This week I am giving a talk at my workplace about weight loss. As a dietitian, everyone always assumes this is all I talk about or all I know how to do. While this sometimes makes me squirm (dietitian’s can do so much more!), I still applaud those who actually ask me questions or come to me before going somewhere like the internet, social media, or to someone who doesn’t have any credentials that make them qualified to talk about personalized nutrition recommendations.
This question, “Why is weight loss so grueling?” is a question that has many answers. The first problem with weight loss is that so many people think they have the key to weight loss. Social media can be a powerful thing, but it can also be extremely negative to those who are desperate for answers or desperate to feel good about themselves. Sometimes I scroll through my Instagram or Facebook feed and see post after post about healthy eating, dieting, extreme exercise, and I just think to myself… how discouraging. For those who want to lost extreme amounts of weight, looking at some of these posts can create frustration and even fear that the body or the self-image they want is worlds away.
A few other things people commonly jump to when seeking weight loss are extremely low-carb or fad diets which cause quick weight loss fast. Here is a little piece of advice from someone who has stepped in both sides of the playing field. I have tried the fad diets and I have done what I know is best for my body. Fad diets are fantasy diets, just like the fantasy that you can lost 20lbs in 1 month and keep it off forever. Safe weight loss is about 1-2lbs per week. By safe, I mean weight loss that comes from simple modifications, drinking primarily water, and eating a well-balanced… let me emphasize, BALANCED… diet. This is also weight loss that will stay off long term.
The hardest thing about watching people try to “not eat carbs” is that many people don’t realize carbs are in so much more than just bread, grains, and starchy vegetables. Carbs are in milk and other dairy products, fruit, just about any product that is processed (yes, check your protein bars… I bet there are carbs!), and it is not the most evil macronutrient ever created! I remember sitting with my husband at a restaurant and (rudely) eves-dropping on the woman next to me explaining to the bartender that she was on a no-carb diet as she sat there and drank a glass of wine. Oh how I wanted to chime in and help.
Low-carb diets will produce weight loss short term, but often times these diets aren’t sustainable long term. Many people become discouraged after they stop their low-carb diet and see their weight slowly creeping back up to where it originally was. Instead of practicing deprivation, try practicing balance. Focus on your 5 main food groups and avoid giving foods a negative connotation. Weight loss will come with time, but look for other signs from your body that you are making positive changes. How are your clothes fitting? How do you feel walking up a set of stairs? Does your face look any different?
I cannot stress enough that if you are wanting to lose weight and keep it off, seek the help of a professional. Turn off your social media apps and stop comparing yourself to other people. Those who think they have “found the key to weight loss” maybe discovered something that works well for them but for 80% of the country isn’t feasible or realistic.
One last comment about weight loss. No one is perfect. Even those who seem the most confident see flaws in themselves. There have been times where I have questioned myself and my appearance as a dietitian. Is this silly? Of course it is! What I just want to make known is it is OK to not like something about yourself. Always think about your overall health and how you feel in your own skin, now how you think you should appear to others. I try to be more confident in myself every day, it just takes a little time and a little self love…
Happy Sunday everyone 🙂