If you are thinking that you have failed if you lost weight and then gained it back again, do not be hard on yourself. The very nature of dieting lends itself to weight loss and weight gain.
If you stepped back and looked at how you spend your day, what would you see? Most of us see a fairly predictable routine, with a few unexpected but manageable events peeking into our routine on most days.
In essence, most of our lives are built around habits. Some are very conscious habits while others may be things we haven’t given much thought to but we do them every day nonetheless.
Learn how habits may be the biggest indicator of weight and lifelong health.
You may have heard of a woman starting a weight loss regimen with a male companion, and with both doing essentially the same things - eating well, hydrating and exercising - the man initially loses significantly more weight than the woman. It doesn’t seem fair, but there is a physiological reason for this.
If you’re a man, you can thank the hormone testosterone -- and the low amount estrogen you do have -- for your weight-loss edge. On average, women have between six and 11 percent more body fat than men, all built in for anticipated child-bearing.
I worked with a couple recently where both wanted to learn to eat well and lose weight. They had been fast food diners. His job required physical activity; hers was sedentary. They enrolled in my 6 Weeks to Diet Freedom on line program and we had weekly coaching calls. At the end of week 1, both were eating well, following my recommendations. She lost 1 pound. He lost a whopping 11 pounds! The difference? testosterone for sure, but also he was very overweight and had more to lose. Just stopping his 3-4 cans of soda surely made a difference not only in his weight but in his health.
What a study in England found, though, that the weight loss evens out after 6 months when both men and women continue the regimen.
The Magic of Muscle Mass
Here’s what’s most important to me: every pound of muscle you have in your body burns 38 calories per day. Every pound of fat old requires 9 calories per day. Men, on the whole, have more lean muscle mass, so that’s what gets the weight loss engines running initially for men. My sense is that as women continue to exercise through their weight loss program, they slowly build more muscle mass, allowing for more weight loss.
Adults begin to naturally lose muscle mass around age 38. Several factors account for that: a more sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and poor diet. If you don’t consciously work at maintaining muscle mass, you will gain weight, because your calorie burning muscle mass is decreasing, even if you don’t increase your food intake. The good news is you will not struggle with weight gain if you eat high nutrient low calorie foods and exercise throughout life.
Reaching your goals in isolation requires enormous discipline. Most of the people I work with on nutrition and lifestyle issues know that, and realize that when accountability and positive support is available, they do better. My program offers individualized coaching for those who feel they need in person support, and online coaching for those who need tools like menus, shopping lists, recipes and motivation to reach their goals. You can read more about both on my Wellness and You Programs page.
Eating healthy is the best way to manage your weight and your hunger.
See what NY Times writer Jane Brody says about her experience with dieting, and how everything changed when she began to eat healthy.
If you are someone who lost excess weight and kept it off, how did you do it? Have you adapted new habits? Do you stress less about weight than you used to before you learned how to keep it off? Do you feel better?
As a health coach, I study all aspects of nutrition, including weight loss. There are many factors that enter into success or failure for anyone seeking to lose weight.
Secrets That You Need to Know
- You are unique. All aspects of your life story matter when you make a plan to lose weight. A one size fits all does not work with weight loss.
- The proportion of fat and muscle in your body influences the amount of food that’s right for you. Fat/muscle ratio affects your metabolic rate. Muscle is lost when weight loss is rapid, so don't try crash diets.
- The number of hours you go without eating may affect your weight. You should have a minimum of 12 hours of not eating to burn stored fat and better regulate your body’s hormones.
- Learn to LOVE YOUR BODY. It’s very hard to eat healthy and take care of yourself if you hate your body. Stop criticizing your body and honor it as if it’s a temple. You’ll treat it better when you do.
- Be patient. No one gains their extra weight at one time; it is a gradual process that sometimes spans decades. When you decide to lose weight, focus on your improved eating habits and how they make you feel. Consistent healthy eating will trim the excess pounds.
What I Recommend as Essential Practices for a Healthy Weight
- Move your focus away from the scale and calorie counting and focus on eating well and eating with awareness.
- Eating well means eating simple whole foods, mainly organic, that you prepare at home
- Eating with awareness means consciousnly enjoying the experience of eating and noticing when you have had enough.
- Hydration is an important factor in weight management. You should take your present body weight, divide it in half, and drink that many ounces of water, herbal tea and other liquids each day. It not only hydrates your body, it also gives you a feeling of fullness and supports regular bowel movements.