Weight Loss Tricks That Don't Work

It's almost summer and the dreaded bathing suit season is upon us. Many of us are looking for a quick way to shed those few pounds we were able to cover up in warm layers over the winter. Before you start, read on about the weight loss tricks that people use that don't work. 

#1: Crash diets:  Most people turn to extreme measures to quickly shed a few pounds. Usually, it is some sort of crash or fad diet. The cabbage diet, the juice cleanses, the only eating celery and mustard diet, etc. These fad diets all have one thing in common: they are not sustainable. No matter who you are (unless you are totally deranged), you will get very sick of eating so restrictively very quickly. You may lose a few pounds in the few days you manage to choke down that bland food, but you will throw up your hands and scream "I quit!" the minute you encounter a cheeseburger. 

#2 Severe calorie restriction:  This approach is the most damaging to your ability to lose weight long term. Our brains and bodies are very adaptive. We would not have survived as a species without inherent biological systems in place that regulates our metabolism. Bottom line is that our bodies are designed to conserve energy. This comes in the form of storing body fat and reducing the bodies metabolic rate when calorie/energy threshold requirements are not being met. Sure, if you severely restrict your calories, you will lose weight, for a couple of weeks. Your body will spot the trend and start adjusting your metabolic rate down. What does that mean, it basically is telling your body that this is the new norm and tells your body not to burn so many calories for energy. Some systems get slowed down, things get adjusted, and boom, what you used to be able to eat calorie wise without gaining a pound now is considered excess calories by your body and is stored as fat. This is why you see so many people gain all the weight back plus some, after losing weight in a short amount of time (think about all those ex-biggest loser contestants). 

#3:  Relying on exercise to lose weight: This is the most common mistake people make when trying to lose weight. Contrary to the "Move More" motto of the government, research has long debunked the myth that working out = weight loss.  This just isn't scientific fact. Research shows that the most active people on the planet (aboriginal tribesman who walk up to 10 miles a day hunting and gathering) only burn on average about 250 more calories a day than an American couch potato that at most walks from the fridge to the TV each day. That's it. Yes, you can throw away that smartwatch now that has been lying to you about burning 800 calories in one workout. Yes, working out helps your body composition, increase muscle tone and increase your metabolic rate slightly, but for weight loss, it's not the magic solution. 

The common theme with all of the above is having a mindset of a temporary solution and not focusing on a daily lifestyle change for long-term health. If a majority of your choices are the healthiest ones for you over a period of a year, you will see a gradual change in your weight and health. With our society being the one of instant gratification that it is, most people are not willing to put in the long-term work to make sure that any efforts are gradual and permanent (as opposed to temporary and short-term). If you start working on this lifestyle shift, this time next year when bathing suit season is upon us, you will see some major changes and feel a lot more hopeful about what you will see in the dressing room mirror when you try on that new bathing suit for years to come. 

Copyright Fire Team Whiskey 2018. All rights reserved. 

3 Natural Urges Humans experience and How to More Effectively Fight Them 

We as humans are biologically wired to encourage certain behaviors. Those behaviors are almost always related to survival in some way. Think about it! That urge to check out the very good looking young man or woman walking by is a biological urge of reproduction. That urge to Netflix and chill is a biological urge of energy preservation. The whole reason why your body stores fat is wired biologically! Our ancestors had to store fat very efficiently because there were almost always times of famine or scarcity of food (like winter months). Our biology doesn't know that we have access to food 24/7!

Despite our hard wiring, there are some cognitive behavioral techniques we can use in order to help us with these pesky urges. 

#1:  The urge to overeat. As stated above, our bodies are designed to overeat and store fat. Our species would not be around today without this mechanism in our biology. So as we take a look at that 4th piece of pizza that we can't seem to resist, how can we overcome our genetics? Some great strategies come from the Mindful Eating field of Psychology. Mindful Eating is behavioral practices that we can engage in everytime we eat in order to curtail giving into our biology. Here are just a couple of Mindful Eating skills. Before you eat, assess if you are really hungry. On a scale of 1 to 4 (1 being ravenously hungry to 4 being full) where are you? Unless you are a 1 or a 2, don't eat. And only ever eat until you reach a "3" on the scale. Once you reach a 3, stop. Another Mindful Eating skill is to well, eat mindfully! That means never eat while distracted or multitasking. So that means no scrolling through phones, no watching Tv, no working while eating. Sit, pay attention to only the task of eating. People who do this tend to eat less during the meal than those who are eating distracted. 

#2:  The urge to sit on your butt and do nothing. This is also engrained in our biology. Our bodies are designed to preserve energy as much as possible. This is because our ancestors needed to store energy in case of an urgent need to move, and move fast (survival instinct)! One great way to overcome this urge to be lazy is to get some accountability partners. Make a pact with a work friend and walk around the building every hour and during lunch. Track your steps on an app and get friends to join you on the app. Set up weekly competitions and challenges to beat each other for the number of steps you take in a week.  Research shows that having an accountability partner for fitness goals can make you up to 80% more likely to achieve your goal. 

#3: The urge to cheat. This can be cheating on a significant other or just cheating in general. A competitive edge is also ingrained in our biology. Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest is based on this principle. Our species was at one time in competition with other species and other groups of the same species for resources and thus survival. The urge to get something better than what we have or get something more than someone else can drive urges. The best way to deal with this urge is to identify when it is rearing it's ugly head and hit the pause button. Take a step back and start listing the things that you do have and what you like or love about what you do have. That lady walking by may have a great butt, but your spouse may be kind, funny and a great mom to your children. Are those things more valuable to you than a great butt? Yes of course! No one has ever said, "Well, she is a horrible mother to my kids, she is very boring and I hate spending time with her, but at least she has a great butt, so that makes up for it." Beauty is fleeting. That person with the great butt will eventually age and sag too. 

We hope these tips were helpful! Viva la resistance! 


© Fire Team Whiskey, LLC, 2018, All Rights Reserved