Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coach Laura: Healthy Weight Loss

Dear Coach Laura,

I was in the grocery checkout line when I saw a magazine with the cover story: Lose 33 pounds by Christmas. I mean, we all know this is impossible, right? Who still believes or ever believed you could safely lose 33 pounds in 3 or 4 weeks without damaging your health or gaining it all back, plus more, a few days after the prom or class reunion or whatever you wanted to lose that weight for?


Maybe Surgery?

Dear Surgery,

You're right! Anything that talks about losing that much weight in such a short amount of time is most certainly an unhealthy fad diet or even an outright scam. Fad diets have been around for as long as anyone can remember.  Some historians credit William the Conqueror with starting the first fad diet. He as supposedly too fat to ride his horse, so William went on a liquid diet in 1087—or, rather, a liquor diet, since all he did was drink booze. The story might be apocryphal—William, still fat, actually died after falling from his horse and there was no word on whether he was drunk at the time—but it’s a good one, and it sets the tone for the next 1000+ years of dieting. 

Other unhealthy, illogical and unrealistic diet fads through the ages have included the parasite diet, "chew yourself thin" - the idea that you chew your food  until it's liquified then spit out any solid leftover bits, the nicotine diet (super-thin supermodels, anyone?), the goldfish diet, and the monotony diet. (Most people would agree that any diet is monotonous anyway.) Besides being completely unreasonable, most of those are just gross.

You already know the answer I'm going to tell you - the best way to lose weight is to eat right and exercise. That's it. There's no secret pill in any bottle, no matter what the sidebar on your web browser tells you right now, and the only one who can unlock the secret to your own weight loss is YOU. Sometimes the simple truth is the hardest to believe because it is so very simple.

Yes, there are surgeries that can inhibit a person's desire to eat more, but between you, me and your computer screen - I have yet to meet one person who has made this a successful life-long weight change. Everyone I know who's had that type of surgery has gained all the weight back - if not more - simply because it wasn't a cure - it was an expensive and ultimately useless band-aid. THAT IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. That is simply my observation. I'm not going to argue with your doctor if you need to lose  large amounts of weight immediately. And I actually will backpedal a bit and say that I knew of a woman who fell into that category. She suffered from diabetes and needed to lose weight fast. Under her doctor's recommendation (note: not a desire to alter her physical, cosmetic appearance), she had the "stapling" surgery. To this date, about three years ago - she has so far been successful in keeping the weight off. I don't wish for her to gain the weight back, but statistically speaking, unless someone makes actual changes to their diet and lifestyle, this is not a long-term solution, and many of the side effects can be miserable.

So what if you don't lose 33 pounds in time for a Christmas party? What's more important, in my opinion, is that you feel good about how who you are and how you feel. Making changes that you know you need to so that you can experience better health are going to ultimately bring you more happiness than worrying about if you can fit into a dress that a fashion magazine wants you to. Remember - that magazine is getting PAID to paint unrealistic expectations of what women in the US should look like. Ugh. That's a dissertation right there. Don't buy into it!

Enjoy the holidays, but don't OVERindulge. Follow the tips in my last article to enjoy guilt-free eating.

To your health - for the holidays and BEYOND,

Coach Laura

1 comment:

AskTheGeologist said...

Have you tried the Vitamin O diet? Just Oreos and multi-vitamins for about three days. Works even better if you scrape out the white fat between the cookie disks first. You lose weight but feel guilty. Salads taste better than the usual grass clippings afterwards, too. ;=)