When someone wants to lose weight quickly without putting the necessary effort, or with DIY diets found in magazines, it’s easy to spot the flaws. But what if someone is doing whatever they are told to by a dietitian and still don’t lose weight?
I had dinner at a friend’s house last week, and met her cousin, a very lovely person. Sometimes I think I have a kind of “weight loss magnet,” one way or the other I always end up talking to someone who has or had weight loss problems. This very nice lady in her forties, has been trying to lose weight for 2 years. With the help of a dietitian she’s following a 1200 calorie diet. A friend of hers is with the same dietitian with basically the same diet and is having great results.
She’s very strict, she says, and I believe her: of all the delicious food our host prepared for us, she stuck to salads and chicken with very little bread and one scoop of strawberry ice cream as dessert.
Nonetheless, she confessed that she was starting to feel frustrated, because after an initial fast weight loss, she stopped losing weight, and now she is still with 13 pounds to go. With all the effort she’s putting into it, she thinks she deserves to lose weight quick, and I cannot but agree with her.
I hope she didn’t take it bad, but I suggested her to change dietitian, and for an obvious reason: the diet she’s following is working for her friend but not for her. And the dietitian should be wise enough to see that and do some changes. There cannot be one diet for everyone, I understand that dietitians are not fortune-tellers, but the fact that a weight loss diet is not causing any weight loss, should be a clear sign that it’s time to move on. The second piece of advice I gave to her was to choose her own doctor. Sure, she should ask around, but in the end she should choose for herself. Going to someone else’s doctor is fine when it works, but sticking to it in spite of the clear lack of success, is a subtle way to give up taking responsibility for ourselves.
The magic word in these cases (and she actually named it a couple of times) is “metabolism”. How many times have we blamed it? Me, countless times: I’m not losing weight because I have a low metabolism, or high, or whatever. Sure metabolism exists, but it is often treated as a scapegoat, the cause of all wrongs and frustrations.
My idea about metabolism is now very clear: let’s forget about it. Whatever improves the metabolism can only be a consequence of the two basic rules of a correct lifestyle: eating healthy and in moderation (not too much but not too little), and movement.
Also, for a quick weight loss, the psychological factor is important. I don’t know how “scientific” this is (as I say in my disclaimer, I’m no doctor nor a psychologist), but it proved true for me: frustration is an “emotional toxin” that will keep your metabolism lower no matter what you do.
The energy given by food can be used in a positive way, generating creative energy and joy, or in a negative way, generating stress and depression. But it can also remain completely unused and stagnate, and that’s when it generates fat. There is a number for that: 7000 calories of unused food energy will make you one kg (2.2 lb) fatter.
What I’m trying to say is, if you want to burn calories, and know how to lose weight quickly, you have to move, do stuff. Going to the gym, or jogging is the most popular way to do that, but as a matter of fact, any kind of activity will make you burn calories: going shopping, a stroll in the park, a visit to a museum, playing with your kids, you know, this kind of things. More in general, and this is the most important point, doing these things with a pinch of fantasy, sense of humor and passion, will make your metabolism up to 15-20% faster. There is a word for that: eustress, or positive stress, as opposed to distress, or negative stress.
When you “turn off the lights” and do things only because you have to not because you want to, you are putting your metabolic counter to sleep, accumulating fat. Starting a strict diet may help, but not always. Like in my friend’s cousin’s case, an unhappy diet can set off a vicious circle that increases distress and nervous hunger, leading to weight gain. On the other hand, taking care of ourselves will have the opposite effect: it will set in motion a higher metabolic level, it will make us want to do more exercise, and eat less, as we will find satisfaction in things other than food. With these three things together, a quick weight loss will be the most natural outcome.
Six rules for an effective weight loss
How many effective weight loss programs have you come across before? In my experience, not many. Here are my six rules for an effective weight loss.
1. Lose no more than eight ounces of fat per week. Your body will always try to hold on to its fat and will react to any attempt at losing fat too quickly by slowing down metabolism, increasing fat-storage and appetite. Lowering fat levels little by little allows the body to adjust to small changes without negative reactions.
2. Get bodyfat levels measured every two to three months to ensure you re losing fat and not valuable muscle. Regular weight-training will help maintain muscle strength. This is the magic rule that converts an effective weight loss program into a most effective weight loss program.
3. Avoid saturated fats. Too much carbohydrates or protein actually promote glycogen stores in the muscles and increase the use pf protein or sugar foe fuel. But when excessive saturated fats are eaten, they are simply layered onto hips, thighs and stomach as fat without undergoing any metabolic changes. These types of fat include dairy products, salamis and cured meats, commercially made cakes, biscuits and pastries.
4. Eat mainly complex carbohydrates. Every time you eat simple sugars, especially sugared drinks, blood sugar raises and causes a burst of insulin into the bloodstream. The liver then has to balance this insulin level by converting any excess into fats. The exception to this is during and directly after intensive training or competition. So, in order to keep your insulin production stable, eat complex carbohydrates, which are digested more slowly. Examples are cereals, wholemeal bread, pasta, brown rice, jacket potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables.
5. Eat more fiber. It helps to regulate insulin by slowing down the digestion of sugars and fats. 30-50 grams of fibre per day encourages the body to use food for energy rather than convert it to fat. High-fibre cereals, porridge, wholemeal bread, dried fruit, peas, beans, lentils, fresh fruit and vegetables are all fiber rich.
6. Eat essential fatty acids daily. These types of fat are essential for overall good health and are found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herrings and sardines. Olive oil and flax-seed oils are also good sources. Don’t be scared by the fact that they are “fat.” Even if low calorie foods are essential for Rapid Weight Loss, you won’t need them in great quantities and the body simply needs them.