One of the biggest resolutions we Americans choose year after year is to lose weight. We pick it several times during the year, some for reasons like an upcoming wedding or having to wear sleeveless summer clothes. Of course we are also prompted to loose weight because of our health, even though scientific studies now show that being a little overweight is healthier than being skinny. I was looking at the history of diets and it goes back centuries. We may have the issue exaggerated today, but even the ancients looked for the secrets of weight loss. Weight is a big issue and I wanted to give you some food for thought as you fight the battle of the flab.
Know that the weight loss game is highly personal; you will not be able to win the game trying to blend into a 'one fits all' program. You need a personal solution to reach your wellness goals including diet and exercise guidance. The following will seem discouraging, but they are factual truths of what you are up against in the weight loss battle. You should know these items as you are going through your process.
1) Weight loss efforts fail 95% of the time, people regain the weight and more back within a year of stopping their diet. Most of the time their system is left in a worse health condition than before they started, shifting their muscle / fat ratio to less muscle and more fat in the end.
2) The list of negative side effects of weight loss is as long as my arm, starting with decreasing our immune system leading to more colds and eventually going to serious side effects such as gall bladder disease and even death.
3) Ten to fifteen percent of the population is resistant to diet and exercise. No matter what they do, they will not loose weight through these two activities.
4) Science has now officially determined that exercise does not cause weight loss. Weight loss is a possible side of exercise but it is more about improving health. Exercise helps you stay healthy but will not necessarily help you drop weight. Sometimes it will cause weight gain as you add muscle to your frame. A cup of muscle weighs more than a cup of fat so you could drop your pants size and still add numbers onto the scale.
5) Science has shown that the greatest percentage of weight loss actually occurs during sleeping hours. Sleep is a major component to losing weight.
I am going to be bold and say that total wellness is important to your weight numbers. Science hasn't been able to quantify these yet, but proper levels of stress, physical activity, community social opportunities, inner faith and intrinsic meaning are all components to weight levels. Diet and exercise alone is not going to win the long term war.
Too often we want to see big numbers falling off the scale with easy solutions, but bodies do not work that way and if you want real weight loss you need to understand how your body works, and not just calories in vs. calories out.
Let's now look at one of the major things you will be battling: homeostasis. Your body has a built in mechanism to keep things the same. As soon as you make changes it will try to incorporate the changes so that your body is stabilized. It is part of your basic health mechanisms. It is good because the body naturally wants to return to wellness and balance.
As an example, let’s say you start a walking program of two miles a day. Initially your body reacts in surprise and starts to make changes to address the new exercise. You will see some changes, but as soon as it can your body will try to go back to the way it operated before the changes. Your body becomes more efficient and you will need greater effort to make equivalent changes. You only get frustrated.
Let's try an example that chronic dieters might understand. You try a weight loss plan and loose ten pounds pretty easily. You go off of the plan and then think, ‘I'll just do the same thing as before’. This time the plan doesn't work as well and it is harder to loose weight. It isn't that the plan has changed, it is your basic system that has changed. It became more efficient and able to run off of fewer calories.
The key to weight loss is to find the limits of your body's homeostasis and work with those limits. This explains why there are many diet plans which work for some people, or some diet plans that are only tested for six weeks because any test beyond that would show that homeostasis kicked in and the plan doesn't work in the long term. Think about it, if diets fail 95% of the time then it is possible that the success which happens 5% of the time is most likely an abnormal body response. It isn't about weight loss as much as being healthy and letting your weight go to a healthy level for you.
For now, know the fight! Your body and you will need a good battle plan if you wish to really get in and stay in shape. It isn't impossible, it is a huge battle and there are no short cuts. You will need new life style choices which work within your body's unique limitations.
Linda Bender is a personal wellness coach. She uses over 20 holistic life coaching and touch therapy techniques from reiki to personal training to help you reduce stress and pain so your body invokes its natural healing ability. She is at Bender Healing on Church Street in Phoenixville. Bender Healing provides massage, reiki, reflexology, personal training, nutrition, life coaching and energy medicine. See www.BenderHealing.com or call 800-706-1354 for more information.