3 Weight Loss Truths

If you haven’t been bombarded with weight loss ads over the past week, you’re probably on a remote island soaking up the sun with the waves gently teasing your feet (bring me next time). There’s something about the start of a New Year that makes people freak out, lose their senses and develop completely unrealistic eating plans they will never follow for more than a few days. Before you get sucked into a crazy diet or juice cleanse, you should know the top three truths about weight loss.

1) No One Eats “Clean” all of the Time

Instagram and Facebook are full of photos of broccoli, brown rice and chicken meals neatly placed in Tupperware and followed by #mealprep #eatclean. The only thing more boring than looking at these meals is eating them day after day. No one eats like this all of the time. No one.
I’ve worked with a number of elite athletes who cut weight before a fight, match or event. They diet down, compete then loosen up their diet a bit before they need to diet down again. They aren’t eating bodybuilding-type meals every day year-round.

2) There is No One Perfect Diet

Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, juice cleanses, Paleo, Whole30. There is no “perfect” because what’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me. Figure out what changes you can realistically stick with, combine these with the general principles of healthy eating and start there. Forget what everyone else is doing, how your neighbor dropped 50 lbs. or what the actress on the cover of a magazine did. If you can’t stick with a plan, it won’t work.

Progress, not perfection, is the goal.

Celebrate each “win,” those small changes you’ve made that will add up to a big difference. You won’t necessarily notice a weight loss right away by making a few simple switches in your diet. However, I would rather people focus on the immediate difference – more energy, feeling better, more sleep, than the number on the scale. Feeling better each day will drive you to continue when the scale isn’t moving much.

3) You Must Exercise for Weight Loss

Can you lose weight without exercising? Yes absolutely. However, if you do not exercise you will lose more of your weight as muscle then fat. In addition to burning fewer calories each day when you lose muscle, you will notice a decline in strength and as you get older and everyday activities will become harder to do – lifting groceries, gardening, washing your car.

If you are not an exerciser and typically fall off when you start a new workout program, figure out what you like to do and do it. Forget all of the back-and-forth “noise” about high intensity interval training, the amount of rest in between sets and if you should train until muscle failure (until you cannot possibly lift the weight again). Instead, determine what brings you joy. What do you love to do? Dancing, yoga, hiking? What did you love doing as a kid? Hula hooping, double Dutch jump rope?

Do what makes you happy. Get moving and stay moving.

In addition to following these weight-loss truths, spend time feeling good about your body every single day. I meet so many people that are hyper focused on losing 5 pounds or 50 lbs. As they rattle off the reasons why they want to lose body fat and how this will drastically alter their life and make them happy, my mind often drifts off. I wonder what percentage of their thoughts are consumed by losing weight and dieting and if they are hyper-focused on controlling this aspect of their life because something else isn’t right. A marriage, their job, a friendship, their child’s behavior. If I ask the right questions something else they are ignoring often comes up.

Maintaining weight within a good range is very important for overall health. Obsessing about weight and dieting isn’t. I’ve coached enough people to know that one day you’ll look back years from now and wonder why you wasted so much time hating your body.

You’ll look back and say, “damn, I looked good! I wish I felt better about myself.”

“I wish I wore shorts in the summer.”

“Why didn’t I go to the beach in a bathing suit?”

“I wish I went to that party.”

I promise you, no one is criticizing your body. Every one around you is too busy focused on themselves. So go out and wear shorts, put on a bathing suit, try on that dress.

If you don’t love your body now, you won’t feel your best every day. You won’t enjoy life to the fullest. Work in this first (or in conjunction with healthy eating / a healthy approach to weight loss).

Because it’s a waste of time to spend your days bashing the body that does so much for you.

Why Hate Grains?

I’ve been ISO (that’s in search of) a reason for why so many people shun grains. If you do, please comment and let me know why, I’m open minded, educate me! Many think they shun grains as they command the attention of their friends during their brief table-side sermons about their “clean” diet. Next thing you know they are slapping one of their friend’s hands in shame for diving into the courtesy bread on the table. And then a brief debate ensues: “But it’s whole grain bread!” exclaims the friend, “yes but it contains gluten, that’s bad for your abs” says the nutrition-know-all preacher. The bread-loving friend bows his head in shame and asks the waiter to remove the bread from the table. The debate is over and the preacher has once more sprinkled his holy nutrition wisdom on the common folk.

I love observing people and listening. When I’m out and about I certainly do more of that then talking and it’s part entertainment, part behavioral education.  You see, I need to find out what people think and where they hear their nutrition knowledge so I can “undo” some of the  incorrect things they’ve been told. And when it comes to grains, there are indeed many figure and fitness athletes who avoid most grains except brown rice, quinoa and Ezekiel bread. However, the scenario I see in the general population is much different. They tell me about their ultra healthy diet and how they avoid grains during the week and eat a “clean” low fat diet. But then by the weekend I catch them downing a few beers (made from barley of course) and consuming tortilla chips or other bar food. It is almost as if they’ve adopted the “what happens on the weekends, doesn’t count and I don’t tell my dietitian” philosophy. And yet, these same people are spreading the “grains are garbage” philosophy to their peers.

So I ask, why avoid grains? Where’s the science? And I’m not talking about what my ancestors age 5,000 years ago.  They also exercised a heck of a lot more than we do today so that is a moot point. I don’t know many people running around (notice the exercise part) hunting down their own meat for dinner.

I do believe that cutting out grains works for some people because it is a thought-less process of cutting down on one large food group (no grains means no doughnuts, waffles loaded with butter and syrup or scones). But I think it sends others the very wrong message (ice cream isn’t a grain so I can dig in!). Not to mention that all grains aren’t created equally. Grains as consumed in a Hostess cupcake for instance are very different than a piece of fresh baked rye bread. And, research on barley and rye for instance, indicates that these grains produce a slow, sustained blood glucose response and therefore, they may be a better option than say a baked potato or piece of fruit.

Nutrition requires individual prescriptions and not wide reaching generalities to the masses because everyone’s physiology, training program, individual likes and dislikes (some people can’t live without their beer so I work with them on how they can lose weight but still drink a few brewskies). What works for you may not work for someone else. So please, if you hate grains, great, but don’t shake your finger at your friends or slap their wrist. After all, no one likes the food police.