Why is slow weight loss better than fast weight loss? They lose it really fast on TV!
When we watch shows like The Biggest Loser, they give us a false impression of what an actual weight loss journey should look like. They are losing weight like it’s their job because it is their job. They get to put their entire lives on hold and live in a secluded environment. They exercise all day long. They have closely monitored medical supervision. They have trainers in their face. They have a giant paycheck dangling in front of them like a big, oversized carrot. After a few weeks, you can see the evidence of their fast weight loss in most of their skin. It can’t keep up with how fast they are losing and never regains its elasticity. They need surgery to fix this. A lot of them gain the weight back because they haven’t put their new habits into practice in their actual lives. They re-enter the real world and they’re like a kid in a candy store. Literally.
Weight loss is about the journey, not the destination. Yes, we probably all have a goal weight in mind, and most likely a date by which we’d like to hit that goal weight. And it’s important to keep our eyes on that goal when we get distracted, derailed, and tempted along the way.
But at the same time, it’s important to use the time and the energy that we put into our weight loss as best we can. It shouldn’t be viewed as something to quickly push through until we hit that goal, or something to force ourselves to endure for the time being. We don’t look at the rest of our lives that way do we? We may not be where we want to be financially or in our careers just yet, but does that mean we don’t enjoy ourselves on the way there? Slow down, and take weight loss like you do any other goal you work toward in your life.
Here are five reasons why:
Slow weight loss is healthier than fast weight loss. Losing weight too quickly puts a lot of stress on your body. If you are following a strict diet that’s very low in calories for an extended period of time, you will need to be medically supervised to make sure that you’re getting the proper nutrients and are keeping your body nourished. That’s not easy to do on the super low calorie diets that support ultra quick weight loss. That’s why these diets often use supplements or meal replacements, like shakes. It’s to ensure the followers are getting their nutrition somewhere. Because they certainly aren’t eating enough food to get enough nutrients organically.
If you follow a healthy diet full of fresh whole foods, rich in produce, with a healthy amount of calories and the right kinds of carbs and fats, you won’t need to worry about this. You’ll absolutely be on the right track to getting all your nutritional needs met. You and your doctor may forget each other’s names even, it will be so long in between visits. Seriously. My doctor called me last month. Well, his Medical Assistant did. I used to have to see him all the time, but he hadn’t seen me in so long he wanted me to come in and make sure I was OK. True story.
2. Good habits take time.
You need time to unlearn the bad habits and relearn the right, healthy ones. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I don’t think it was, I wasn’t there. Years of eating unhealthy food, and or going on and off of fad diets can take a while to correct. Learn how to feed your body the right foods, how to shop for and prepare these foods.
The same goes for your exercise goals. You won’t be going from the couch to the cross-fit championships in a week. If you try you may break something, so don’t. Build up your endurance slowly. Start small but don’t stop. You aren’t just changing your habits and daily behaviors, but your entire mindset and relationship with food. You are changing your thought process. No longer can you see yourself as a fat person on a diet. You need to see yourself as a healthy and fit person who has chosen a new way to live.
3. It’s easier to stick with it.
How sustainable are crash diets? How long can you exist on 800 calories or less? How long can you go with no carbs before you start to get really cranky? Or will you burn out? Binge? Quit? Dream about chocolate cake and pizza? If your diet seems like a miserable way to live, where you aren’t allowed to have this or that or much of anything else, then it’s probably not something you can sustain. And if you can’t sustain it, what will happen to the weight you’ve lost? Will you magically know how to keep it off all of a sudden? Could you ever do that before? Why not learn how to keep the weight off the exact same way that you are losing the weight? With a manageable, livable, sustainable, flexible plan. Like mine, that’s really no plan at all, but a guideline for living.
4. Fat loss-not just weight loss at any cost.
The difference between losing fat and losing weight is important to discern between. We all want to lose weight, yes, but we want to make sure its fat we’re losing and not muscle. Muscle is important for our metabolism. If you create too much of a caloric deficit by exercising too much or reducing your calories too much, your body will have no choice but to burn muscle for fuel.
It would be nice if our bodies just burned fat all the time, but sadly this is not the case. When our bodies sense a big deficit in calories, they will burn the tissue that uses the most calories at rest, which is the muscle, until they can be assured a famine is not imminent. Our bodies will store the fat tissue, for safety, like a bear in hibernation.
How can we ensure our bodies are burning fat for fuel and not muscle? By eating plenty of protein, by doing strength training and resistance exercises instead of long cardio workouts. We want our bodies to know that there is plenty of food around, and that we are working those muscles. And if cardio is your thing, try short bursts of high intensity cardio, rather than a long moderate stretch of cardio.
The diets that promise you’ll lose 20 pounds in two weeks by eating soup or drinking tea, are a promise that you’ll lose water and precious muscle along with the fat you are so desperate to lose. And you will feel like an absolute bag of crap. If you are losing weight the right way, you’ll know it. You’ll have energy. You’ll want to exercise. You’ll crave healthy foods and want to do the right things for your health.
5. Stress inhibits weight loss.
We are all under a lot of stress, and one thing that causes us a lot of stress is our weight problems. If you are constantly stressed, under strain, and unhappy about the weight, you’re hindering your ability to lose the weight. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to lose the weight so quickly. Stress raises cortisol levels, which raises glucose levels.
Those of us who are overweight often struggle with this anyway. It’s a vicious cycle. We eat because we are stressed and we can’t get full because of the hormonal response to the stress. We have uncontrollable cravings, but we blame these on our lack of willpower. We beat ourselves up for being weak, when in reality our bodies are fighting against us.
Don’t do this to yourself. The weight didn’t come on in a few weeks and it likely won’t come off that quickly either. Take time to learn to love yourself the way you are. Accept yourself and give yourself the love and care you deserve. When you are able to do this no matter what weight you are, you’ll find it much easier to commit to yourself and stick with a healthy lifestyle and eating plan. You’ll feel like you deserve it. You won’t want to quit at every turn, or find every setback to be a reason to start over. Check out my post on weight loss and why it won’t make you happy.
There are obviously varying opinions out there on whether or not it’s best to lose weight quickly or slowly. These are mine. Obviously, the more weight a person has to lose, the faster they can lose it, at least at first, but the habits and behaviors should remain the same. The biggest thing for me has been consistency. Getting back on the weight loss wagon after every setback. Even if the scale doesn’t budge, I know I’m still doing the right thing for my body and my health, and that if I am patient the weight will fall off. And it has. 115 pounds of it.
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