A miracle diet for weight loss; wouldn’t that be amazing!? How wonderful it would be if we could click on the pop-up advertisements clogging our Facebook (twitter, emails, etc, etc) and find an easy answer to getting the lean, toned, healthy, body we all aspire for!
If it was REALLY that easy would we be facing a Global obesity epidemic? The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2014 more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight (39%) with 600 million (13%) obese. Obesity is preventable- but there is no denying it, losing weight is hard.
So, the question remains, what is the best strategy for losing weight? There are so many ‘diets’ out there, where do we start?
Losing weight involves eating fewer calories than you are burning in any given day. To lose 1lb of body weight, you need a deficit of 3500 calories. There are so many promoted diets out there all of which claim to do something the others do not. In 2014, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study comparing the most commonly used diets (Atkins, Ornish, South Beach, Zone, Biggest Loser, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weightwatchers, Rosemary Conley). This was large meta-analysis (compilation of 48 published studies) which included 7286 individuals. The results demonstrated that all diets resulted in weight loss with no one diet providing a huge benefit over any others.
While there is some evidence an emphasis on certain food types may help you eat less (ex. protein and low glyceamic index diets increasing satiety), the overall message is that all diets which restrict calories result in weight loss.
So, where does this leave us? What is the best ‘diet’ or best approach to losing weight?
Firstly, I hate the word ‘diet’ used in this context (going on a ‘diet’). It implies that losing weight has a finite time scale; you lose the weight, stop the ‘diet’, and go back to living your life the way you did pre-‘diet’ but weighing 10 lbs lighter. Anyone who has tried a diet knows that this is not the case. Returning to pre weight loss dietary habits results in you returning to pre diet body weight. You need to think of your diet as a lifelong commitment to eating in a certain way. Your diet is not just about losing weight but also about achieving the maximum health benefit from your food.
If you are considering making some changes to lose weight, I assume you are concerned about your health. If that is the case (and I certainly hope so!), there is more to consider than just reducing calories. You also need to be thinking about making the calories you eat ‘count’. Food is about so much more than energy. The vitamin, minerals, and unknown substances in food have the potential to affect many other aspects of health. You want to make sure the foods you are eating are nutrient dense (high in vitamins and minerals). This is where vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy oils become important.
With every turning of the season comes the feeling of change. If you are like me, summer meant vacations, kids off school, a more relaxed time schedule…and a much more relaxed approach to fitness. Surely a day sitting by the swimming pool with the kids constitutes a workout, right? It sure was exhausting. Back to work post-vacation? Hot summer days leave much less energy for that after-work exercise session. And let’s be honest, sometimes you just need a bit of a break.
Now, with September right around the corner, it’s time to get back into (gym) gear! Now if you have taken a lot of time off and are feeling quite despondent at the idea of ‘re-visiting’ your fitness goals, take a look at my previous blog, How do we get started?, and realize you are NOT alone.
Once again, you have to sit back and reflect on WHY you have decided to get moving, eat healthier, and/or just attempt to improve your overall wellness. Is it to feel better? For your children? To fit back into your jeans which have been tucked away all summer? Whatever it is, make sure you don’t lose sight of it.
Having trained as a dancer from the age of 5, there have been very few periods in my life that I can remember which didn’t include physical activity. We won’t talk about my first year of university (and first year post dance training). I mean, what freshman doesn’t consider dancing at the bar on a Saturday night sufficient physical activity for the week?!
Anyway, I thought I would share a few things that work for me when it comes to exercise and keeping motivated.
We’ve all been there. The BEGINNING. Day one of trying to make positive changes in our bodies and our minds. It’s awful. You look ahead at the apparent mountains you must climb to get to where you want to be. It seems like an endlessly impossible painful process and you question over and over, why bother?
Health, fitness and nutrition have been priorities for me my entire life however, I have 3 children which means 3 times I have had to lose weight and regain my fitness. After each pregnancy, I have looked at the mountain, swore, and considered giving up the fight. I understand the hardship of starting this quest for health and fitness, time and time again. In fact, this was the biggest personal hurdle for me to get past when considering having a third child- I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to ‘fight back’ again having done it twice already in the previous 3 years. It’s so much easier to ‘be fit’ than it is to ‘get fit’. Starting out is hard; a 30-minute workout feels like 3 hours, your body aches (during AND after), you are exhausted, not energised (unlike the endorphin rush you get when you are at a certain level of fitness). Regardless, each time I have thought about the benefits of getting to where I want to be and I push on….
Originally the purpose of this blog post was to share with you all my experience training for my first half marathon and some of the advice I have to offer for beginner runners like me. Instead, I would like to share a story about an incredible woman I met during my training who, despite a major obstacle, found a new way to do what she loves – a new direction to run.
By now I’m sure many of you have heard about Harriette Thompson, the oldest woman to run a marathon. On May 31st, Harriette, who is 92-years-old, crossed the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon finish line. And just to clarify she ran not 3.1, not 13.1, but 26.2 miles!!! This phenomenal woman, a cancer survivor, has been running marathons since the age of 76 to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Like Harriette, I’m also sure each and every individual who ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll has a great story as to why they run – even if it is as simple as “I Just felt like runnang!” (Had to!)
But out of those 19,000 individuals, I would like to spotlight the incredible woman who set out to break the Guinness World Record time of 2 hours 49 minutes for running a half marathon backwards. Yes, that’s right. 13.1 miles – BACKWARDS! Her name is Justine Galloway. Three years ago she was diagnosed with runner’s dystonia. Her left leg no longer listens to her brain. The pathway was fried. And Justine beats this by…yup, you guessed it! Running backwards.
I met Justine through the Milestone Running’s amazing run club here in San Diego. She reached out to all of us runners in hopes of finding a couple of witnesses that would run with her during the Rock ‘n’ Roll. The moment I read her letter, I knew I wanted to be a part of her journey and witness her inspiring determination.
How many times have you said to yourself, “This year will be different! I will [insert new health behavior here]!”? If you are like the majority of people, you have set a New Year’s resolution or two for yourself in the past. You might even be thinking of marching into 2016 resolutely with your head held high and a plan to change your life for the better. Well, if you are like the majority of people, then it is also likely that you are setting yourself up for failure.
But wait- all hope is not lost. By learning some of the reasons we are typically destined for failure, you can go into 2016 better equipped to make healthy choices and stick to them.