Home Personal DevelopmentAreas of Life The Mayo Clinic Diet: An Expertly Tailored Weight Loss Approach

The Mayo Clinic Diet: An Expertly Tailored Weight Loss Approach

An image shows an assortment of fruit in the foreground with a doctor writing on a notepad in the background This picture serves as the featured image for Balanced Achievements article on The Mayo Clinic Diet

There is a myriad of reasons why people in the western world choose to lose weight. Some individuals have purely aesthetic motives while others must do so, at the discretion of their doctors, to stay healthy or even to avoid premature death. Most people think they can achieve their desired weight loss goals by simply intaking fewer calories than they’re burning off, usually with the help of fad diets and physical exercise, but there is a bit more to it than that, because a variety of underlying factors play a role in the weight loss process, and the Mayo Clinic Diet will show us why.

When looking at diet and weight loss statistics in the United States, we gain a clearer understanding of why getting to and staying at the ideal weight is much more challenging than we’re led to believe. For example, despite the fact that roughly 50% of Americans are on a diet at any given time and approximately 80% of dieters try to lose weight by following the diet industry’s most popular advice, over 35% of American adults are considered obese and 90-95% of people that actually do lose weight gain it back within one to five years. While these numbers may be disheartening, a revolutionary dietary approach, that was developed at one of the world’s leading medical institutions, is finally giving individuals the tools needed to buck these trends for good.

It was in 2010 when a team of health and nutrition experts, who’d grown fed up with the dietary advice being given to the general public, from the globally acclaimed Mayo Clinic, published their revolutionary weight loss book The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight. Throughout the pages of the New York Times Bestseller, which was written in response to the growing obesity epidemic and the life-threatening issues that accompany it, Mayo Clinic doctors outline a holistic weight loss approach that challenges the status quo of dieting. The book’s lead author Dr. Donald Hensrud introduces us to the Mayo Clinic Diet by telling us:

The Mayo Clinic Diet isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Using clinically tested techniques, it puts you in charge of reshaping your lifestyle by adopting healthy new habits and breaking unhealthy old ones. Why the emphasis on health? Well, Mayo Clinic is a medical institution and good health is our goal. But aside from that, it turns out that a healthy lifestyle is also a great way to lose weight and keep it off. You get better health and better weight. Not a bad deal.”

The Mayo Clinic Diet in a Nutshell:

An image shows the Mayo Clinic Diet Book and accompanying recipe book with a bowl of cereal next to them Since the early decades of the 20th century, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has been lauded for its multi-pronged healthcare approach which brings together groundbreaking research, top-notch education for aspiring doctors and some of the world’s finest quality patient care. Thanks to their ongoing efforts to inspire hope and contribute to the health and well-being of societies near and far, the organization has consistently ranked as one of the best hospitals in America for over 25 years. Consequently, when a team of the hospital’s nutrition experts sought to revolutionize the ways we think about dieting, cumulating in the publication of their highly acclaimed 2010 book, they assuredly did so with the same commitment to excellence that’s made the Mayo Clinic a worldwide name.

Although it was in 1949 when a Mayo Clinic committee on dietetics published the organization’s first dietary book, The Mayo Clinic Diet Manual, it’s been the 2010 publication, which offers a more comprehensive and modernized weight-loss program that can be utilized by all, that’s taken the world by storm. While the Mayo Clinic Diet team, which continues to disseminate dietary information with hopes of helping individuals see through the problems with fad diets and mainstream nutritional trends, certainly isn’t limited to the following three individuals, they are unquestionably some of the most prominent:

  • Dr. Donald Hensrud: An associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine who also serves as the medical director for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. Dr. Hensrud took on the role as lead authored of the New York Times Bestseller and has assisted in the publication of several other books.
  • Dr. Matthew Clark: A clinical health psychologist and professor who chairs the research efforts at the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Psychiatry & Psychology. Dr. Clark has extensive experience studying psychological factors that encourage longterm lifestyle change.
  • Dr. Michael Jensen: A consultant in the Division of Endocrinology & Nutrition and chair of the Mayo Enterprise Obesity Specialty Council. Dr. Jensen research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for over 25 years and he’s published more than 300 scientific papers on topics related to nutrition and fitness.

When designing their now groundbreaking dietary approach, the Mayo Clinic Diet team sought to incorporate their vast medical experience and expertise into a program that could be easily understood by non-scientific thinkers. Undoubtedly, they were able to accomplish this goal by creating a highly customizable two-phased diet that’s based upon the latest nutrition and lifestyle change research. In the Lose It! Phase of the program, dieters get a jumpstart on their weight loss goals, and are able to lose up to ten pounds in just two weeks, by making changes to their daily routine. Then, in the Live It! Phase, they strive to shed any additional unwanted weight in smaller increments as they focus on permanently transforming their habitual lifestyle tendencies. Assuredly, it’s because the approach doesn’t force individuals to rely upon sheer willpower or a one size fits all model, but rather allows them to personalize a plan with delicious food while making gradual progress over time, that so many people have had success with the diet. Dr. Hensrud tells us:

A healthy diet is a plan that works for you – one that includes the right types of foods in the right amounts, in a way that you can enjoy and sustain long term.”

The Lose It! Phase | Changing Habits and Shredding Weight:

An image shows a diagram of the Mayo Clinic Diet Healthy Food Pyramid that plays an Important role in the Mayo Clinic Diet The first phase of the Mayo Clinic Diet, the Lose It! Phase, takes place over a two week period during which individuals can safely yet rapidly shed unwanted weight by focusing their efforts on moving away from the conditioned habits that make losing weight so difficult and replacing them with wholesome alternatives that have been identified as essential for weight loss. For example, individuals are encouraged to eat more vegetables and fruits, exercise more, and enjoy a healthy breakfast while also discontinuing habits such as snacking while watching TV, eating refined sugars, and intaking excessive amounts of alcohol.

While it may seem difficult to transform numerous habitual behaviors, that have been developing and strengthening for years, in just two weeks, the Mayo Clinic Diet program makes this process much simpler with a variety of expertly tailored practices such as habit tracking and fitness planning.

It’s also in the Lose It! Phase when individuals first learn about the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Weight Food Pyramid (pictured above) which recommends the types and amounts of foods dieters should eat on a daily basis. While the food pyramid, in addition to detailed meal plans and serving size suggestions, takes on a more significant role in the second phase of the diet, individuals aim to more broadly follow the outlined dietary guidelines during the first two weeks of the program and are told to focus on consuming more foods at the bottom of the pyramid than the top.

Finally, before moving into the second phase of the diet, individuals are told to assess their progress and feelings about their efforts, decide on a realistic way to move forward, and record how their body reacted to changes they’ve made over the program’s first 14 days. Although these reflective practices may seem unimportant, they undoubtedly are one of the main reasons the Mayo Clinic Diet is so effective as they help individuals tune into their minds, bodies and habits in a way that provides the knowledge needed to make weight loss permanent.

We don’t supply a lot of specific guidelines. People are used to counting calories and doing all sorts of things. Don’t make it any harder than it has to be. Just follow the habits and do as many as you can. You’ll be amazed at how much you can eat because you’ll actually be eating less calories. Just making qualitative changes and following the habits will help you achieve the results you want.”

The Live It! Phase | Permanently Transforming Your Lifestyle:

An image shows a variety of healthy foods spread on a table with a number of meal plans The Mayo Clinic Diet is largely effective because it helps individuals creating a dietary plan with healthy meaning planning After completing the first two weeks of the program, individuals are then ready to proceed into the Mayo Clinic Diet’s Live It! Phase where they’ll aim to integrate the habit changes they made in the first phase into their lives on a more permanent basis. To make a smooth transition from phase one to phase two, dieters are asked to take on a more active role in outlining a diet and fitness plan that brings about both enjoyment and better health. While striving to lose additional unwanted weight is still a goal of this phase, which isn’t bound by a specific length of time, what’s most important is for individuals to transform their lifestyles so they’re able to keep the pounds off longterm.

Where as dieters strive to more broadly follow the food pyramid recommendations in The Lose It! Phase of the program, they’ll aim to take things a step further in the Live It! Phase by developing personalized goals that take into account everything from food choices and portion sizes to body type and genetical makeup. Beyond being given a motivational push from the weight they already lost in phase one, the Mayo Clinic experts help individuals shift into phase two by providing hundreds of recipes, meal plans and recommendations for the ideal number of calories and amount of daily physical exercise one should aim for. Of the Mayo Clinic Diet’s second phase, Hensrud tells us:

In this phase, you’re focusing on a lifestyle change. You’ll be taking the habits from Lose It!, learning some new skills, and developing long-term lifestyle changes in diet, physical activity, and behaviors that will help you not only lose weight until you reach your weight goal, but also help you feel better and improve your overall health. The more you can tailor this plan for yourself, the more success you’ll have.”

Supplemental Strategies to Increase Your Chances for Weight-Loss Success:

An image shows a weight scale on a wooden floor While making wholesome changes to your diet and permanently transforming your habits serve as the foundational strategies of the Mayo Clinic Diet, as they do for all effective dietary programs, there are a wide variety of other supplementary practices and a seemingly endless amount of useful health advice that can greatly increase your chances for accomplishing your weight loss goals. For this reason, we’ve included some additionally powerful strategies and tips here, from both the Mayo Clinic Diet experts and other prominent health figures coming from different schools of thought, that can greatly assist you in your weight loss efforts:

Enjoyable Exercise: Because burning calories is essential to losing weight and maintaining a wholesome level of physical health, it’s widely assumed that exercise should be a vital part of any dietary plan. While many diet and weight loss programs employ a push-it-to-the-limits mentality, however, the most knowledgable experts advocate for creating a sustainable fitness routine, that’s neither too difficult nor too easy, with activities you genuinely enjoy partaking in.

Mindful Eating: Over the past decade the practice of mindful eating has become one of the most powerful approaches for effectively losing weight. It’s certain that by becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings related to eating and brining present-moment awareness with you to the table, you’ll be able to transform your relationship with food, lose weight and vastly improve your health.

Stimulus Control: One of the behavioral strategies that can particularly aid the weight loss process is that of stimulus control. While it may seem that relying upon this simple practice, which tells us that we won’t struggle with the temptations of unhealthy foods if we remove them from our home and other places we spend time, is too good to be true, research has shown that stimulus control is an effective weight-loss tool.

Dealing with Setbacks: Due to the fact that we’ll inevitably slip up and revert to our old habits as we’re attempting to recreate our lifestyle with wholesome new alternatives, it’s additionally important to point out that how we deal with setbacks will largely determine our longterm chances for weight loss success. While obstacles, challenges, and failures cause all too many individuals to quit on their goals, our ability to hit the marks we set ultimately will come down to our propensity to take missteps in stride and use them as opportunities to learn and grow.

Despite the fact that the diet industry leads us to believe that we’ve got to will ourselves to lose any unwanted weight, and suffer along the way, the truth is that we’ll be much more likely to succeed by making small and simple changes to our diet and habits over time. Whether you choose to invest in the Mayo Clinic Diet or not is a decision you’ll have to make, but it should now be clear to see that the program has shown to be so effective largely because it allows individuals to make gradual progress while they target the underlying factors that make losing weight so hard. Ultimately, what this means for those of you who are setting out to drop a few pounds, or are already in the mist of a frustrating weight loss journey, is that it’ll be vital to strategically proceed with understanding and patience while also looking beyond calories and fitness levels. The Mayo Clinic Diet book reminds us:

Physical symptoms, emotions, social pressure, conditioned thining, lack of awareness, and other factors influence behaviors. To lose weight, you need to target those underlying factors, not just what you eat or do.”

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