Weight loss is a huge industry, which is actually a curious thing. Look, for example, at books on weight loss. If you go to Amazon.com and search for books on weight loss, you’ll find a staggering 12,496 books to choose from. Question: if any one of those books worked, wouldn’t it be the one that everybody reads? So how do you lose weight? What works. May I suggest that you find what has worked reliably for people, and do what they did?
Two of the things I firmly believe in include: (1) Most of the challenges that confront us have been met and overcome by other people before us. And in this age of instant information at our fingertips, we have but to find out what others have done to overcome those challenges, and we can simply do what they did. (2) I’m also a great believer in bell curves. For example, if ten thousand people lost weight and kept it off, what were the most common things they all did? What’s in the middle of the bell curve?
If you approach weight loss with these two ideas, weight loss isn’t complicated. That doesn’t make weight loss easy, it’s just not complicated. All you have to do is learn to pay attention to your body, to the science, and adopt the common proven lifestyle adjustments made by people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off, and do what they did.So what are the common attributes shared by people who have successfully lost weight? For that, we just need to look at some statistics from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).
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98% of the people that successfully lose weight and keep it off make major changes in their total food intake.
While I don’t have the details, if you look for commonalities again, you’ll find that there are really only four basic rules for weight loss:
- Get your carbs from whole foods, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, or potatoes.
- Good fats or ok, but eliminate bad fats, especially trans fats, which includes margarine, Crisco, and any hydrogenated vegetable oil. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and reduce the good HDL cholesterol. Trans fats cause inflammation, which brings on chronic illnesses including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A handy rule of thumb: if the fat is a solid at room temperature, it’s bad. Think butter, bacon grease, cheese, the fat in steaks, etc. If the fat is liquid at room temperature, it’s good. Think olive oil, or the Omega 3 fish oil in supplements.
- Eat lean protein. Good examples include grass fed beef, pork tenderloin, ostrich, bison, wild caught salmon, halibut, tuna, etc.
- Eat lots of fruits and veggies. A good rule of thumb is to have at least half your plate be in fruits and veggies.
The short version? Eat fresh, whole foods, mostly plants. Think about what Michael Pollan says: Don’t eat anything that won’t rot. When I was in high school, one of my teachers had an Oreo on display that was on a plate under a glass cover, resting on 3 pennies, like three little feet, to allow air circulation. There was a note on the plate that read: “Oreo placed here March, 1969.” I saw that in 1980. My teacher often said: “If mold and fungus won’t eat it, neither will I.”
OK, so the food you eat plays a huge role in successful weight management. What else?
Of the people who successfully lose weight and keep it off:
- 90% exercise at least one hour per day.
- 78% eat breakfast every day.
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
Do you notice something here? The people that lose weight and keep it off make lifestyle adjustments. They don’t make short-term adjustments; they make life-long lifestyle adjustments.