Let me be blunt
Conventional and non-conventional means to lose weight are actually counter-productive. When you cut back on your food intake or you over-exercise—and more so if both—your body will feed on your muscle causing loss of tone, strength, and lowering of your body’s metabolism.
That means that the amount of energy (calories) you CAN burn each day goes DOWN, which, in turn, means you require less food than when you began to cut back, just to maintain. This is only one of the major reasons people gain their weight back after a diet. Counter-productive right?
And, doing this cycle over and over again can lead to much more than body and food issues. It can lead to mind issues – namely depression and anxiety – and everything that goes along with them. That is NOT what you want.
So let's get real
You cannot think your body out of its most important job. The thing is…the body doesn’t know that you may live in a world of food, that you actually DO need to keep your muscle and bone, and that you don’t want your fat. Your body is doing the opposite when you restrict food: it is working to keep your fat (for survival) and breaking down your bone and muscle (which are more expendable in times of reduced food intake) to feed itself.
Muscle weighs four times as much as the same volume of fat tissue. In other words, fat issue takes up four times as much space in the body as muscle does pound for pound. Fat tissue is not specific to how the body deposits it, except that your DNA dictates how and where your fat is deposited. The body tends to lose fat from the last place it added it and will then add it to the last place lost. This cannot be controlled by, for example, doing sit-ups to burn belly fat; the exercise only strengthens the muscles locally (which is a good thing), but does nothing to burn fat there. Muscle is specific to where and how it is deposited, based on your DNA and physical use of the muscle groups. By strengthening the muscles, they will get denser (adding more weight), and muscles add specific shape and tone to the body different than fat weight does; both are important for healthy hormones, bones, and fat can be particularly important for fertility and natural womanly curves.
Lean body weight is also made up of fluids and bone. Fluid loss or gain is naturally temporary as the body regulates its fluid homeostasis, based on intake, heat regulation, and many factors. Bones gain in mass as one grows into adulthood and up to about age 30. Losing bone mass can cause irreversible osteoporosis, making bones brittle and easily fractured at any age, even teens. Significant bone loss can happen after only six months of under-eating for any reason and can make up some of the weight loss, along with muscle loss.
In other words, people who are “trying” to lose weight really WANT to lose fat weight, but are they? How would they know?
So now you can see that weight measured on the scale can go down, yet NOTHING could have happened to your fat weight, although you might weigh less and feel smaller (and in this weight-obsessed culture, you may feel better about yourself for that), yet you might still be unhappy with your body and still “feel fat”. So, food restrictions continue.
You can also weigh more than you think is “good”, but have lean and strong muscles and less fat. See why weighing is not helpful?
Muscle is your active metabolic tissue that actually burns fat as its preferred fuel. Losing muscle creates a smaller engine. Smaller engines require less fuel. So cutting back on food—however it is accomplished—creates a smaller fat-burning engine (less total body muscle mass and metabolic rate) than BEFORE you started “dieting” to lose weight.
“Lifestyle” versus “diet”—don’t fall for it
If you are introduced to a food “plan”–especially for weight loss–that is instructing you what and how much to eat, in terms of points, calories, macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates or fats), it IS a DIET – no matter what they're calling it! Don’t be fooled.
The diet industry is a 70-plus billion dollar machine that isn’t about to “lighten up” on its message that losing weight is what we should all aspire to. If the methods worked, why are there 50,000 different diet plans on the market? And why don’t any of the big corporate weight loss entities, or anyone else claiming weight loss success stories in testimonials, have gold-standard research in long-term studies to prove it? Because those numbers don’t look good, not at all, and they don't want you to know about it.
The Biggest Loser TV show is a great example. Have the whole world watching: give participants a prepared food plan, a grueling exercise regime, shame them on the scale, get them to lose weight, and then send them home, all in the name of entertainment! What about those poor individuals, those human beings that went through that ordeal? Almost every single person gained their weight back plus some. Just like MOST of all other diet and weight loss plans…that kind of boot camp approach is NOT sustainable.
Since the early 1990s, the National Institute of Health has published data that 98% of people, every time weight is lost, regain that weight plus more than before the “diet”.
Yes, you read that correctly. 98% of people who set out to lose weight end up gaining it all back, plus some.
Dieting causes one’s “set-point” to increase as well. Think of it as a survival tactic that the body does in order to help you in times of real famine, as the body doesn’t know the difference between real starvation and a cleanse or a diet/meal plan/points plan. Your body’s SOS message: more fat on your body will help you to live longer. That means that after every diet, there is a higher and higher rebound in weight that happens, and the body locks it into what is called your “set-point”, the weight your body prefers to be for survival. Remember, your body is always doing the best it can with what you give it.
When weight is inevitably regained in this way, the “I’m not okay” thought is triggered and the cycle repeats. This is called yo-yo-dieting and weight-cycling. Does this remind you of the definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same result”, or worse, getting more of what you didn’t want in the first place?
Break the cycle
A healthy weight for you might not be the number you find on the internet or the same as your best friend, or even come out of a medical textbook. What's important is that you are healthy at whatever weight IS right for you. That starts in your brain.
If you haven't done so already, take a few minutes and go take my Eating and Body Image Quiz. You'll get some good info at the end about yourself – and it might surprise you.