MYTH #1 You need to go on a diet and never eat carbs or sugar ever again – not even fruit!
The word “diet” is used to describe the foods and drinks we consume in terms of its qualities, composition and its effects on health (Dictionary.com). Therefore we’re all on a “diet.” Whether it’s improving, preventing or being detrimental towards our health and weight loss efforts is a different story.
Usually when people want to lose weight and they choose to go on a “diet” it immediately implies deprivation and/or that we have to select a popular “diet” to follow to help us lose weight. Unfortunately, this is where we tend to get consumed by “shiny object syndrome” or in this case “shiny fad diet” syndrome and fall victim to jumping on the paleo, keto, vegan, grapefruit, etc. diet.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve studied over 150 diets in my 20 years of experience and I can tell you that they will all work until they fail.
So instead of rushing into a “diet” that claims to give you the results you want, start by knowing your facts, your numbers and staying true to exactly what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it.
First, do this:
1.) Know how many calories (energy) your body needs on a daily basis and how many calories your body burns on a daily basis depending on your current lifestyle.
2.) Then calculate how many calories you’re actually consuming on a daily basis (keep a food journal for a few days).
3.) Look at those numbers closely. Are you creating a caloric deficit or surplus? Start there BEFORE you rush into a “diet.”
4.) Don’t get caught up with the minutiae of macronutrients, keto, paleo, vegan, etc. if you don’t even understand your current behaviors and numbers first.
5.) Lastly, focus on what you know you should be eating, what you CAN do, and naturally crowd out the “bad” food choices by crowding in with great food choices that have more fiber, are lower in fat, unprocessed and focus on whole foods. Chances are you can start by making small but high impact changes first.
If you need help with the step by step of figuring out your numbers, download my free guide on how to lose 20 pounds by summer.
MYTH #2 You need to join a 6 week boot camp, exercise 3 hours a day and sign up for a marathon
Okay, yes, I’m exaggerating a bit on this one but c’mon, don’t act like you’ve never heard those claims about boot camps, extreme weight loss, and biggest loser stories where they have people workout almost all day? That is completely unrealistic for the majority of people who have demanding jobs, a family and competing priorities.
Or what about this one: you have to workout 7 days a week for 2 hours. 5 days a week do cardiovascular activity for 60 minutes where your heart rate is at a max of 60% and do strength training 3-4 times a week with an upper and lower body split. HUH?! I don’t know about you but that’s enough to make not want to even get started or bother trying.
While yes, exercise will help you in your weight loss efforts, what really matters is that you create a caloric deficit. Whether you decide to create that deficit by eating less, exercising more or a combination of both is up to you. But if you do decide to add exercise as part of your weight loss strategy don’t over complicate it. If you make it too complicated you’ll fail, give up, and only get frustrated.
First, do this:
1.) What I suggest is that you start where you are and begin with the path of least resistance.
2.) Choose something that you actually enjoy doing and can do every single day as part of your normal routine. For example – walking every single day for 10 minutes then slowly increasing it to 20, maybe even 30 minutes.
3.) Or perhaps setting your kitchen timer for 10 – 30 minutes and doing a combination of jumping jacks, running in place, squats and lunges or doing a workout video that you saved on You Tube.
4.) You see, there are plenty of strategies and resources on how to get exercise and move your body but the most important place to start is with building the habit of making exercise/ movement a part of your daily lifestyle first. Build some momentum and then move on to what’s next.
5.) Find the time of day that works best. What is the simplest way for you to move your body for 10-30 minutes today that you can do again tomorrow and everyday for the rest of your life? Start there, and then build on that. Ignore the boot camps, trainers, etc. if you’re just not ready for that right now and is going to make you feel like a failure if you try that first and can’t sustain it. Small wins will take you far. However, if hiring a trainer or joining a gym does work for your current stage of life then by all means – go for it!
MYTH #3 “It’s in my genes… I’ve always been overweight and I always will be.”
According to research, while yes, genes do have an impact on your health, it’s only about 30%. Personal choices and behaviors make up for 40% and social and environmental factors make up 20%. Surprisingly, medical care only makes up for 10% – who knew?
What I focus on is the 60% – personal choices/ behaviors and social/ environmental factors and don’t waste my time ruminating negatively about genetics.
First, do this:
Answer these questions:
- How many hours of sleep do you get on average?
- On average how often do you exercise per week?
- How well are you eating during the week?
- How much do you walk or move during the day?
- How frequently do you check email?
- Do you take a break mid morning, mid afternoon?
- What is your strategy for cell phone/ electronic device usage at home?
- Do you drink more water than flavored beverages, alcohol and/or caffeine?
- How is the energetic quality and quantity of time with friends and family?
- How much of your food is processed? Do you know the difference between whole foods and processed foods?
- What are you surrounded by at the office, at home, in your community? Is it easier for you to get a tasty power bowl filled with whole grains, vegetables and a lean protein or is it easier for you to whiz through a drive through and get a burger, fries and milkshake?
- Do the people you’re surrounded by practice and model healthy behaviors?
Focus on what you CAN do today, tomorrow and everyday.
But first assess where you are, address the issues and adjust along the way – rinse and repeat often!
Brenda Sillas is on a mission to end obesity through nutrition, well-being and workforce health. As a high impact Weight Loss Strategist & Health Coach for busy, driven entrepreneurs and professionals, she helps individuals lose weight, be overfilled with natural energy, and change their relationship with food through online programs, personalized coaching and The Brenda Sillas Diet – A 10 Day Jumpstart to Weight Loss guide. Among other things, she is also a former National Physique Committee competitor, Mother of 2, Keynote Speaker, and the Senior Workforce Health Consultant for the San Diego region of the nation’s top not for profit Health Plan.