You Can’t Count Calories Your Whole Life

24 Jan

Counting calories doesn’t work. How many times have we said it? We like to talk about it though, because so many people still believe that if you just eat less calories or burn more calories, weight loss will happen. If it were that simple, losing weight would be much easier. And we probably wouldn’t be in business. The truth is that losing weight (and gaining weight) happens differently for everyone.

The idea of counting calories is inaccurate and can be very discouraging for people trying to reach their weight loss goals. You may be thinking you’re doing everything right, eating within your calorie range and exercising on a regular basis, but you still aren’t seeing any results. Obviously something else is going on here. It could be that you’re eating the wrong foods, that you’re too stressed, that you have a hormonal imbalance, that you have hidden food intolerances, it could even be that you aren’t sleeping enough. Calories in, calories out is not going to help you with any of those things.

No matter where your weight issues stem from, researchers have come to a couple conclusions that are true for everyone trying to lose weight. A weight loss model should have 2 phases. First, a phase of aggressive behavior change, and then a phase of more relaxed but permanent change. People also have to realize that weight loss may not happen like they want it to. It may not happen as quickly or drastically as you want it to. You have to focus on smaller measurable goals, such as doing yoga three times a week, or eating a balanced breakfast every morning. Also make sure to celebrate every small victory and keep a record of how you’re feeling so that you can look back and see how far you’ve come. Do you have more energy? Are your clothes fitting better?

Gradual weight loss may not be what you envision, but it is more effective. If you want to keep the weight off, you have to change your lifestyle. Gradual weight loss helps you transform your lifestyle bit by bit so that you can be healthier and happier. You won’t be happy or healthy cutting 1,000 calories out of your diet and trying to keep that up for the rest of your life.

Researchers also found that people who were successful with maintaining their weight loss long-term engaged in physical activity regularly and checked their weight regularly. Being active on a regular basis (even when you feel like you’d rather skip it) helps boost mood, increases energy and keeps the ball rolling and motivation high. Start skipping workouts and you may find yourself on a downward spiral. For many people it’s much harder to get back on the wagon than it is to keep up a routine. I think checking weight regularly is a good reminder to see how far you’ve come and to keep you thinking about why you need to maintain your weight loss. But don’t obsess over the scale. There are many other benefits to weight loss; your numbers don’t have to be perfect.

Brody, Jane E. “Why Even Resolute Dieters Often Fail” The New York Times. Sept. 19, 2011.

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