Let’s talk about weight loss! As with any health and wellness article I write, please realize that I am not a health expert, nor do I claim to be. Any changes you make to your daily diet or workout routine should be because of your own research and/or recommendation from your trusted physician or nutritionist.
With that being said, there were many ideas I had about weight loss which I later found to be either inaccurate or 100% false. There’s so much information on the internet, and that can make it difficult for us to truly understand what to do. Below are just 5 of these common misconceptions:
- Following a crash diet is not ideal for long-term results
This isn’t a “knock” on some of the popular diets in 2019. For many people, different programs like the ketogenic diet or intermittent fasting work very well (I have personally been intermittent fasting for the last 10 months).
However, it’s a HUGE knock on those trying to sell you a SUPER restrictive diet for a few months just so you can lose some weight and go back to your less-than-ideal eating habits. This approach is absolute garbage! I should know- I tried it all 4 years of college.
I gained roughly 40 pounds within my first 1 ½ years while in school. That’s not “stress”, that’s having no self-control, and I fully admit it. What made it worse? I tried to lose weight once or twice a year and failed every single time because I was thinking about it the wrong way.
The truth is that if we want to become healthy long-term, we don’t need a diet, we need a lifestyle change. We need small habits which over time deliver big results, not a crash-course diet which deprives us of everything we enjoy eating. While some people find success with that method, most of us quit after a couple of weeks. Remember: If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.
- Eliminating all fats from your diet is not healthy
“Fat makes you fat” is scientifically false- there’s no other way around it. FAT IS NOT YOUR ENEMY!
Contrary to popular belief, SOME fat actually promotes overall health (and specifically heart health). Monounsaturated (found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts) are excellent for heart health. In fact, one of the most common polyunsaturated fats are Omega-3s, which are the essential nutrients found in fish oil.
Fat doesn’t make you fat- too much bad fat makes you fat. Understand the difference, and then eat your avocados! 😀
- You cannot target weight loss in specific areas of your body
Spot reduction does not exist outside of liposuction. This is another HUGE idea which I did not understand until recently. Fact: It does not matter how many crunches, sit-ups, or leg lifts you do- if stomach fat is covering your abs, you will NEVER see them!
Literally, never, ever, ever!
That’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true, and the moment we accept it is the moment we can take necessary steps to get that 6-pack (or at least lose some belly fat). The trick is quite simple, and it’s been true since the dawn of man: If we want to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we consume.
Before you go out and buy the newest Ab Blaster Deluxe 5000, take a look at what you’re eating. Understand how much cardio you are doing every week. Get a baseline understanding of how many calories you need to burn a day in order to be in a caloric deficit.
After that, you can look to specifically target your abs (or any specific body part). Don’t misinterpret my intentions- ab exercises are EXCELLENT for developing solid core strength and overall aesthetics, but doing them alone will probably not get you the results you want.
- All calories are not the same- WHAT we eat matters!
Having a daily caloric intake goal is a nice way to keep track of your progress and keep yourself accountable. However, if that goal becomes your sole focus, you may fall behind in your weight loss journey.
Think of it this way: If your goal is to consume 2,000 calories a day, you can do that by eating 2-3 good sized meals filled with protein, healthy fats, and some carbs. Alternatively, you can eat 13.33 Twinkies (roughly 2,000 cals) and meet your caloric requirements that way.
Did both options meet your calorie goal? Yep! Was the 2nd one a good idea or even remotely healthy? Nope! Obviously, your situation may not be that extreme, but using an extreme scenario gets the point across. What you eat matters to the way you feel and look, so make it a goal to incorporate healthy foods in your life rather than just trying to hit a specific calorie intake.
- Make incremental changes rather than changing everything at once
This is the biggest mistake I made when trying to lose weight in college. While this may be counterintuitive, and perhaps not as motivating as going as hard as you can from the very beginning, making small changes to your lifestyle at the beginning will create the best chance for your success.
When I wanted to lose weight, I’d say to myself, “Alright, Sean. Starting today, you are going to eat nothing but clean calories, do 45 minutes of cardio a day, lift weights 5 days a week, and find the cure for cancer by next Thursday.”
Ok, the last one was a joke, but in all honesty that method was going to get me about as close to my weight loss goals as it was to me curing cancer (while I’m a ‘jokester’, cancer kills people every day. Check out the American Association for Cancer Research to donate and learn about cancer research being done today!).
Rather than trying to do everything at once, start with small goals like going to the gym 2-3 times a week, limiting yourself to 1 treat/day, and then go from there. Will this take longer than a crash diet which deprives yourself of any enjoyment? Yes. Will you have a better chance of actually losing weight and gaining physical/mental health in the process? You bet!