Why Diets Don't Work
“Diets don’t work.” “I can’t lose weight.” “I’m genetically heavier.” I’ve heard it all, OVER and OVER and OVER again. The frustration and desperation from one person after another who struggles with their weight.
And unfortunately, that’s a hell of a lot of people. The statistics tell us an estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight. And, should one of those individuals be able to lose the weight roughly 95% of those actually put it back on and then some. But WHY?
While it’s easy to blame this on the endless string of fad diets that leave your body far worse off than before they were begun, they aren’t responsible for the root of the problem.
In fact, I can easily teach you the science of weight loss in under 1 second! Ready for it... Eat LESS, move MORE. Oh, and don’t eat “food” that is complete shit.
There you go. Ta Da! And yet, so many continue to struggle. Of course there is some nuance, but it’s all just common sense. Don’t eat stuff that isn’t food like chemicals, preservatives, fake flavors, fats, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners etc. Do your best to consume all macro nutrients in their most whole form (quality proteins, fats, and carbohydrates). Go organic when possible to avoid pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.
So if it’s this simple, why it so hard and how do we overcome it once and for all?!
First, we have to accept that weight gain isn’t a physical problem, it’s a psychological one, that manifests in a physical condition. Until you address the issues behind why you overeat, no diet will work.
Yes, I said “overeat”. There’s nothing wrong with your genetics. You weren’t born fat. It isn’t carbs making you fat. It isn’t meat making you fat. It isn’t sugar. It isn’t fat. It’s too many calories. Period. Weight loss, maintenance and gain are all based upon an energy equation. Calories in verses calories out. Calories we consume that don’t get burned off in a day get stored as fat. Period. No matter how healthy their source. Take a bear for example – they eat wild salmon, nuts, berries, plants. And they pack on so many pounds they literally hibernate for the winter!
And even with conditions like a slow thyroid, PCOS, and the like you can still maintain a healthy weight. How do I know? I’ve had both of them since childhood and have managed both with the exact same common sense weight loss equation listed above. I eat less food. I move my body regularly. And what I do eat isn’t complete shit. Period. End of story.
So, how did I learn to control my eating and how can you? Knowledge of the fitness and nutrition science, understanding of why I eat more than I should, and some solid strategies to stop.
First, you must accept that eating less and moving more is the physical solution to weight management so you stop distracting your self with nonsense and when you do take action you get excellent results to help build self worth and keep you motivated.
Second, you want to work on identifying WHY you are overeating. What emotions are coming up for you? Do you eat when bored, sad, anxious, feel out of control or all the above? The important part of understanding this is further acknowledging the problem is emotional and psychological verses physical. And, it allows us to deal with these emotions in ways that are healthy verses self-destructive.
Third, what can you do to help curb the emotional eating in real time? These strategies have proven very effective for me and many others I’ve worked with!
- Build support with friends and family. Communicate your feelings about wanting to get healthy. Tell people how they can best support you on that journey – whether it’s going on a walk with you or helping you cook healthier food etc. And conversely, if the person isn’t supportive, but they are a permanent fixture in your life, do NOT share your goals with them and avoid any conversation that would allow them to discourage you or make you feel incapable.
- Join a community of like-minded individuals. There’s a reason my app has forums / message boards. And, there’s a reason I have a free private Facebook group. Find support from an outside community in a judgment-free zone where you can vent, empathize, and feel less alone knowing that many people struggle with similar issues as you.
- Find an activity or hobby that entertain you. Take up creative writing. Get into gardening. Try meditation. Volunteer to walk shelter dogs. Having something to help distract you and keep you from impulsively overeating can help curb thousands of calories over the long run.
- Engage in behaviors that comfort you and nurture you that aren’t food-related are critical. Try a beauty regimen, like getting a manicure pedicure. Take a bubble bath. Put a face mask on. Do a body scrub. These acts of caring for yourself help to build self esteem and give you a sense of comfort that doesn’t come from food.
Ultimately, the goal is to help you learn to manage emotions in the moment with nurturing, affirming habits and behaviors on your journey to a healthier you.