At the start of each year, weight loss programs and fitness clubs bombard us with low cost promotions to convince us that it is time to get up, push away from the cake, and get healthy. We fall for it and start giving money to the business that delivers the most convincing pitch. We think, this time it will be different. We believe the abs on the model in the commercial are achievable. Likely, the model does not achieve those abs beyond the taping or if they do, our lifestyle does not enable us the luxury of spending the amount of time in the gym that is required.
I recall the years that I maintained a fitness club membership and swam five days per week, every week. I absolutely hated January. In January, those who had been swimming for years (I called us “the usual suspects”), were forced to make room for the newbies. The newbies would arrive at the pool in brand new bathing suits, goggles, fins, etc., splashing around and forcing the “usual suspects” to wait for a lane. Then, with each passing month, fewer and fewer newbies were in the pool at 5am. By March, we were back to the usual suspects.
For years, Oprah Winfrey was another bump in the road on the weight loss journey of many people. Periodically, Oprah would unveil a new diet that she was on or a new chef that she had hired to assist in her weight loss journey. Her weight went down and up and with each change, she either obtained a new sponsor or hired a new chef to help her. I remember her chef, Rosie. Rosie “wrote” a cookbook that contained recipes for many of the foods that Oprah loved.
I purchased the cookbook and the first recipe, fries coated with eggs to make them crisp, turned out like garbage. The egg never stuck to the potatoes but did a fantastic job of sticking to the pan. I never made another recipe from the cookbook. Oprah and Rosie got richer and within a short period of time, Oprah was overweight again and announcing her “next greatest diet” to the viewers. However, she never started a diet by apologizing for dragging the viewers along on the previous endeavor and never kept her diet to herself until she had achieved long-term success.
The government is always paying for “validated” research to tell us what is good or bad for us. For years, they told us that eggs, due to the cholesterol content, were bad and would raise our blood cholesterol levels if we ate more than a couple each week. Well, this many years later, they have completely backtracked and now they say, “new research” indicates, for people without preexisting conditions, there is no direct link between blood cholesterol and egg consumption. Eating eggs, whole eggs, yolks and all, does not cause an increase in blood cholesterol. How many people listened and took a delicious item off the menu? I did. For the sake of time, I will not go into the government’s statement about the issues with Kind Bars and then when Kind pushed back, the government was forced to begin “redefining the definition of healthy“.
Finally, I will mention the new FDA-approved device that allows one to eat whatever one chooses and then, the device empties the contents of the stomach. Does anyone but me see this device as causing problems that will require the FDA to re-evaluate the approval in the coming years? Below are the success rates for the current offerings in weight loss surgery.
- Biliopancreatic diversion is able to lead to an average of 73% excessive weight loss after two years.
- Gastric Bypass about 65%
- Sleeve Gastrectomy 56%
- Gastric banding 49%
These rates are not terrible, especially for the first technique. However, it just seems that no one really knows the answers and guessing just keeps costing the recipient money. Whether joining a fitness club, following the next “new” diet, or paying for very expensive surgery, it seems that too many people never get off of the weight loss roller coaster. In the end, fitness clubs, weight loss programs, and TV personalities just get richer with no accountability to the people who try their “programs” with little or no long term success. No, I did not forget the doctors who recommend surgery and those who perform it, they too, get richer without providing a guarantee.
The government and businesses frequently get it wrong or have a biased reason for the information that is presented. Research is only as good as the researchers, their attitudes and biases, and abilities, and the available participant pool.
I say, just go ahead and eat C.A.K.E. Place focus on your Calorie intake, Attitude, Keep track, and Enjoy!
Pay attention to your CALORIE intake. If you want to eat cake, go for it but keep in mind how many calories you need to maintain, lose, or gain weight. If your daily goal is 1500 calories, if you choose to eat it in cake, so be it. Just know, you are going to be hungry and consume a lot more than 1500 calories by the end of the day.
Change your ATTITUDE and learn to like fruits and vegetables. I recently learned that it takes a heck of a lot longer to chew and swallow a baby carrot than to chew 1 or 10 cookies. However, I stay fuller a lot longer after chewing the carrots than I ever do eat 10 cookies. I also buy fewer cookies and more carrots so I do not have the temptation and I start to naturally reach for the carrots even when there are cookies.
KEEP track of everything you eat for a month or two. It will amaze you how many calories you are eating. Something small, a cookie or snack size candy bar, can contain a lot more calories than an apple or a handful of carrots. Almost always, they will contain a lot more calories than you think. If you guess, you are likely underestimating how many calories you are consuming and this leads to “I am eating only a little and I am still not losing any weight”. Trust me, I was very guilty of this before I started tracking everything that I put in my mouth.
When I started keeping track of what I was eating (using MyFitnessPal -free), I would consume all of my calories by lunch and I was constantly hungry. Over time, I started to swap the unhealthy, not filling foods, for foods with more nutritional content. Using My Fitness Pal, I was able to see the calories in each item, meal, and for the day and I could make modifications, such as removing cake as a snack. I have also found that eating the same things everyday keeps me from choosing more unhealthy snacks. When I have to decide at the moment what to eat, it never ends well. Pre-planning has been more beneficial than I ever imagined.
ENJOY the journey. If you choose to exercise, find something that you enjoy and start out slow. To stay motivated, set short-term goals that you are likely to achieve. Five minutes of jumping jacks, toe touches, or walking to the end of the driveway and actually doing it is much better than setting a goal to run a mile because you could perform to that level 20 years ago, not completing it, feeling defeated, and quitting. You did not become sedentary and/or overweight in a week and you are not going to fix it in a short period of time. What is likely to happen is you will set small goals, accomplish them, and ease into a new goal because you enjoy what you are doing.
If you do not accomplish a daily goal, whether calories or exercise, the wonderful thing is, tomorrow is a new day. Go to bed, get up, and you have a clean slate. No blame, no regret! Just focus on the day in front of you and count each success.
If you do not enjoy what you are eating or the exercise routine that you have set, change it! I sometimes get bored with my exercise routine and when I do, I consult Google or YouTube to find an alternative. I never knew that walking in a parking garage and climbing the stairs could feel so amazingly different than trotting around the neighborhood but it does and my enjoyment has returned. There is no reason to pay for exercise routines or ideas when Google is at your fingertips.
Under no circumstances does this post attempt to minimize the struggle of those who have endured a lifelong weight loss battle nor is this an attempt to say that if everyone eats healthy and exercises, they will achieve their weight loss goals. I know there is more to it for some people, such as emotional issues that go well beyond healthy choices and anything thing that I am qualified to publish in this blog. However, I am sure there are some people reading this who are like me and they just need to be reminded of the basics and this post is for them.