I recently read a few statistics on weight loss in the United States and it was actually really sad to me, but definitely not shocking. The biggest things that really struck me were that the average person in the US actively looking to lose weight spends $800 per year on diet products and services and that same person spending $800 per year makes 4 diet attempts per year. That means at least 3 attempts fail or their efforts are wasted because they gain the weight right back.
First of all, I want to say that I’m not opposed to using certain products or services to aid in weight loss. Obviously as a coach, I earn an income by helping others to lose weight, however my goal is that you don’t have to spend $800 a year to lose the weight and maintain your weight loss. My goal as a coach is to teach you how to eat right for your body long-term, so I guide you through losing the weight, but I also teach you how to maintain that weight loss. A good weight loss program should provide you the knowledge and skill set to lose weight and keep it off and the truth of the matter is that most of them just aren’t doing that.
SUPPLEMENTS: There are supplements out there that can aid in losing weight, in fact I use some supplements personally to aid in my efforts. The key is that the supplements are NOT my main strategy and they are NOT the reason I’m finally at the weight I’ve dreamed of being at for the past 7 years! In terms of weight loss, the number one key to losing or maintaining your weight is nutrition. Coming in second is physical activity, being active is a big piece of the health and weight struggle. Managing stress and getting enough sleep are also an important factor. After all of those things, supplements can be a useful tool, but as you can see they are NOT necessary for weight loss or overall health. The reason so many people are willing to spend money on “fat burning” or “carb blocking” pills is that they’re looking for a quick fix and don’t want to give up their donuts and pizza. I don’t want to give up donuts and pizza either, but trust me I know from experience that a crappy diet can’t be fixed with pills. I still enjoy donuts and pizza, but I work them into an overall healthy diet and that is the key to keeping the weight off. I do take an all-natural thermogenic supplement, as well as a probiotic, a multi-vitamin, and a stress relief supplement to help me fall asleep at night. None of these things are the cause of my weight loss, they are all just extra tools that help to enhance my overall lifestyle.
FAD DIETS: Another big issue I see with the weight loss industry is fad diets. I keep seeing people post on their social media about doing the military diet, grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet, juice cleanse, etc this list could go on and on. Here’s the problem with all of these fads, they’re a “quick fix” that might help you lose a few pounds short-term, but that’s just water weight and whatever junk was sitting in your colon. This is not long-term sustainable weight loss and you will likely see that weight right back on your body a week or so after your diet is over. Seriously, stop torturing yourself with these ridiculous ideas. Many of these fads were designed by people in positions that require a weigh in who need to shed just a couple pounds to meet their short-term weight requirements.
ELIMINATION DIETS: Elimination diets drive me crazy! I have certainly seen people see great results by eliminating certain foods from their diet and I have nothing against Whole 30 or Paleo or any of those sorts of diets for people who are able to successfully follow through with these lifestyle changes. I try to eat mostly nutritious foods, I focus on getting enough fiber daily, but I will not tell myself that pizza is off-limits because when I’ve done that in the past all it has done is lead to binge-eating. This is the way it works for a lot of people, willpower is really hard to maintain for a long time and if you really enjoy eating something, you’re not going to be able to give it up for the rest of your life. I have young kids, telling them not to do something makes them want to do it even more. Our brains work that way, as soon as something is off-limits you start to think about it more. As adults, we have more of an ability to tell ourselves no, but after thinking about something for long enough it just gets harder and harder to say “no” and why would you want to put yourself through that?! You just have to be mindful and make choices in line with your goals. Don’t eat the whole pizza, eat a slice and have a salad with it. Prepare in advance when you know you’re having pizza for dinner and eat a light breakfast and lunch. From personal experience and from reading/watching/listening to dozens of experts, it’s very common for people who put certain foods off-limits to eventually cave in and binge on those foods and set themselves back from any progress they’ve made.
I tried a ketogenic diet for a while and saw great results, but when I really started thinking about the long-term ramifications of sticking with that diet, I realized it wasn’t sustainable for me. I actually really like carbs… and not just the bad carbs like donuts and cupcakes… vegetables and fruits, rice, pasta, whole grain bread, potatoes. It was difficult to get enough fiber on the keto diet because it’s very hard to eat fruits and vegetables when you’re eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates daily. Sure I got to eat lots of cheese and bacon, but after a while I just wanted to eat a banana without using up more than half of my daily carb allowance!
Clean eating is something a lot of people use as an approach to losing weight. People’s definition of “eating clean” varies from person to person, but in general this approach means you’re not eating processed food. This can be very difficult because it limits your ability to partake in certain social situations that involve eating… which is a lot of events… weddings, birthday parties, graduation parties, holiday cook outs, Thanksgiving, and just your regular old night of going out to eat. I don’t advocate for eating garbage all the time, but if you mostly eat fruits and vegetables, lean meats, eggs, nuts, etc. it’s alright to indulge a little in some not so nutritious food. I actually know people who have done certain clean diets and haven’t lost weight, I know some people who have gained weight with clean eating, I also know people who say they can go a good 3-4 weeks on clean eating and then they binge like no other and go right back to where they started.
BASIC NUTRITION SCIENCE: This is super basic information, but it’s enough to grasp the concept. Our bodies burn calories constantly, if you were in a completely vegetative state your body would still be burning calories for the energy to run your vital organs and basic body functions, this is your Basal Metabolic Rate. Adding in daily activities increases the number of calories your body burns, this is your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). TDEE varies from person to person based on your body weight, lean mass vs body fat, height, age, gender, and activity level. If you take in more calories than your TDEE you are in a caloric surplus and will gain weight, if you take in fewer calories than your TDEE you are in a caloric deficit and will lose weight, and if you’re eating about what you’re burning you will maintain your current weight. So whether it’s “clean food” or “dirty food”, if you’re eating in a deficit you’ll lose weight and if you’re eating in a surplus you’ll gain weight.