WHAT THE BEST WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM IS NOT.
The best weight loss program is probably NOT about diets, diet pills, fad diets, or even about dieting! While it involves physical activity...we're all adults here, I'll use the word..exercise...it is NOT about pushing your physical limits, embarrassing yourself in front of the neighbors, joining an expensive gym, or hiring a personal trainer. It is NOT about joining a cult, avoiding friends, alienating your family, eating only unappealing and unappetizing foods or feeling guilty and depressed. Most of all, it should NEVER be about BEING ALONE in your struggle.
WHAT THE BEST WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM IS!
Most simply stated, the best weight loss program is the one you will stick with. Let's modify that a little and say that it is a healthy, doable, rational, flexible program you will stick with...that works!
THE BASIC FACTS ABOUT DIETING AND WEIGHT LOSS!
Diets don't work. Yep! It is that simple. Oh, if you want to drop 5 or 10 lbs to look good at your sister's wedding, a quick diet might be okay. But if you truly have a weight problem, as over 50% of Americans do, it is a lifelong condition and requires lifelong measures. However, don't consider yourself doomed to a life without pleasure or happiness, and don't give up. Go back and read the first paragraph, and realize that there are things that CAN be done, and YOU CAN DO THEM. In the meantime however, let me just cover a few facts. Quick and dirty. You can scan through them and just get the basics. This article is not going to be big enough, nor intimidating enough, to include everything.
WHY DIETS DON'T WORK.
Diets don't work for a lot of reasons, physical and mental, but I don't have enough space here to cover all of them. The main reason a diet will not work is that your body has some really effective self-regulating mechanisms. If you deprive it of it's expected calorie intake over a period of time, it will adjust itself to need less calories. Although you will be eating less (and definitely not enjoying it), your body will settle into a new pattern and your weight will level off with only a small weight loss. Even worse, when you stop dieting, as you know you will, the body will keep its new level of calorie need while you return to your old eating habits. This brings us to another point.
THE BASIC LAW OF WEIGHT LOSS AND WEIGHT GAIN.
Everybody's body works to it's own rhythm and needs, but they all follow the same law. If you take in more calories than your body needs, it will store the excess as fat. Bottom line. Fact. End of discussion...almost. Using the information in the paragraph above, you can see that when you quit your diet and go back to eating the old way after your body has adjusted its needs downward, you now have MORE EXCESS CALORIES TO BE STORED AS FAT! This is why people often GAIN WEIGHT after a diet...or series of diets.
SO WHAT IS THE BEST WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM?
As you can see, you are back at the beginning of this discussion, but with a little more information. We can still say that the best weight loss program is the one you will stick with, and now you know a little more about why. Since we are all different, the obvious fact should be that what you need to find is not THE best weight loss program, but YOUR best weight loss program...the one YOU will stick with. The big question in your mind is...
HOW DO YOU FIND "YOUR" BEST WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM?
There are a lot of things you can do to improve your health, your life, and your personal weight situation, such as drink more water, get plenty of sleep, do things that you enjoy, for example. These can all contribute to weight loss, but let's just look at two things for now.
1. Become more active: Notice, I avoided saying, "exercise". Whoops! I said it. Look, exercise equals activity. If you want to do Richard Simmons' tapes and "Sweat to the Oldies", more power to you. If you choose to buy a Bowflex and in a few months look like the grandmother in their TV commercials, that's great! Odds are however, you just need to make some lifestyle adjustments and become more aware of the opportunities that exist to "exercise" in daily life. Oh sure, a planned and scheduled exercise program is great, but so is a walk, or gardening, or swimming, or cleaning house, or...well, you get the idea. The only need is to make it regular,at least 4 or 5 times a week, and to make it challenging.
Only you can assess what is challenging. What is challenging today may simply be walking out to the mailbox and back. One lady started her "exercise program" with that simple step (no pun intended). Another gentleman started his program by walking to the end of his block. That first day, he thought he wouldn't even be able to get back to his house. A few weeks later, he was walking over a mile. At one point in my life, I regularly ran over 6 miles at a time. However, the first time I ever tried to run, I didn't make it half a block. The key is to get started, do it regularly, and challenge yourself.
Becoming more active not only burns calories during the activity (remember, the more calories burned the less fat stored), but continuing the activity over time (you were going to do it regularly) causes your body to shift to a new level where it automatically burns more calories than it used to. The facts behind this are not complicated but require a lot more space than we have here, and I did say I was going to keep to the basics.
People drop out of "exercise programs" for a lot of reasons. For your purposes, do the activity as it fits in your schedule, pick the activity that pleases you, and vary the activity...if you cleaned house yesterday, take a walk today. By the way, if I told you to exercise, to take a walk, you might begin that avoidance process that makes people drop out of formal, planned exercise programs. Why don't you take the grandkids to the zoo instead? If that isn't a workout, I don't know what is. Be creative. It's your "exercise program", make it what you want it to be.
2. Eat sensibly: You know how you SHOULD be eating, right! Back to basics. Lots of vegetables, cut down on portion sizes, have an apple instead of pie or a candy bar. Take the sugar out of your life. There are all kinds of diet tips running around. Not a single one of them is worth a hill of beans...but a bunch of them add up to a lot more than a hill of beans. Changing only one thing is probably not going to make a big difference, but...IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE! changing seventeen things might make quite a difference, but there's a secret...
Don't try to make all seventeen, or twelve, or thirty changes all at once. Start with one change, and once it is part of your life, make the next one. You might want to learn a little bit about Kaizen. Small steps in the nutrition area will help get you where you want to go eventually, just as taking that small walk out to the mailbox may someday lead to walking one or two miles at a time.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO STAY ON THIS WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM?
Well, for the rest of your life. That's why it is important to choose activities you enjoy and learn to make better nutrition choices while still enjoying the pleasure of eating. Also, many people have weight loss problems because they have personal issues with life. Your personal weight loss program, regular activity plus nutritional common sense, equals a sense of control over a situation that produces many negative affects in your life. A sense of control over that situation allows you to remove many of those negative affects and move on to rearrange other parts of your life that may need attention.
One last point. I have kept this as simple as possible, but it is based on a large body of information. If you truly want to create the most effective weight loss program for you, you will have to learn a lot more than you probably know now. The public library is a good place to start, as is the internet. Be aware, however, that many people will try to entice you with diet pills and lose-weight-quick plans. Stay focused on a lifestyle change that will last all your life. Even if diet pills, fad diets, and things like weight loss belts or devices that supposedly exercise for you do work, their affect is short lived (and sometimes dangerous) and, as was pointed out above, once you quit the pill or the program you may gain back even more weight than you lost.
A FINAL TIP:
Find a weight loss buddy. Share your goals, and the information in this article, with them. Make sure they are on the same wave length. You might want to walk with them, you might want to shop with them, but most of all, if there is no one else who understands what you are going through...they will, and that is worth more than gold.