As I begin my mission to unite mommas everywhere in their quest for Wow, I feel that I must first apologize for some of the things I've said in the past. You see, in my past life, I was a health educator working in fitness centers, hospitals and health departments. I taught people what they needed to do in order to lose weight, eat right and exercise. I taught the same thing that almost every health educator taught. We taught what was taught to us by government agencies, universities and public health. These were known as "best practices." Well here's the thing. I have been doing this with my colleagues for over 20 years now and our country as a whole has gotten heavier and sicker. Several years ago, when I started coaching people one-on-one and helping them to lose weight, it was more obvious than ever that those best practices were not working.
Here is a list of the "best practices" that I no longer recommend for my clients:
You can eat anything you want in moderation.
This became an often sung song over the years to help people not feel deprived as they cut calories to lose weight. But there’s one problem. The word “moderation” means something different to everyone. More often than not, I have seen people eat “moderately” all day long. They will have a couple strips of bacon for breakfast (because a couple are OK); then have a side of potato chips with their sandwich for lunch (because it's a small bag); then have a dessert after dinner (because they only have dessert after one meal each day). Get the picture? Throughout the day, you have added a lot of extra calories with little nutrition.
There are no bad foods.
You know who made this one up? The food industry! To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at the ingredients of a couple popular foods. Can you guess what these are? (You can find the answers at the end of this article.)
Mystery Food #1: Corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, modified food starch, water, gelatin, natural and artificial flavor, tetrasodium pyrophosphate.
Mystery Food #2: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sugar, phosphoric acid, caffeine, citric acid, natural flavor.
They don’t look much like food do they? The truth is your body is miraculous. You can eat a strawberry or avocado and your body knows exactly how to use everything within that strawberry or avocado for specific functions in your body. You are what you eat! When you eat a nacho chip or a doughnut or a cookie, your body looks back at you and says “You want me to do what with this?” As a result of eating highly processed foods with added chemicals, you develop sickness and disease. I have had countless coachees who said they were following their calorie recommendation to a tee, but had not lost much weight and still felt tired and achy all day. In order to lose weight and feel better, you must eat real food.
You must exercise 60 minutes a day in order to receive any benefit.
While taking an hour out of your day for activity is a good thing, (I highly recommend it for many reasons), it’s simply not practical for many people. We are a culture of long work days, night shifts, children’s sports, activities and homework. Not to mention we need to eat and sleep. Most people feel that if they can’t dedicate an hour or even a half hour of their time, it’s not worth it. But inactivity is not an option if we want to be healthy and have more energy. So what should you do if you can’t carve out an hour to improve your health? Everything and anything you can to get yourself moving more. Be creative! The old strategies hold true. Take the stairs and park your car the farthest from the store. Walk around the soccer field while your child is practicing. Buy hand weights or exercise bands to keep in your office; every hour or so, take a break and do one or two exercises. Do strengthening and stretching exercises while watching your favorite TV show. The list can go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Any bit of extra movement during your day is better than none at all.
You don’t fail a diet; a diet fails you.
Ok, I know I’m probably going to upset a few people with this one, but here it goes. If a diet didn’t work for you, it is your fault. There I said it. But hear me out. I always get asked, “What is the best diet for me to lose weight?” And I always respond, “Any of them.” Every diet works. That is for the short term. One of the first questions I ask a coachee that wants to lose weight is “What has worked for you in the past?” They usually respond by saying they were on Weight Loss Program ABC 10 years ago and it worked great. Then they say that they would like to try that program again because it worked before. Herein lies the moment of truth. If you do not succeed at long term weight loss, it’s because you could not control your behavior within the diet program for the rest of your life. But here is the good news. YOU are the one in control. Every decision you make about food, exercise, stress, sleep is up to you. The answer to successful weight loss does not lie outside you, it is inside you. In my coaching conversations with someone who has gotten off track, the bottom line is this…what were you thinking right before you ate the whole gallon of ice cream? Until you understand your thought patterns, behaviors, habits and compulsions, you will continue to fail diets. The keys to weight loss and good health really are common sense. But our values, beliefs and history cloud that common sense. Once you create an awareness of those things, you can then change your thoughts and behaviors and create lifelong habits.
Food identification answers: 1. Marshmallows 2. Cola
Have there been any "best practices" that just don't work for you? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post, please share with your friends.