Podcast # 94 – Adopting A Healthy Lifestyle, Not A Diet
Our knowledge about the importance of healthy living may have increased, yet the dieting industry is bigger than ever before. In 2012, more than 100 million Americans were on some sort of diet, yet according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 70 percent of American adults remain overweight or obese.
The weight-loss industry reportedly rakes in a whopping $US20 billion annually. This comprises of diet plans and supplements that promise to help you shred the kilos and keep it off for the long term.
But it isn’t just American’s that are struggling to maintain a healthy weight range. According to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, half the adult population in NZ are either obese or overweight!
So why if the dieting industry is getting bigger, are people worldwide gaining unhealthy amounts of weight? Because diets don’t work!! In fact authors of a recent paper written in the Journal of American Medical Association recommend we forget the word “diet” altogether.
Researchers Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical and Bradley Appelhans of the Rush University Medical Center suggest that diets are all equally good and bad at helping people lose weight. As a personal trainer, I can totally see where they are coming from. Diets may help you lose some weight temporarily, but ultimately they are not going to be the key to long-term weight management.
The difference between a diet and a healthy lifestyle
Maybe you are thinking a diet and a healthy lifestyle are one of the same. But there are some clear differences. A diet focuses on promoting a certain outcome and in most cases that outcome is weight loss. It does this by temporarily changing your eating habits either through the restriction of calories, certain food groups or through the use of certain weight loss tools such as supplements, weight loss teas or juice cleanses.
A healthy lifestyle on the other hand, is a change in a range of habits that helps promote long-term weight control, fitness and overall wellness. This will include managing diet, physical activity, stress and any pre-exiting health conditions. The key word associated with a healthy lifestyle change is long-term. This is not a quick fix solution.
How to spot a fad diet?
If you are like many, you have probably tried a diet at one particularly stage in your life. Maybe you gave the low-carb diet a go. Perhaps you tried the high-carb diet, the Atkins diet, the Zone diet or even the celebrity favourite, the lemon detox diet. Whatever diet you may have tried in the past, chances are they didn’t do much for you long-term.
There are some key things that fad diets all have in common:
There are some foods completely off-limits
A promise of an unrealistic amount of weight loss in a short period of time
Some foods will be referred to as “good” or “bad”
You may have to stock up on a huge amount of products at speciality stores
The claim may be made that you can lose weight without exercise
The plan is only short term
You may need purchase supplements or food substitutes from the diet company themselves.
Why diets fail at helping with long-term weight management
If fad diets really worked, than the global weight-loss industry made up of thousands of brands targeting the venerable wouldn’t be making the incredible amount of money it does. We would all be skinny and look fabulous, right?
In an article published in the American Psychologist journal, researchers of the University of California concluded that diets can help people lose an average of 5-10 percent of body weight within a short period of time. That’s impressive, but the down side to this according to the paper, is that nearly 70 percent of these dieters regain all the weight and some.
Fad diets aren’t sustainable. Restricting yourself of certain foods, having the feeling of always being hungry or feeling deprived is only going to discourage you from maintaining the diet long-term. They also are known to cause health problems including:
Weakness and fatigue
Nausea and headaches
Inadequate vitamin and mineral intake
Researchers Sherry Pagoto and Bradley Appelhans suggest it doesn’t matter what the ‘diet’ is, it is the behavioural piece that is key to maintaining a lifestyle. In fact, they see five significant challenges that people face including:
1. Lack of time to cook or exercise
2. Being too stressed
3. Family members bringing junk food home
4. Not having an exercise partner or feeling awkward exercising
5. Feeling hungry all the time
Pagoto and Appelhans say the ratio of fat to carb to protein isn’t the big issue here. The only consistent fact in all diet studies seems to be that adherence is the element strongly associated with weight loss and better health outcomes.
Why healthy lifestyle changes promote long-term weight management
A 2005 research paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that 20 percent of dieters successfully kept the weight off long-term. Through the review of existing clinical data, they found it was the lifestyle changes the participants made throughout the course of the diet and changes that they then continued to adhere to that help keep the weight off.
These changes included eating breakfast daily, exercising on average of one hour per day, keeping tabs on their weight and maintaining consistent eating patterns throughout the week and on weekends.
Eating healthily becomes a natural habit if you change your lifestyle rather than adhere to a short-term diet. It’s like brushing your teeth. Most of us brush regularly and it has become an easy to sustain habit that is just second nature.
Simple ways you can adopt a healthy lifestyle
1. Set realistic goals
Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. Meeting these goals and regularly reassessing makes weight loss achievable and gives you drive to continue your healthy lifestyle rather than be overcome with disappointment.
2. Keep healthy foods in your house
Don’t keep unhealthy food in the house as temptation. Keep fresh fruit and veggies on hand that you can grab and eat easily. Stock up on wholegrains, healthy proteins and avoid prepacked, processed foods.
3. Maintain a regular exercise program
Find an exercise that you love be it boxing, yoga, HIIT or running. Find something you love and create a regular exercise program around that particular workout.
4. Eat mindfully
Focus on eating your meal without any distractions. Spend time to plate up your meal so it looks appealing, chew slowly and enjoy every mouthful.
5. Eat breakfast
Breakfasts sets you up for the whole day. Research suggests those who wake up and eat are most successfully at losing eight and over 80 percent of people who are able to keep weight off, consume breakfast.
6. Drink water
Ditch the soda and sugary drinks and keep your body hydrated with water. Drinking water aids in keeping your body functioning and releasing the toxins from your system.
7. Include salad or veggies each day
Make an effort to include an array of fresh salad or colourful veggies in your diet every day.
8. Serve up and put leftovers away
Portion out your meal and make an effort to put any leftovers away before you head back for seconds or even thirds!
Creating a healthy lifestyle is something that does take time, but is not hard to do. Over time you will start to see your taste buds and view of food change. You won’t so much desire the big bag of chips but look forward to eating a healthier alternative. It will become natural for you to look after your body and listen to what it needs and wants rather than giving into temptation.