In the food and diet industries, there are many long-held secrets that make the game of losing weight, and keeping it off, one that is extremely difficult to win. Only with an accurate understanding of the weight loss process can individuals avoid the seemingly endless number of deceptive promises made by professionals in these fields and finally reach their ideal weight. While a snack company may promote a ‘healthier’ option with half the calories, a book may promise a plan to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, and industry ‘experts’ promote fad diets as being the best strategies for getting in shape, the truth is that there is only one surefire way to lose weight.
Regardless of if you are only hoping to lose a few extra pounds or have been advised to lose upwards of 20, your success will solely come down to one thing. To turn into the person you want to be physically and enjoy the immense benefits that come with it, you’ll have to heed the advice of celebrated behavioral scientist Steve Maraboli:
The healthy life: It’s not just about losing the weight: it’s about losing the lifestyle and mindset that got you there.”
What Statistics Tell Us About Weight Loss:
Health, weight loss, and diet statistics in the United States paint a somber picture of a society that collectively needs to shed pounds, yet remains incapable of doing so. Today, it is estimated that over two-thirds of American adults (68.8%) are considered overweight, and over one-third (35.7%) are considered obese. Strangely enough, it is many of these very citizens who supply the weight loss and diet industries with over $60 billion each year, as it is estimated that roughly 50% of Americans try to lose weight annually. Furthermore, the majority of this 50% attempt to lose weight by making drastic changes to their diet, instead of using alternative methods such as aesthetic medicine.
With the sheer number of dieters and the amount of money being spent, one would assume that there would be some inevitable weight loss success. This, however, isn’t the case and it is estimated that 90-95% of people who lose weight will regain their lost pounds within 1-5 years.
It is sad to think that many important health secrets remain out of plain sight only because statistics such as these keep over $60 billion annually flowing through the diet and weight loss industries. Unfortunately, it seems as though the leaders in these fields care very little about the immensely negative effects that their lack of nutritional transparency and their unwillingness to change food choice ingredients plays on our society’s collective well-being.
Lifestyle Changes & Neuroplasticity is The Only Way:
As health and diet statistics show, much of the mainstream dietary and weight loss advice is ill-advised and only provides individuals with a temporary solution to drop a few pounds. If you or someone you know is hoping to lose weight and keep it off over the long term, then permanent lifestyle and behavioral changes will have to occur. As you probably know, however, these changes are never easy to initiate.
The truth is that in order to lose weight and keep it off, individuals will not only have to create dietary and behavioral changes but also focus their attention on rewiring neurological circuits in their brains. The only surefire way to lose weight is by changing an individual’s underlying beliefs about, and attitudes towards, food and physical fitness. Fortunately, it is now widely known that humans have the ability to replace outdated habits with more beneficial ones through the process of neuroplasticity.
Just as it is important to understand that in order to permanently lose weight, individuals will have to create changes in conditioned neurological circuits in their brains, it is equally important to know that these shifts only occur gradually over time. The notion that within 30 days individuals can lose 30 pounds, and keep it off, is nonsensical because it isn’t possible to undo years of conditioning in such a short period of time.
With this being said, it should now be clear to see that if true weight loss is what you are after, then you’ll have to commit yourself to gradually changing your lifestyle at the dietary and behavioral levels while transforming your attitudes and beliefs about nutrition and health at the neurological level.
Prioritize Dietary Changes Over Physical Fitness:
In the simplest of terms, the process of losing weight boils down to one’s ability to burn more daily calories than they consume over a lengthy period of time. While there is little debating the fact that both diet and exercise are considered to be vital components of any weight loss plan, individuals should prioritize changing their eating habits over physical fitness routines because cutting calories is much easier than burning them off. Shawn Talbott, a celebrated author and nutritional biochemist, tells us:
An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart… It’s much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For example, if you eat a fast-food steak quesadilla, which can pack 500-plus calories, you need to run more than four miles to ‘undo’ it!”
While cutting back on calories, especially the ones with no nutritional benefit will be key for your weight loss plan, a physical fitness strategy shouldn’t be abandoned. When we add regularly scheduled exercise to a health-conscious diet, you will raise your metabolic rate and lose weight faster. Moreover, regular physical fitness will provide you with increased levels of energy, heighten cognitive abilities, and a more sculpted figure.
Let’s now look at some dietary and fitness guidelines that you should take into account when constructing a weight loss plan:
- Reduce and limit your intake of foods with added sugar. Aim to consume no more than 30 grams per day.
- Reduce your total fat consumption to no more than 30% of your energy intake each day. Shift away from both saturated fats (fatty meats, butter, cheese, milk) and trans fats (deserts, friend foods, chips, ice-cream), instead favoring the unsaturated kind (nuts, seeds, olives, oils).
- Reduce sodium consumption to no more than 1,500 mg per day.
- Consume the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (5-9 servings).
- Increase your intake of legumes (lentils, beans) and whole grains (wheat, brown rice, oats).
- Replace drinks high in calories with water.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
- Find creative ways to build physical fitness into your daily routine.
- Search for fitness activities that you find enjoyable.
- Reduce the amount of time you spend sitting each day.
While these recommendations and guidelines may seem unattainable, depending upon your current lifestyle and goals, it’s important to keep in mind that these targets are long-term objectives that should be gradually worked towards. The most important thing for the majority of individuals who want to lose weight is to just get on the path toward permanent weight loss.
Useful Strategies & Tools for Permanent Lose Weight:
There are seemingly endless numbers of weight loss strategies that we can use, however, many of them fail to address the changes that must take place at the neurological level. Here, we will review five surefire tools that will put you on the path towards losing weight and keeping it off, but before we do, it is important to point out that the process of change, regardless of the behavior or habit, is one that is often lengthy and typically filled with setbacks. As you are working to permanently lose weight, be prepared for resistance and the inevitable missteps. In situations when you are unable to follow your plan, it will be vital to offer yourself forgiveness and acceptance before quickly refocusing your energy so that you don’t allow one or two bad days to spin out of control. Now, let’s explore five of the most potent weight lose strategies and tools:
Self-Monitoring & Planning:
At the core of any legitimate weight lose plan should be the practices of self-monitoring and planning. Only by becoming aware of the habitual behavioral patterns the prohibit you from reaching your desired weight will you be able to reach your goals. There are a number of useful self-monitoring practices, including calorie counting and journal keeping, that can help you stay the course. Additionally, planning meals and physical fitness activities ahead of time can help you resist the temptation to grab the quickest food options and overcome your conditioned behavioral patterns.
This psychological behavioral practice is based upon the notion that individuals will act a certain way when a given stimulus is in their environment yet a completely different way when it is not. When making a plan to lose weight, stimulus control can help individuals resits temptations for their favorite unhealthy food and snacks by removing it from their environments altogether. If a plate of deserts isn’t on your kitchen counter, or there isn’t ice cream in your freezer, the chances that you indulge in them becomes quite slim.
Increase Your Understanding of Food:
In the introduction of this article, we briefly touched on the health secrets that many diet and weight loss experts would like to remain quiet. By committing yourself to expand your knowledge of food, however, you can discover the truths that they don’t want the general public to know. There are a wide variety of ways that you can increase you knowledge of food which all will help you permanently lose weight. You may want to learn how to cook a few healthy meals, make the commitment to fully understand packaged food labels, and expand your dietary preferences by exploring cuisine from around the world that is unfamiliar to you.
Use the Power of Intention & Attention to Change Your Diet:
To aid you in the process of changing your diet, you can use the power of intention and attention. To do so, you would first want to cultivate the intention to permanently transform your eating habits and then persistently focus your attention on both the positives and negatives that will come from the change. Using the strategy of intention and attention will largely come down to creating painful associations with your negative eating habits and positive associations with life-affirming foods.
Find Enjoyable Fitness Activities:
Finding physically strenuous activities that you wholeheartedly enjoy is without question the best way to ensure you are meeting your fitness goals. When you are able to exercise while actually enjoying the activity, the fitness component of your weight loss plan won’t be difficult to maintain. If you don’t have a particular activity that you really like, you may want to try some of the things that are enjoyed by the masses. Hiking, yoga, swimming, dancing, and trail running are a few that come to mind. Moreover, if you live in the mountains or near a body of water, your list of potentially enjoyable fitness activities expands to include things like wakeboarding, surfing, skiing, and snowshoeing.
It should now be clear to see that the weight loss process is one that is greatly misunderstood. If you want to lose weight, it’ll be vital to not only change your lifestyle and habits but also the deeply conditioned beliefs underneath these things. By using the tools and strategies provided here, you will not only be on your way towards transforming your lifestyle and beliefs but also towards a more healthy and permanent weight.