The word "diet" in and of itself has become a bad word. In truth, the word diet very simply means what we consume. With that being said, there are so many weight loss diets, tips, secrets, potions, programs and surefire concoctions out there that it's hard to know when something may genuinely aid weight loss or is truly wishful thinking.
Here are my top 5 diet myths:
As my mom, and probably everyone else's mom, has told them - "If something looks too good to be true, then it probably is." Weight loss is not rocket science or akin to splitting the atom. Never let anyone tell you that it is this complex formula that can only be understood by some individuals on the 4th day of every month and only when the moon is full.
The true hard fact is that weight loss is only achieved in two ways: By consuming less (food, calorie containing beverages, etc.) or by outputting more (increased activity and exercise). That's it.
Standing on your left foot while eating lemons will not make you lose 5 pounds overnight; jumping up and down before bed will not shake 3 pounds loose. You've got to eat less and or be more active. That's the big secret!
Where to start... Although The Biggest Loser is a great show and I too am a fan (love Jillian), every person who needs to lose weight cannot drop 40 pounds in a week. The people on these shows have access to all sorts of things the average Joe does not.
Keep in perspective that the contestants give up their lives (their jobs, their families their hobbies) and do nothing but train, exercise and participate in some sort of activity for a good part of all hours of the day, every day... no exception. Not to mention the dietary changes that are instilled by on-site and on-call dietitians, nutritionists and countless other professionals.
The professional recommended weight loss for individuals is between 1-2 pounds per week. Not nearly as riveting as 40 pounds I know, and far less exciting to watch, but given that most of us cannot vacate our lives for 3 months to become healthier, much more doable.
Remember when you were in grammar school and you thought, "Oh c'mon, I am never going to use this stuff..." Well it's true, you will need basic math to lose weight and here's why.
Weight loss equates to calorie expenditure or reduction (see myth #1). Basically, in order to lose 1 pound of weight, you will need to cut back or expend 3,500 additional calories.
So here's where the math comes in. You will need to assess how many calories you are consuming daily using your products dietary guidelines.
My suggestion is to chart your food for no less than 1 week. Write everything down you consume and then calculate the calories associated. Make no changes for the first week. After that then you can look at where you can make changes objectively.
For example, if I consume 3,300 calories a day and want to lose 5 pounds in 1 month then I need to reduce my calories by 750 each day. (3,300 calories consumed each day x 7 days = 23,100 calories consumed in 1 week. Remember 3,500 calories is needed to lose 1 pound per week so I need 5,250 in caloric deficit to lose 1.5 pounds; 5,250/7 days = 750. 3,300, what I was eating - 750, either through less caloric intake or more activity = a new total of 2,550 calories allowed per day.)
Basic math I know, but there are numerous calorie counting calculators you can find online to help. Once you get the hang of it, you will make your old math teacher proud.
All diet plans are not bad per se. In fact, I do believe that diet plans will help you lose weight... if you follow them. Which diet plan you follow is truly a matter of preference. Of course we hope you put your trust in Diet-to-Go.
My issue with diet plans "guaranteeing" weight loss is not 100% accurate. Anyone can lose weight on a diet plan. The KEY is to then keep the weight off and truthfully most diet plans are not interested in that portion of your success. For many diet plan companies, it's far better to have a repeat customer than one who has moved on to an independent healthy lifestyle.
If your diet plan teaches you nothing while you are on it about making better healthier dietary choices once you have reached your goal, most likely you will regain the weight you have lost. You have, in essence, learned nothing. Someone else told you when to eat, what to eat and perhaps even provided the food to you without any explanation of how this is different from what you were eating or how to incorporate these types of food once your "diet" is over.
Let's face it, no one can diet forever.
I hate to say this, but statistically, no.
Go back to the 3,500 calorie rule. Once you have lost the weight by reducing or outputting 750 calories a day and you reach your goal weight, then what... how will you keep it off? If you go back to your old ways, then you will regain the weight.
Exercise is the key to keeping it off. People who exercise regularly not only lose weight faster, but they are more successful at keeping it off. Exercise will help increase your metabolism for the long haul and help make your body a more efficient machine.
So when you slip (and we all do) it's a slip and not a cliff dive.
Most importantly, exercise can be as easy as walking, but remember in order for it to make an impact it has to be more of, or more difficult than what you were doing before. So, if you were walking a half hour every night and your weight stayed the same, then you will either need to make the walk more difficult (inclines, faster pace) or increase the duration (amount of time ex 45 minutes).
Remember the key to totoal wellness is DIET, FITNESS and ATTITUDE. You can achieve your goals.
Alicia is an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer and a Weight & Lifestyle Management consultant. The owner of Evolution Total Wellness in New York is also the author of "Oscar & Otis, Fat Fighters." For more information, visit www.linkedin.com/in/evolutiontotalwellness.