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.
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