We live in an instant gratification world where we rarely have to wait for anything, so why should weight loss be any different? For those who want instant results they are prone to believe anything, hence the success of Crazy Diets that promise fast results. Want to shed some extra pounds quickly? Bad idea for your health but you may get the figure you need for that special event or date. To many of us look for short term gains. Short term gains usually are very costly in the long term. Look at the economy! Dieting is no different. Any diet that promises instant, quick or fast results is probably a bad idea. Remember the Cabbage diet? Or the Steak diet? Nothing to the extreme is a good thing. True dieting takes time, commitment and desire, often they also require you change the way you view hunger and food. Do you eat to live or live to eat? The answer is important to understanding yourself and finding a way to manage your weight.
At some point most of us live to eat. The reasons are plentiful why we do this, age, boredom, stress, complacency, excuses, self-pity, frustration, or simply because you love to! Did you notice how most of the reasons in that list were… negative? When we are involved in something we enjoy we tend to forget we are hungry. Funny isn’t it? Most hunger stems from two things, the first is boredom/stress the second is dehydration. You see the human body cannot (has a hard time) distinguish between hunger and thrist. So your first step should be to have a glass of water the next time you feel you *have to* eat something. If you are still hungry (15-20 minutes later) then you probably should eat something.
Moderation. We have all heard ‘everything in moderation’ and while there is some truth to that it seems, well like a load of garbage. Yes, yes I understand how it intended but how do people use it? People use it as an excuse for that next candy bar or piece of cake. “Well I am only having a little…” which often turns into a relative statement. The piece of cake was small “relative to the entire cake”! What I am saying is that moderation statement can to often be used as an excuse to ‘cheat’. How quickly would we attain things in life if everything was done in moderation? That 1500 mile drive might take 5 days! How long would it take you to get your Black Belt?! Life is filled with excess, we work to much and play to hard, but think about what you remember? Do you remember the moderate times or the extreme times? Do you remember that refreshing 1 mile run or do you remember that sense of exhaustion and triumph from your first 7 mile run? We humans live for those extreme moments. But there is safety to consider. Yes it is extreme to base jump without a parachute but also incredible stupid and short sighted! If we are going to get into shape we want to push our limits without causing damage that will prevent us from continuing. As a martial artist our training teaches us to push our limits, to go farther and do more then we thought we were capable of, getting in shape is no different. Yes I am for safety and I am still vehemently opposed to fast/fad/crazy diet techniques but let us keep the whole moderation thing in check. Can an alcoholic moderate their way to sobriety, one drink a day Johnnie! Similarly, is it so any easy to stop at one Oreo when there is a whole bag sitting there? For many the answer is no, because two or three is still considered moderation. The question is why? For many people, myself included, it is because we never learned portion control. Our access to food is to easy, to convenient. We are very fortunate but that fortune has to some extent turned into a problem.
Health before moderation. Like the ‘Common Cold’, there is no ‘Miracle’ diet that will help you transform your body. If there were we would all be athletes, fitness instructors, and swimsuit models! Some of us are fortunate to be born with good genes that predispose us to “thinness” some are not. Regardless of your body shape or size there is your health to consider. The first thing you need to do is get the magazine images out of your head, that is not real and not realistic for normal people (all not normal people should seek a different blog, this blog is for normal people with lives). People tend to put the cart before the horse, they are concerned with the image in the mirror, they should be concerned with how they feel. Perhaps that is because we use the term “Getting into Shape”. First set a non-weight specific goal for yourself, like run a mile or climb 5 flights of stairs without getting winded. If you do this the weight will take care of itself. Watching your weight will lead to overeating, you will get discouraged and go back to your old ways doing this, you will set yourself up to fail. Often when you start working out you will gain weight. Yes, because your body has a memory and when you increase your activity and decrease your eating your body thinks…”Oh My God! We aren’t getting enough to meet the demand!!” That is the game plan but your body doesn’t get it right away. You are also prone to retain water at first again because your body thinks there is a need. After a few days or more your body will realize you have enough food and water and go back to doing its job and stop interfering.
Wow, I’ve gone off track here but hopefully it has been beneficial. Back to Fad diets. In case you still aren’t convinced… Using Fad diets can actually make you gain weight. Read that last paragraph again, that’s right because your body thinks you are starving and will want to store up some fat in case it happens again. Moreover fad diets tend to mess up your metabolism. Certain fad diets can have adverse effects on almost every organ in your body, especially your heart and nervous system. Why? Because many starve your body of the nutrients it gets from a normal, well balanced diet. Fad diets can lead to nutritional imbalances (like anemia, etc.), Electrolyte disorders, increased risk of disease, adverse effects on the nervous system, metabolism, etc.. For those of you who repeatedly turn to fad diets your oscillating weight (repetitive cycles of weight gain and weight loss followed by weight gain and) usually has a negative impact on overall longterm health. Literature shows a 70% increase risk of heart disease and negative effect on long-term metabolism. Women are also at risk of osteoporosis through lower intake of dietary calcium. Frequent events of oscillating weight can have similar effects as eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. The way to avert these negative health effect is *duration*. You have to stick to it and improve your health (and in the process your weight) for the duration. No moderation there!
The science behind Fad diets are pretty simple, they are usually centered on increased fat and protein consumption while significantly reducing or completely cutting out carbohydrates. The lack or reduced carbohydrates bring about rapid weight loss. This rapid weight reduction is due to the loss of water in stored glycogen is only temporary. Your fats are still present and when you stop the fad diet, your body regains the water it lost. Weight is put back on as fast as it was lost. We need carbohydrates as they are a major source of energy for work. Fad diets seek to remove that source so your body will start using stored fat, breaking it down. This sounds like a great way to get rid of excess fat but it is not. Without carbohydrates fats cannot be completely oxidized and put to work for your body.
Another unspoken danger of fad diets is muscle loss. When you starve (even perceived) your body the last thing it consumes is your fat. If you are not actively making muscle that means that your body will consume muscle before fat! In a previous article I spoke to the importance of creating muscle to burn fat. Building muscle will turn consumption more quickly to the fat you wish to lose. Here is where that word moderation comes into play. You need to get your body adjusted to the new life style you are creating. You do not want to throw your body into shock! Ease into at a reasonable pace, moderate your progress in an honest fashion to keep yourself moving forward. For many I highly recommend seeking professional help in the form of a good Person Trainer…or Sensei!
Keep reading and as always… Train Hard, Stay Safe and Have Fun!
Warning! Before starting a diet you should first have a complete medical examination (check-up), and according to the results, we follow a diet and exercise plan that meets our needs.