-obesity/).
The other issue we can’t ignore is how we are socialized and how this challenge is impacting our children. In a study by Jodi Rubin, she found that 81 percent of 10 year old girls are afraid of being “fat”, 51 percent of girls between 9 and 10 years old feel better about themselves when they are dieting and 45 percent of boys are unhappy with their bodies. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 40-60 percent of elementary school girls ages 6-12 experience concern about their weight or fear becoming “too fat.” Another future blog will also focus on honoring our children and helping them to help themselves.
Tips on Weight Loss & Weight Management
Do a thorough evaluation of your eating behavior and challenge yourself to face all parts of yourself (this includes your cravings, triggers, hunger cues, thirst cues, how much you eat, what you eat, when you eat, etc.). Think of yourself as your own science experiment; We have many sabotaging thoughts that help us rationalize why we do what we do such as “it’s just a little piece”, “I’ll make up for it later”, “I’ll never be good at this”, “I want it”, “It’s a special occasion”, etc. I have a list of over 25 thoughts such as these that trip us up. Identify what your thoughts are and note which ones are most prevalent and how you weave back and forth between them. Respond to them instead of giving into them. Thoughts are not facts. We choose whether we act on behalf of them. Try saying to yourself, “I’m having the thought….” Rather than giving into the thought. You get to decide on what action you want to take based on your value of health;
When you think of nurturing your body, implement the 3P’s (my coined phrase: “predict, plan & put into action”). Based on understanding and accepting your eating behaviors implement the 3P’s. As a note, you don’t necessarily have to “like” these challenging thoughts and feelings you have but you must be willing to work with them. Obviously the hope is that overtime your relationship with food and with yourself will change and you’ll be more accepting at the gut level. Avoid saying there are “good” and “bad” foods and I am “good” or “bad” if I eat or overeat those foods. Also referring to “clean” eating, which is widely used today. What is the opposite, dirty eating? That is polarized thinking and inevitably leads to feelings of guilt and shame and being judgmental of yourself. It also perpetuates the thinking loop. For example, “I can’t believe I ate (or want to eat) that” -> “What’s wrong with me that I can’t control myself” -> “I wish I didn’t have these thoughts and could control myself” -> “I am such a loser that I even have to have to think about this.” It is the thoughts looped with the thought about the thoughts. We try to shut out and shut up those shameful and guilty thoughts by just eating. We know what thoughts come up with a vengeance when we actually engage in the behavior. It’s important to remember that we are not our thoughts. We are defined by our actions, not our thoughts.
Commit to making this a process and a practice. Consistency is key. Anything we want to excel in, we need to put in time, effort, and personal dedication. It’s just a fact. For example, a skilled athlete needs to find time to practice his/her sport, put effort into his/her performance of the sport and consistently practicing throughout the year, even during off season to maintain his/her skill and agility.
- Get support for your practice. It increases the chances that you’ll sustain health and weight management if you utilize a variety of supports throughout. Choose what works for you. You can solicit the support of friends, family, a support group and/or using an App such as MyFitnessPal, Noom Weight, and 7 min workout, etc. (for a list of the top 26 Apps go to http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/top-iphone-android-apps-weight-loss#promoSlide).
These are initial tips and there will be many more to follow! Let’s honor our bodies for what they do and how they function. They work really hard for us. We are vigilant about getting an oil change for our cars with the awareness if we don’t, it will eventually break down and we won’t be able to go where we need to go. The same holds true for our bodies.
We need to treat our bodies kindly, tune up with foods rich in nutrients and exercise so our organs function efficiently. So we can go where we need to go. Each of us deserves to live a life rich in self-love and nurturance. Let’s start here or continue on that path. I’m honored to support you through it.