Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Good health takes too long. I just want to be skinny.

As of last year, over 154 million people in the US are either overweight or obese. That's almost half of the US population. It's estimated that 45% of Americans diet (participate in a special weight-loss plan) each year and spend $33 billion on weight loss-related items annually.

Over 80% of people fail to follow through with their diets. That's $26,400,000,000 wasted annually.
In 2007, researchers at UCLA did a massive analysis of 31 studies that focused on dieting and weight loss. The result: dieting does not work for most people.
One study of dieting obese patients followed them for varying lengths of time. Among those who were followed for fewer than two years, 23 percent gained back more weight than they had lost, while of those who were followed for at least two years, 83 percent gained back more weight than they had lost. . . . One study found that 50 percent of dieters weighed more than 11 pounds over their starting weight five years after the diet.
The analysis also found that 
In several studies, people in control groups who did not diet . . . were better off than those who did diet.
Results like these are not surprising to those who have studied weight loss and dieting. A classic study called the Minnesota Starvation Experiment looked at the results of extreme dieting. The results found that 

  1. Dieters are eight times more likely to develop weight regulation problems
  2. Dieters have a 300% greater risk of obesity
  3. 90% of those who severely restrict their eating habits develop binge eating disorders later in life

Why? Why does this happen?
The big thing for my parents' generation was artificial sweeteners and "lite" foods. The big thing nowadays is replacement meal shakes and smoothies. Either way, you go on a diet, do a challenge, or participate in a special eating plan with the short-term goal of losing weight. Once you've lost it, then yay! you're done. But that's part of the problem. Goals are something that we attain, not maintain. We get our high school diplomas or college degrees and say "I'm done! I never have to do that again!" Goals are things that have a beginning and an end. 

Not so with good health. Good health is a life-long goal. We need to be working on it our entire lives. That's a long time.

Regardless of gender, most of us don't want good health. We just want to be skinny. We don't start our diets thinking that we'll be doing this for the rest of our lives. I mean, do you really plan on buying that companies' weight-loss foods and nutrient-rich smoothies forever? They may be absolutely delicious, but I highly doubt it. Dieting is designed to be temporary. It does not require making lifestyle changes to improve our overall well-being because that's not what we want from a diet. I have friends who love their diets because they didn't have to change anything about their current lifestyle to lose weight. They feel great and didn't even have to sweat.

Of course they feel great. If I lost 30-50 pounds, I'd feel great, too. But maintaining that loss requires more than just feeling great. If you want to keep the weight off but don't want to start exercising or paying better attention to what you're buying at the store, you may find short-term success, but you will fail in the long run. Why do so many people who are already in great shape bother to exercise? It's because they know that good health isn't something you can just start and stop when you want to. Frequent exercisers do what they do because overall good health is something you consistently maintain, not attain.

Maintaining weight loss requires living a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle requires lifestyle changes. Quit it with the soda (even if it's diet); Stop eating fast food on a regular basis; Don't celebrate every success with food; Do what my grandpa's doc told him to do: "whatever you're eating, eat half of it;" stay hydrated; carbs and meats are amazingly yummy, but keep them to a minimum; Stop seeing weight loss as a goal to attain and start seeing it as a habitual part of a healthy lifestyle. Habits are things that take time to become automatic but tend to stay once you've been doing it long enough. Even if you deviate every once in a while, habits are very easy to go back to.

What do you do to improve your health? What don't you do and why don't you do it?


  1. I am a Beachbody coach and yes, I do challenge groups and yes, I do drink their shakeology. But, I drink the shakeology because of how it makes me feel. It makes me feel happy. It makes me more energetic- WITHOUT caffeine. It does more for me health wise that I wont go into detail about here. And the challenge groups, yes, a person could quit and not do them again and could gain weight again. That is a fact of life. However, we do challenges for at least 21 days. Why? Because it takes 21 days to make a habit. So, we are not just looking for a quick way to lose weight. I would never want that for my clients. Additionally, I don't want them to be skinny. I want them to be healthy and strong. I want people to develop good habits that last for a LONG time! If you are a good Beachbody coach, you will continue to coach the person even after they are done with the challenge groups- no matter if their workout routines include Beachbody or not. The goal of the challenge groups is the end the obesity epidemic and get people to eat healthier and exercise. In the diet I recently did, I had to eat 5 times a day. I was NEVER starving and I never had to eat anything I didn't like. I still ate lasange, stir fry, spaghetti and a whole bunch of other things. So, what am I doing to improve my health? I am working out every day. I am cutting out foods that are not good for me. Am I going to say that you can't have a piece of cake every once and a while? No. But I am learning portion control and how to say no!

    1. :) No worries, Kimmers, you weren't who I was referring to in my blog. If you were, I'd have to slam on myself, too. I regularly do P90x, part of the Beachbody system. It is not a fad diet because it teaches you how to manage your body appropriately for overall good health, and they require lifestyle changes to do it. There's nothing wrong with a good, healthy smoothie as long as that's not all you're consuming. The shakes I referred to are the ones that are part of other diets that don't require any other work. I have many friends that encourage others to participate in those programs because no lifestyle changes are involved. The Beachbody system is a "how to live in good health" system, not a "you'll be back when you realize you can't do this without me" system. They hope that you'll be able to do it on your own once you reach your goals. That is very different from many of the other diets out there, which is why I love it! I'm glad you're doing it, too. (And I loved your blog post about becoming a Beachbody coach, by the way).


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