I don’t know about you, but it can be confusing to know what to do and what to believe when it comes to weight loss or what a person’s body actually needs to feel good, be healthy, and lose weight effectively. I get questions from clients on these points A LOT and wanted to touch on some common misconceptions I hear from people when it comes to weight loss.
1 Eating less means losing more.
False, this could not be further from the truth! Your body needs a certain number of calories to burn and when there is a short supply, your body refuses to give up weight because it believes you are in a shortage of food. This course of action can work for some people for a while, but the most common plateau people reach in weight loss is when they are not eating enough. Shocking, I know. When your body goes into fat-storing mode it is incredibly difficult to lose weight, some of my clients can attest to that! Major calorie deficits work against you and cause panic in your internal workings, your body will take your calories and store them as fat- because you are “starving.” That leaves frustration and confusion in this commotion because what you think your body “should do” is the exact opposite. Eat plenty of whole foods and keep a reasonable caloric intake as your daily goal and you will succeed! Do not starve yourself, especially for nothing!
2 Without exercise, you cannot lose weight.
Wrong. Sounds crazy, right?! I am most certainly not saying that exercise is bad- it is incredible for you! Exercise and proper nutrition are a dynamic duo, but you CAN do one without the other (Nutrition is the other.) Let me explain. I have known a great many people who have exercised and even trained for a 1/2 marathon(s) – I am literally talking about myself here – 8 years ago – and these people (myself included at the time) still have a hard time losing weight, despite burning LOADS of calories during training. All that cardio and cross training (some weeks 10-22 miles of running and muscle workouts in between OR MORE) and nothing to show for it on the scale. I know I did build some muscle, but I grew very frustrated with the fact that I really did not see a big change in my shape with all that movement, not much thinner-maybe a little more toned? Let me tell you a little secret- I was eating terrible! I was drinking on the weekends (and weeknights) and had extremely poor eating habits. Your body is in desperate need of something exercise cannot give it and that is wholesome foods!
3 All calories are created equal.
WRONG! If you are desperately lacking nutrients in your diet, odds are you will not lose weight, look better, or feel better… because you are lacking! I am mainly referring to vegetables here. I used to believe this as well and would save up all my calories and eat one meal a day (intermittent fasting), which was basically whatever I wanted. This was over 5 years ago. I could not understand why I was gaining weight. I only ate a certain number of calories and just made sure I stayed within those confinements. Never mind that I ate little/to no vegetables and ate a lot of fried foods, meals that were carb heavy and always had a hefty amount of dairy. I would use the excuse of intermittent fasting, but the problem was still “WHAT” I was eating and not “WHEN.” I discovered the hard way- and 20 (okay 30) pounds later- that calories are about quantity AND quality. It DOES MATTER how many calories you consume and what those calories are. Vegetables offer your body loads of live enzymes, vitamins and minerals that are not in meats, carbs, or any other type of food. There is not a substitute for them. Juices and pills that contain vegetables are not the same either.
4 Diets are a one-time thing.
I say “NOT TRUE” to this because here is the deal- if you are overweight or do not feel great and want to get back some self-confidence and self-control, you need to think of things in a different way! I have clients come in with terrible pain and a sad quality of life because their weight (or ailment) is holding them back and causing them to be unable to function normally. I am not saying you can “never” have certain foods again, but you may want to consider that you not only look, but also feel much better when you eat a certain way. The unfortunate truth is that you cannot go back to what you were doing before you lost weight and felt great. That is what got you there in the first place. Here and there “treating” yourself is okay- but for most of the time, you will need to utilize proper nutrition to meet your goals, feel great or continue to maintain. LOTS of fresh vegetables that are raw, or lightly cooked, lean meats, and pure, wholesome grains will do a body some serious good. Especially if that is something that you have not been implementing. Staying away from sugar helps our patients with chronic pain an almost “unbelievable amount.”
5 Foods that taste good are bad for you.
If this is how you feel, odds are you have a problem with excessive sugar consumption. People who are “toxic,” I mean this physically, often come in saying this. When you treat your body a certain way for so long and give it chemicals, processed foods, preservatives, and an overabundance of sugar, this can cause some serious problems. Your body becomes accustomed to eating this way. And sadly, sugar is an addictive substance. It sounds kind of crazy, but it has been scientifically proven! Do not get me wrong, natural sugars in moderate amounts are perfectly healthy. But that coke, yes- even diet coke, every day has a detrimental effect on your health. The chemicals and by-products in sodas, pre-packaged foods, processed foods, preservative-filled foods, artificially colored, AND fast foods do serious damage to the body. Sometimes all of those previously mentioned happen in one meal. Your body, in turn, craves this. Because of what is in the food/drinks your body becomes dependent on these chemicals and sugar (regardless of how it makes you feel) and without it you may notice you do not feel well. On the other hand, when you eat this way, it can cause a person to feel terrible. The only way out of this vicious cycle is to stop and change what you are doing. We have our patients cut out all sugar and carbs (that are riddled with yeast and sugar), these feed the bad bacteria located in your gut. The results they have are phenomenal! Truly, it takes work and discipline, but the results and effects that this has on your health are priceless. When you feel better and you are not dependent on these foods, what you eat can fuel you and help you feel better. This is actually healing to your body!
6 Pre-packaged meals are beneficial for weight loss.
You have seen them in the freezer section. They go by several names. They offer you benefits and reasons to choose them because they will help you with portion control and losing weight, or so the claims go. However, these meals are full of preservatives, processed and typically high in sodium, sugar, carbs and in fat. Eating multiple meals and having these be the key ingredients are not going to leave you feeling better or fuel your body appropriately. They are still “fast food,” and not a recommended source of nutrients. What is fast and easy, is usually too good to be true. In this case, anyway. Stay away from that frozen section and focus on the fresh produce and how you can incorporate that more. Swap these for a salad with lots of veggies and some protein. That option will serve your body much better.
7 Cutting fat from your diet will help you lose weight.
Removing ALL fat from your diet is not the key. In fact, certain fats and oils are wonderful for you. Unsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, fish (specifically salmon and mackerel) and specific oils help what “bad fats” typically do to your body. They help lower cholesterol, stabilize heart rhythms, aid in easing inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, and reduces cardiovascular disease risk. That is just to name a few! So, the wrong types of fat can be harmful, but the right kinds can be greatly beneficial and assist you in losing weight! “Low-fat” foods, dressings for example, typically add sugar to compensate for the taste you lose when eating less fat. And that sugar, unfortunately, just converts to fat, which really defeats the purpose of getting rid of the fat in the first place.
8 There is NO magic “cure”
Contrary to what you may see advertised or what businesses try to market, there is no “cure” for weight loss. There is not a special drink that will cause your fat to melt off and no pill that will increase your metabolism and allow the fat to dissolve overnight. As the saying goes, “Good things take time.” I would say this principle directly relates to weight loss and the process you go through to lose said weight. Meal replacement plans are not sustainable long-term and plans that send you food are not either. In fact, these diet plans often incorporate the ingredients that are earlier discussed as being harmful to you. The key is ridding your body of toxins (cutting out the drinks/foods that are filled with them), eating whole foods and allowing inflammation in your body to go down. Did you know that inflammation can cause you to carry excess weight?
The BEST thing you can do for your body are making sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. You should be eating loads of vegetables, they are the top priority (you can always incorporate more of them, they are so great for you). Lean meats are easiest for you to digest and best for your health. Limiting grains and picking wholesome options that do not cause inflammation work with your body best (organic brown rice and wild rice are some great options). Nuts and seeds are great too, just stick to a small amount each day. Omitting/avoiding sugar, dairy, other grains and paying attention to what is in your salad dressings and condiments can change the way you feel, change the scale, and change the way you look drastically!