You can eat as much as you want while losing weight, as long as it’s healthy…
Meat will cause you to gain weight…
You have to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism up…
Carbs will make you fat…
These are just some of the misconceptions on weight loss I heard at work in one day, which tells me many people are misguided on what it takes to achieve healthy weight loss.
I can’t always zone in on where individuals get their information, but it’s clear that the weight loss and food industry is growing only more saturated with misleading marketing strategies, conflicting data, and misrepresented products.
As social media takes over the world of interpersonal communication, the catalog of sound, research-based nutrition and fitness advice gets increasingly convoluted by opinion, guessing, and hearsay.
The Weight Loss Rollercoaster For Women
In theory, healthy weight loss is simple: energy in versus energy out.
In reality though, weight loss can be a nightmare. The human body was designed to survive by maintaining fat stores during long periods without adequate intake.
Combine our natural physiologic proneness to store and preserve energy as fat along with immense agricultural advances, societal changes, and a hefty dose of cultural weight-shaming and skinny-praising, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a tough road ahead on your weight loss journey.
I’m not one to throw a pity party, but it’s important to know that you are not weak, incapable, or less than because you’ve had failed attempts at shedding the pounds in the past.
And as tough as it is to lose the weight, it’s also difficult to keep it off.
Ask yourself what went wrong the last time…
What were you doing in the short-term that you could not keep up with?
Whatever it was, don’t blame yourself before reevaluating.
Were you miserable? Did hunger pangs keep you up at night? Did you salivate every time the bread basket got passed around the table, or cry inside every time you passed DQ?
If your plan involved a finite set of rules spelling out what you were “allowed and were not allowed,” then you were setting yourself up for failure.
The “good food, bad food” stigma is all encompassing, time consuming, guilt rendering, and not part of healthy weight loss. The truth is there is no one food that cannot be included in a balanced, wholesome diet while still creating the calorie deficit needed to lose weight. Not one.
Healthy Weight Loss Diet: Nutrient Density
Nutrient density is a concept that is often overlooked within the context of a healthy weight loss diet and is misunderstood by individuals embarking on their weight loss journey.
That said, it’s critical to distinguish between a calorie deficit and a positive nutrient profile.
For instance, let’s compare a slice of white bread to a slice of 100% whole grain bread or sprouted bread. In terms of calories, they are virtually the same. In terms of carbohydrate content, they are the same.
…But that slice of whole grain bread is going to provide the added benefits of increased amounts of fiber, vitamin E, selenium, folic acid, and multiple B vitamins which carry a slew of health benefits.
Although they are identical as far as the amount of energy provided, they are not equal.
So who is healthier – an individual who eats a vast array of different foods but consumes a few hundred more calories a day than is necessary, or an individual who successfully achieves a 1-2 pound weight loss a week but does this with a very limited number of processed food items a day? (In the long run, chances are the former.)
Balancing Calories In Versus Nutrient Density
Although nutrient deficiencies are rare in the United States, combining a diet restrictive in calories with little attention to the value of those calories defeats the purpose of trying to achieve a healthy weight loss strategy and a healthier lifestyle.
Your goal is to master the sliding scale of calories your body needs vs. nutritional bang-for-your- buck, and this is up to you to monitor.
If 1,800 calories a day is your goal to achieve a rate of healthy weight loss and you eat an extra 200, whether it is in the form of spinach or in the form of ice cream, the deficit you require for weight loss will shrink or disappear completely.
On the other hand, if you achieve your goal of 1,800 calories a day for a month and lose 8 pounds solely on Special K, celery sticks, and Starbucks’ skinny vanilla lattes, you are setting yourself up for not only weight regain – but numerous other health complications.
If you think you’ve got the nutrient density thing down as part of your healthy diet, and you know exactly how many calories a day you need to lose weight (and are adequately tracking everything through an app like MyNetDiary or MyFitnessPal)…
Then there may be something else going on, which is what we’ll cover next.
Other Factors That Might Be Keeping The Weight On
Yes, healthy weight loss is simple in theory, but if it was all science and numbers, you would already be at your ideal weight.
We are no longer a hunter-gatherer society that must fight for each meal, nor must we go more than a few hours without food if we choose. Our society has evolved, and with that comes easy and inexpensive access to calorically dense foods and foods that just make you want to keep eating.
You have a job (maybe two), possibly kids, a dog, and a husband who eats whatever he wants. Or maybe you’re in college and…well… Ramen noodles, enough said.
Maybe you have a best friend with a perfect body who seems to follow the “red wine and pizza” diet, and a boyfriend who has no idea how to support you aside from buying you Corona Light.
Or maybe you have financial stress, you don’t know if you’ll make rent this month, and you especially don’t have the money for fresh produce.
Maybe your weight has already caused other health issues making it even tougher to embark on a health and fitness program.
Stress, anxiety, and depression are hugely common in today’s society making food that much more of a comfort – and getting in shape that much more difficult.
Healthy Weight Loss Tips: Mindful Eating & How To Deal With Hunger
Losing weight is not going to solve the root of your daily problems, but mindful eating is the way to separate them from the food you eat.
Mindful eating, or intuitive eating, entails being wholly in tune with your hunger and satiety cues and respecting them throughout the day. It entails being aware of your tendency to reach for particular foods while you’re feeling certain emotions or when it is culturally and socially expected to do so.
This helps build awareness of yourself and your daily habits, and pushes you to become present while you eat and appreciative of every bite of food you take.
What About Intermittent Fasting For Women?
If you believe this entails starving for the purpose of weight loss, don’t worry – I wouldn’t be supporting that.
Although intermittent fasting (“IF”) is simply defined as the abstinence of food and drink, it can be done healthfully and with flexibility while helping you honor your body’s needs. When done right, IF can be an effective and healthy way to lean down and maintain weight loss.
Moreover, it ties perfectly into mindful eating because it forces you to listen to your body’s hunger cues while distinguishing them from social or habitual cues.
For example, are you actually hungry every morning when you wake up, or do you eat because you’re pouring your kids cereal?
Is your body telling you to eat at noon, or do you reach for your lunch because your coworkers do?
Is that late night bowl of ice cream a means to satisfy a sweet tooth or are you actually hungry?
By actually learning to pay attention to what your body is telling you, you may find that you don’t necessarily need to eat every 3-4 hours and that much of your eating habits are simply a schedule programmed into your body over a lifetime.
Maybe you rarely feel hungry at all. You may be so accustomed to eating under certain circumstances and at certain times that food becomes more of a ritualistic afterthought to you instead of the necessary energy your body needs for fuel.
On the other hand, if you are hungry, there is nothing wrong with eating. Don’t let yourself starve to the point where you overcompensate and gorge later because this will only slow down your weight loss efforts.
Rest assured: if you’re not hungry yet and you go another hour or two (or longer) until you are hungry, this will not hurt you or “slow your metabolism”.
Learning to honor your body’s hunger cues will ultimately result in decreasing your caloric intake naturally without feeling deprived and miserable.
Moreover, when you do feel hunger, that doesn’t always mean you need a full meal. Sometimes your body just needs a wholesome snack that won’t weigh you down and put you into a “food coma” in the middle of your day or right before you go to bed.
Consuming 500+ calorie meals on the first onset of hunger every time you feel hunger will undoubtedly make weight loss difficult, if not impossible.
The Bottom Line on Healthy Weight Loss
Weight loss is only the beginning… Maintenance takes a lifelong commitment to healthy behaviors while finding true pleasure in your day to day life.
If aesthetics are your sole motivator, I suggest making a list of other reasons you’d like to improve your health. They will help push you and keep you on the right track.
Simply striving to look like a Victoria’s Secret model probably won’t hold up in the long-term. If you feel like the current plan you are on is too difficult or restrictive, step back and make some changes before you bow out completely.
Remember, this is about learning to love your new lifestyle, not about giving up cake at a family birthday party or skipping that birthday party to go to the gym.
There is a difference between incorporating healthy behaviors into your life and revolving your life around a diet and exercise plan… Keep your expectations realistic and enjoy the ride.
Honor your hunger cues, your satiety cues, and all the other little cues your body sends you. Don’t be afraid of failure and don’t be afraid to start. What matters is that you do.
*Your results may vary. Testimonials and examples used are exceptional results and are not intended to guarantee, promise, represent and/or assure that anyone will achieve the same or similar results.
Your Kino Question For The Day: How did this information help you on your journey to the Goddess physique? What problems do you struggle with most while dieting? Let me know in the comments below.