Recently, fans of The Biggest Loser were rocked at the news that while their favorite contestants were able to lose immense amounts of weight quickly, it proved far more difficult to keep it off. Their bodies burn far fewer calories than normal for a person of their size. That means they have to work a lot harder to keep the weight off than other people.
Reality check: losing, then gaining, isn’t winning. Keeping weight off by embracing a healthy lifestyle is the real win.
The good news is that you can lose that weight and ensure it stays far, far away. It requires patience, serious commitment, and lifestyle changes, but you can do it.
Calories are calories, and you must start by giving some of them up. Skip the fad diets, especially the crash diets, and face common sense: the bulk of most people’s excess calories come from empty refined carbs like sugars, bread and crackers, pasta, and that entire aisle in the store labeled, “Snack Food.” Stop eating them!
Replace your potato chips with healthy fresh carrots and celery, or even a crunchy apple. Don’t get the fries with your burger – they often pack more calories than the burger. Experiment with new recipes, like asparagus sautéed in olive or coconut oil instead of butter-loaded mashed potatoes. Make sure you get a little fat as well as balanced carbs and protein in every meal so you can benefit from fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Most importantly, eat more healthy lean proteins. Protein keeps you satisfied longer, slowing the release of hormones that make you hungry and feeding your muscles instead of your fat.
Make sure you never reduce your caloric intake to below your resting metabolic rate. That way lies madness – and fat. Why? Because your body’s smart. It will find ways to burn calories more efficiently and store away calories in fat like chipmunks store nuts because it thinks you’re starving. Which you are.
As you gradually shift your diet, you’ll find more energy. Instead of your body growing sluggish from processing calories that go straight to your belly and hips, it will gain energy from healthy lean proteins and vitamin-packed fresh produce. Which is great, because you’ll need it for your next step.
Yes it helps to start with the little things, like walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator and parking in the back of the lot. But more importantly, find ways to build muscle mass. Muscle, even when resting, burns more calories than the rest of your body, which means your metabolism must increase to feed your muscle. Remember, the reason Biggest Loser graduates are failing is their lowered metabolism. Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t starve yourself. Instead, build that hard muscular core that naturally encourages a higher metabolic rate.
One of the errors in The Biggest Loser was focusing on calorie-burning cardio. Those are important, but as soon as you stop doing them, you’re going to put the pounds right back on and worse. As the above-linked New York times article shows, metabolic rate, once slowed by diet and fat-burning exercise, does not speed up when you’ve reached ideal weight. Don’t send your body the message that you are starving. Instead, send it the message that you need more energy because you are doing more muscle-intensive things. That means interval-style training, the stuff that builds muscle and core strength.
Balance Your Life
Your body betrays you during diets by releasing more cortisol and leptin, evil substances that make you hungry. So you snack. Then you get sluggish again, and skip the walk or workout. Then you snack again.
Stop that. Cortisol is released by stress: work stress, hunger, lack of sleep, over-exercising, illness. Work to prevent those things by paying attention to your body and your unconscious habits. For instance, if you don’t eat a lot at each sitting but you snack a lot, you probably should eat up to six small meals a day instead. If you’re sleepy or nap a lot, change your nighttime sleeping habits. If you’re stressed by work, either look for ways to reduce stress or meditate.
As with eating right and exercising regularly, you’ll discover energy you didn’t know you had, which means you’ll get more done in fewer waking hours.
Everything above is a great start, but let’s get serious: reading this article isn’t going to change your life. Weight loss is hard. You need help. If you’re ready, really ready, to commit to becoming the biggest winner, give Body Masters a call and get started on your new life today.