The latest study shows that two out of three adults are heavy or obese. Many of these people will eventually go on a diet.
Yet a shocking 95 percent of them will fail.
The biggest reason they will fail is because they will rely on a gimmick to lose weight. After they have lost several pounds they will consider themselves “better.” They are not.
They should have tried a practical weight loss strategy instead.
Here’s what you need to know to approach a lower-calorie diet in a practical way:
1. You Can’t Go from Melissa McCarthy to Beyonce Overnight
Every woman wishes she could look like Beyonce. Tomorrow.
It will not happen overnight. Ever.
Here’s why: It is virtually impossible to lose more than a pound or a pound and one-half per week over many weeks and expect to keep it off. Of course, in the first week of modest calorie deprivation, no matter what method you use, the average dieter will lose an easy 3 to 5 pounds. (I have previously reported the reason here.)
However, since it takes a 3,500 calorie savings below your average daily maintenance to lose one real pound via diet and exercise, the arithmetic shows that losing more than a pound and a half consistently is very difficult.
That means it will take four to five months to lose and keep off 20 to 30 pounds.
A Beyonce body will take even longer.
2. Set a Reasonable Goal
The first step you should take before dieting is to set a reasonable goal. Too many people are influenced by the wild claims they see on the internet and TV or in magazines.
You simply cannot lose 30 pounds in 30 days and have any hope of keeping it off. Even fifteen pounds in a month is very difficult and requires too much deprivation to be effective long-term. As soon as that deprivation phase is over, you will re-eat your way slowly but surely back to where you started.
Why? Because by going on a crash diet you don’t learn anything about smarter eating habits.
There is no magic herb, no secret formula, no ancient tea and no special powder that can overcome the fact that there are no shortcuts for losing weight.
Instead, you should get a calendar, mark a date and hope to achieve a pound per week loss.
If you find that you aren’t able to make your goal at some point, just add a few months but don’t give up.
3. Don’t Be Obsessed With the Health Craze
Everyone wants to be healthy. In fact, there is such a national craving to be healthy that every food manufacturer and beverage maker is taking advantage of it. They leverage their products’ phony healthiness despite any medical evidence to back it up.
Cereal, a product made entirely of carbohydrates, even when there is a lot of added sugar, never has a fat content higher than virtually zero. The manufacturers know that but they still advertise it as “No-fat!”
Similarly, meats, all of them, are made out of protein and some fat. Yet there are some products that advertise themselves as “No CARBS!”
There are many deceptive claims that can draw in desperate dieters. Labels like “Heart-healthy” “Low-Fat” or “Nutritious” may lead you to believe that they are low-calorie when they are not.
When in doubt, check the label.
4. Everyone Has a Weakness; Embrace Yours to Conquer It!
Every overweight person has a weakness. It might be chocolate, potato chips or ice cream. Or any other so-called comfort food.
Comfort foods are the ones that make you feel “good.” Comfort foods also destroy diets. Tough day at work, eat comfort food. Child is sick, reach for your comfort food. Upset about your weight, grab your comfort food. You know it is wrong but you find it impossible to stay away from them over an extended period of time.
Is there a better way?
In fact, there is. Instead of trying to quit your comfort food cold turkey, learn how to ration it instead.
Say you are hooked on potato chips. You are not alone; a lot of people are. Instead of giving up potato chips completely, which is impossible, accept your weakness and embrace it. Learn to ration it instead. Allow yourself a certain portion every day, a bowlful or five ounces or some other moderate amount and when it is gone, you are done until tomorrow.
Then try to give yourself two comfort-free days per week. The calorie savings will be enormous and you will feel better as you control your addiction.
5. Avoid Free Range Eating
The worst habit you can have is free-range eating. That is what it is called when you don’t take a portion of food onto a plate or into a bowl. Free range eating is like taking seconds, thirds and fourths without realizing it because you haven’t taken your first helping.
A much better way is to take a helping of food onto a plate and eat it. Only when you are done with that one are you allowed to consider getting more. Most of the time your initial helping will be enough.
One example of bad free-range eating is eating from the bag of potato chips, or pretzels, or ice cream container. You are doomed to overeat them if you don’t use a plate.