Being overweight or obese is an important public health issue and can lead to high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes, increasing your risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
But a recent survey of nearly 2,000 Canadians found that while 62% tried to lose weight over the past five years, 70% of those who were overweight put the pounds back on and then some.
What are we doing wrong?
Legendary comedian Henny Youngman used to joke about visiting his doctor: Doc, it hurts when I do this. The doctors reply: Well, stop doing this.
The reality is we shouldnt need to spend billions of dollars every year on weight-loss programs and products. We know why were overweight we eat too much and dont exercise enough.
So isnt it time we stopped doing this?
Easier said than done, of course, but far from impossible and actually much simpler than many of us realize. Every successful fitness and weight loss program boils down to two key ingredients: eating well not dieting! and staying active not exercising! Plus maintaining how we eat and stay active depends on consistency, intensity, moderation and support.
Lets unpack these important elements one by one:
- Eating well: Our ancestors didnt diet much. They didnt rigidly consume X% of carbs and Y% or protein or check food labels for grams of fat or calories from sugar or sugar substitutes. In fact, most of the time, finding enough to eat was the more immediate challenge. When they did, they tried to eat a reasonable balance of grain, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Whats more, they obviously didnt eat processed foods. They stuck to simple foods that come out of the ground or oceans, or are raised on land. Eating a lot of processed foods, often made with a lot of artificial ingredients, is not usually eating well.
- Staying active: Our forebears didnt have treadmills or barbells or stationary bicycles to stay active. They were too busy toiling fields, hunting wild game or raising livestock. While most of us dont perform that sort of labour anymore, it doesnt mean sitting at a computer, behind the wheel or curled up on a couch for hours every day is okay. Our bodies evolved to be active and we need to find ways to do so. Running or weight-training isnt for everyone. But its still important to find an activity or sport you enjoy doing a few hours each week that can get your heart rate up and help you break a sweat. How much activity you need to lose weight depends on how much weight you want to lose and how much youre eating. But think of it this way: each kilometer you walk burns around 100 calories so walk 5 kilometers a day and you could burn an extra 300 calories that would otherwise turn to fat in your body. In a month, thats about 9,000 calories, which amounts to about 2.6 pounds or 30 pounds in a year 30 pounds by simply walking 5 KM every day.
- Consistency: As you can see, you can realistically lose 2 or 3 pounds in a month from brisk walking. If youre 50 or 100 pounds overweight, that might sound discouraging but it shouldnt be. Rome, as they say, wasnt built in a day. Imagine if you were building a new home but only devoted an hour to it every week, or stopped for months or years. It would never get built. Achieving a big goal requires that you be consistent. If you cant work out every day, thats okay. Then work out longer three days a week, every week, all year, until it becomes second nature. And make it a priority to find the time. We all lead busy lives but most of us still miraculously find time to watch TV or surf the internet for hours every week. If you have time for Facebook, Candy Crush or NCIS, you have an hour a day to make yourself healthier and lose weight.
- Intensity: Some people go to the gym and halfheartedly peddle on a stationary bike as they text or surf on their smartphone, or socialize with their friends. (Maybe thats even you.) Whatever activity you choose to stay active and lose weight, focus on it. Research suggests that paying attention while youre working out can increase the exercises effectiveness by 30 or 40% — in other words, when you get in the zone, you get more out of what youre doing.
- Moderation: Diets that forbid you to eat sweets, fat or processed foods have their hearts in the right place but theyre not realistic. Were all going to give in to temptation sooner or later. As long as you stay active and eat a balanced diet, you can give yourself permission to eat a burger and fries or ice cream once or twice a week. And when you do, dont binge but moderate. Dont sit in front of the TV with a bag or chips or container of ice cream. Grab a small bowl, dole out a satisfying portion, and enjoy. We rarely eat the foods that tempt us because were starving. We eat them because we have a craving. So satisfy your craving in moderation.
- Support: It can be tough going it alone. Some of us are good at it but most of us arent. So get some backup. Are both you and your girlfriend or buddy trying to lose weight? Do it together. Make it competitive. Root each other on. Sometimes its really hard to lose weight or get fit without motivation. So team up with someone you love and trust and motivate each other.
What are your weight loss and fitness success stories? Please share them with the Shop Talk Blog community and lets all motivate each other!
Did you know?
Your mom was right about chewing your food. It turns out you tend to eat more if you dont have to chew a lot. Its why restaurant chains tenderize their meat and make it dissolve in our mouths more easily. When we eat foods that take longer to chew and swallow, we tend to eat less.
(Source: Psychology Today)