It’s frustrating for more people, difficult for all – but losing weight, or more correctly fat, is necessary for more than half of our population. They are redoing most seats in the sports stadiums – installing wider ones for broader beams. The auto industry famous crash test dummy began its sacrificial life at 170 lbs. and was recently revised to reflect the new average at 270 lb.
That is a sad commentary on what has happened in 40 years. The media talks about terrorist threats to the western world – forget it. It’s the corner store and all-you-can-eat buffet that is doing us in. I was at an all-inclusive resort when I thought I felt there was an earthquake. It turned out to be a busload of new arrivals in a dead run for the buffet.
Failing weight loss is mostly about making common mistakes or following lousy advice while not following good advice. We tend to take the easy way – not often the right way. Here are the Ten Sins of Dieters:
1. Inadequate sleep. We need eight hours of sleep – uninterrupted deep REM sleep. People who get less than six hours of sleep nightly have higher stress hormones, leading to increased appetite and an increased ability to store calories as fat.
2. Getting less sleep to get to the gym while eating fewer calories leads to losing more muscle than fat and setting you up for failure. Get some rest, and don’t starve yourself!
3. Failing to manage stress. Stress is a massive contributor to weight gain, and it often is in concert with less sleep and lack of energy to exercise. If you have an eating and exercise plan, you also benefit from a stress management plan.
4. Believing that all food is created equal. A brownie and a banana may be 100 calories, but that means nothing. Highly processed foods with high sugar levels damage the body compared to food rich in fibre and micro-nutrients. Stop counting calories. It will drive you nuts – enjoy your food and eat sensibly
5. Skipping meals. Research has repeatedly shown that lean people eat more frequent meals than obese people. The idea is to spread the calories around and have fruit and veggies between meals.
6. Fasting helps you lose weight. It’s simply not true – yes, you may drop some water weight, but you will consume the same number of calories over a shorter period which is the opposite of what you should do.
7. Getting frustrated by not seeing overnight results is a common trap. Rome did not fall apart in a few years, and it can take years of effort to get to where you want to be. If you have increased your exercise level, you are building muscle as well, so that two-pound weight loss over three months, maybe 12 pounds of fat loss in conjunction with a gain of 10 pounds of calorie-burning muscle.
8. Making the weigh scale your most frequent routine. Quit. Stop it. Put the scale in the bin. It is mentally unhealthy to weigh yourself and get fixated on a number. This is especially true if you are ramping up the exercise as muscle weighs more than fat, and the increased muscle mass can make it seem that you are not winning the battle of the bulge. Nothing could be further from the truth. Muscle is your salvation.
9. Calculating your ideal weight from Body Mass Index. While not a bad tool, on its own, it can be misleading. BMI would rate Arnold as overweight at 6’2 and 230 lbs. But the guy had a 56-inch chest and a 34-inch waist. However, if you take the waist to hip ratio in conjunction with BMI, you get a better picture of your ideal weight. Putting on fat around the middle is a significant health risk regardless of your height or fitness levels.
10. And finally, the greatest sin of all: the belief that doing a considerable amount of exercise will, on its sole merits, get you to your goals. As a trainer, I can tell you that 70% of the reason clients succeed is not what they do in the gym or hitting the trails – it is what they put on the table, managing stress and getting adequate sleep deal-breaker.
Suppose you have committed any of the 10 sins above. In that case, your penance is walking 30 minutes after dinner, eating an apple, one orange, and one avocado a day, never skipping breakfast and always letting your spouse have the remote control 50% of the time. May fitness be with you.
Ron Cain is the owner of Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.