If we are being honest with ourselves, most people who make New Year’s resolutions will fall off within the first month or two. An even more daunting reality is that most people will end up in a worse position than when they started. According to multiple resources and experts, 80-95% of people will gain back more weight than they lost. This is quite astonishing when you consider the effort that those individuals put into their journey towards weight loss and a healthier body. While this is a sad reality, there is always light to be found in every situation. In this scenario, the light to be found in the remarkable upside for those who are ready to start their health journey this coming year and beyond. However, for this upside to be taken advantage of, we need to assess why we are in this position as a society in the first place. So, what can you do to ensure that you or the ones you love do not become part of the above mentioned static? Well, stick around to learn the three most commonly made mistakes and the better alternative.
Mistake One: Choosing to start a diet rather than choosing to make a lifestyle change.
This mistake is quite simple, but it is one of the main reasons that the above-mentioned statistic is occurring. Individuals who start dieting and exercising with the expectation that they will do it for a few months, lose all their weight, then return to their previous lifestyle are simply setting themselves up for failure. If you want to make a legitimate change in your health and life, you have to come to the realization that this is a lifelong pursuit. As you will read below with the following mistakes, anything that forces an extreme is likely to lead to an undesirable end. If you want to find success in your pursuit of lifelong health, you need to take a balanced approach that will allow you to take it slow. If you plan on finding a quick fix you will be sadly disappointed. Choose to change your poor habits and create a lifestyle change that will allow you to live the life you desire!
Mistake Two: Choosing a diet that is restrictive and does not allow you to eat your favorite foods.
Of course, we all realize that some of the best tasting foods may not be as “healthy” as whole foods such as vegetables and fruits, but the reality of the situation is that most individuals will only resist eating those foods for a short period of time. Study after study has shown that restriction diets that completely eliminate specific foods have a high probability of leading to disordered eating habits. These disordered eating habits can lead individuals right back into their previous dieting struggles, and in many instances, into a worse position. A great strategy for many individuals to practice is some version of flexible dieting, macro counting, or calorie counting. This variation of dieting allows the individual to fit in whatever food choices they prefer into an allotted number of calories (macro counting is a version of calorie counting). While this is a reasonable strategy for many individuals, it is also highly debated and controversial. Many health coaches, nutritionist, and dietitians would argue that any foods containing specific ingredients (sugar for instance) is bad for you and will lead to weight gain and/or poor health if consumed daily. Regardless of which camp you may fall into; it is likely that we would agree on the premise that eating pizza or ice cream from time to time will not kill you. In all likelihood, it may even be beneficial from a mental standpoint. So, if you plan on starting a diet this coming year, take into consideration the foods you love, and how you plan to fit those foods into your diet. Creating balance and flexibility is key to a sustainable, successful diet!
Mistake Three: Choosing cardio as your only form of exercise and using it to burn as many calories as possible.
We can all agree that cardiovascular health is extremely important and performing cardiovascular activities is essential to a healthy lifestyle. With that being said, it is commonly abused by those trying to lose weight, and even more for those who want to do it fast. We all know the person (or have been the person) who jumps on the treadmill for hours on end in an effort to burn as many calories as possible. The “burn as many calories as possible” strategy of weight loss is one of endless failures – resulting in some major downsides. The most prominent of these downsides is slowing of the metabolism, muscle loss, and in many instances, joint pain. Just like anything in life, if abused, cardio can cause some serious issues. So, what is the best strategy to get the most out of your cardio and drive fat loss? Well, regardless of age or previous exercise history, it is well agreed upon that resistance training in combination with cardiovascular activity is the best option. Whether resistance training consists of bodyweight movements, weighted movements, or swimming is up to you, but for the best results, choose one. A good rule of thumb is 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of intense cardio per week in conjunction with 2-3 days of resistance training. Set a time limit when doing cardio and avoid using calorie burn trackers as a way to track progress. These trackers are far from accurate and can be very deceiving. Instead, use time or intensity as a way to measure progress. Find a routine that works for you, but make sure to avoid the mistake of only using cardio and trying to burn as many calories as possible.
You do not have to join the countless individuals who have made these mistakes and ended up in a poor position. You can be successful in your pursuit of health and longevity if you take the right steps. Be patient in this endeavor, enjoy the process, and tailor your diet and exercise to your specific needs. If don’t have the knowledge to do so, seek help. There is no shame in seeking help from a professional who knows how to get results. Regardless of whether you plan to take the journey yourself or seek help, make this year the one where you truly create a lifestyle change and create the life you have been longing for!
Jonathan Lutz is a local personal trainer and online nutrition coach. He seeks to help individuals who have felt lost on their health and fitness journey but are ready to take control of their life and make a change. He believes in a balanced diet approach, individualized nutrition and exercise programs, and creating an environment of excellence with each and every one of his clients. His services consist of 1 on 1 in-person training, online nutrition plans, online exercise programs, and a combination of those. Follow him on Instagram for more tips and advice!