It’s that time of year again. My social media feeds are flooded with new resolutions of weight loss and getting healthy. Some people are trying out new diets, some are going back to their old favorites, and others have decided that exercise will take mainstage.
So, for all of you out there getting it with your goals, I say well done! I hope you achieve every goal you set for yourself.
2020 may not only go down as the worst year ever, but it will also go down as the one where we gained the inevitable quarantine weight, or known more affectionately as the covid 19…as in pounds. The dreaded extra pounds hit close to home as I found myself baking a little (okay, a lot) more than usual and then working hard right before the holidays to get rid of unwanted baggage when I discovered all of my pants were tight. It happens folks…to all of us.
So, as you start down this road of weight loss and you choose a program that looks like it’s right for you, step back and look at it with an abstract mind and ask some questions.
- Does it exclude healthy foods? Just yesterday I received a text from a friend starting a new program that told her to only eat berries and green apples (why not red? who knows?) for fruit and to stay away from carrots because they contain too much sugar. THIS is your redflag that whoever is leading this program doesn’t have a clue about nutrition and how nutrients work. Cupcakes have too much sugar…not carrots. I think sometimes people are messing with me with the carrot thing, as this is twice in a year someone has brought this to my attention. Eat your carrots people! Do not trust diets that exclude healthy foods. There are no bad vegetables or fruits – only unhealthy cooking methods. Potatoes are healthy, french fries are not. Let’s get rid of the rumors.
- Does it promise that you will get to eat all you want? This is a tricky one. Who doesn’t want to eat more? The truth is, some people do eat too much of the wrong food and…newsflash, it enables weight gain. Some people do need to eat less of the wrong foods (fast food) and more of the right foods (fruits and vegetables). A weight loss program should never make promises that you will be eating more than ever…because that simply doesn’t apply to everyone.
- Does it promise minimal exercise? One of my personal pet peeves. A basic understanding of metabolism will yield the understanding that in order to lose weight, the status quo cannot be maintained. Building muscle helps increase metabolic rate and will help you lose weight. It addition, moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise helps burn fat. It is possible to lose weight with changes in diet alone, but it happens quicker and is maintained longer, with exercise.
- Does it call for complete restriction of something? Usually it’s added sugar, alcohol, or bread. These seem to be the demons of the diet world right now. It’s not a surprise that short term diets that implement complete restriction often fail or keep bringing you back for “one more round”. Sure, we don’t need a snickers bar and a coke everyday, but a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine is perfectly do-able in a weight loss plan. Total and complete restriction leads to binging after it’s all said and done…also why I loathe the idea of a “cheat day”. Total nonsense. If you are serious about long term weight loss, you have to learn how to live with all foods staring you in the face, otherwise, you’ll keep wasting your money on frustration.
There are weight loss programs that work for some people, you just have to find the one that works for you. I’ve seen many programs that promote healthy habits and successfully help their clients lose weight. Look for the programs that have stood the test of time.
I get asked a lot why there aren’t more dietitians out there with massive weight loss programs and here’s the answer.
We know that what works for you, might not work for Bob or Susie. Different medical conditions, medications, age, maturity level, activity level, allergies, etc make it impossible to make a program for the masses. We educate on proper nutrition and all stand united that there are many definitions of a healthy diet.
There is also a liability issue. We are legally licensed practitioners. Your health coach is not. They have nothing to lose if they give advice that’s harmful, we do. Dietitians are very careful about the advice we give and that should make you feel good about asking us when you have a question. We look at the entire person, not just someone’s weight, to make a determination for advice.
If you want a weight loss plan that is for you and you alone, seek out the help of a RD, especially if you have medical conditions that make it difficult to lose weight.
You can lose weight on a program, not because of the program, but because YOU made the decision to eat healthy and exercise.