I started to call this “A Magic Formula For Weight Loss”, but there is really no “magic” involved. I know that many ads on TV, in magazines, and many other places promise that their program, product, pill or potion is THE ultimate means for losing weight. However, weight loss is simple and requires no magic bullet. On the other hand, weight loss is NOT easy, and this is where the problem lies.
The simple solution for weight loss is not easy to follow for most people for one reason or another.
Weight gain occurs when calories eaten exceed calories burned. Weight loss occurs when calories burned exceeds calories eaten. That’s the simple side of the matter.
The hard part is changing one’s lifestyle and restructuring one’s priorities in order to move from the first situation to the other.
Our eating habits have been acquired over a lifetime as has our attitude about activity…er…exercise. No matter how bad those habits and attitudes may be for us, they are comfortable and familiar to us. In some ways, they help define who we are, and it is important for people to know what that definition is. They tend to get very uncomfortable when they begin to shift that understanding and image that they have know for so long.
Making a change in our eating patterns will certainly require a new level of attention to detail that we have never had to reach before. We will have to make new decisions which may seem some sort of denial when compared to what we are used to. We may feel a need to deny ourselves the foods we enjoy, the company we treasure, and the pleasure we derive from the process of eating. To make matters worse, many friends and family members may actually feel rejected or at least uncomfortable when we opt to reject favorite foods or circumstances which may encourage us to eat more than we should or to eat the wrong things.
In addition to the psychological discomfort, we may actually feel ill or just plain hungry. Lack of food in the quantity we are accustomed to can make us anything from uncomfortable to surly to downright mean.
Another complication is that simply restricting foods seldom works for a variety of reasons too varied to go into here. However, cutting calories beyond certain levels is often contra-productive and may actually contribute to ill health and/or later weight gain.
Increasing activity is probably going to be important for healthy weight loss, but, just like exchanging our old bad eating habits for a new lifestyle of healthy eating, there will be physical and psychological obstacles to overcome. In fact, the very idea of having to…well, you know…exercise, can turn people off before they ever actually do it. There is such a strong negative reaction to the idea of “exercise” in some people that some texts on fitness, health, or weight loss will actually go to extremes to avoid using the very word for fear of losing their audience.
Certainly, there ARE possibly going to be some negative results when someone changes their lifestyle to include regular exercise, just as we talked about earlier in the discussion about changing eating habits. Sure, there may be sore muscles, injuries, upset schedules, and uncertainty of results. However, the bigger problem with exercise is that most people either try to do too much too soon, or quit before their body has a chance to begin noticeably showing positive results even though valuable changes are taking place inside out of view. Whether you choose weight lifting, yoga, walking, aerobics, or some other exercise program, your body and psyche will benefit from regular exercise.
To get maximum effective results from a weight loss program combining exercise and proper nutrition, it is necessary to learn a great deal about these subjects and probably make great changes to your normal schedule and behavior. Initially, however, even small lifestyle changes in nutrition and activity, such as cutting out sugar, choosing healthier snacks, cutting down on portion sizes, and getting a walk several times a week can be very effective in helping most people lose weight if the new lifestyle is maintained over a long period of time. Over that time, it may be possible to slowly increase the intensity of the exercise and make additional changes towards a healthy eating lifestyle.
Many people will fall for the pitches of the sellers of fad diets, fast weight loss programs, diet pills, diet supplements, and the latest weight loss secret. However, while some of these may result in small, temporary weight loss for some people, in the long run regular moderate exercise combined with proper nutrition is the only way for most people to achieve healthy, permanent weight loss.