Weight Loss That Lasts

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98% of diets result in the dieter regaining the weight they lost, and then some.  

This is an astonishing statistic.  An estimated 45 million people each year go on a diet, and 44.1 million of them not only fail to reach their goal weight, they regain every pound that they had lost in the process.  If you've read anything I've written in the past you know that I'm a firm believer that the human body was designed to thrive.  I believe that healing and restoration are coded in your DNA, you only have to give your body the assistance it needs to reach a place of vitality.  So why, then, is it seemingly impossible to reach a thriving body composition? 

Let's start with some reverse engineering.  In order to understand how to achieve sustainable weight loss, it helps to first understand why most people can't keep the weight off. 

So what goes wrong?  These three things. 

1.  The means used to lose the weight are not sustainable in the long run. 

Well, of course, right?  Isn't that obvious?  Yes, and also no.  It's an obvious truth in retrospect, but a truth that you're blind to when in the beginning or middle of a diet.  A dangerous combination of desperation, misinformation and unrealistic expectations prompt you to start a diet.  At no point do you stop to ask yourself our one golden question: can I do this for the rest of my life?

If the means you used to get the weight off are not realistic to the demands of your everyday life then you will not be successful in keeping the weight off.  As soon as you stop restricting that food group, stop counting calories for every meal, or stop tallying points every day your body will start to backslide into its previous form.  Because your habitual choices and actions haven't actually changed.  You just temporarily forced them to take a different form. 

2.  Your internal environment is not in the proper condition to effectively manage energy balance. 

I think I've said this before, but I'll say it again: HORMONES ARE KING!  If your hormones are out of balance then not only will you not sustain your weight loss, you'll gain it all back... and then some.  

There are two forms of dieting today: the quantity diet and the food type diet (also referred to as "a lifestyle, NOT a diet."  Don't believe the hype.  If you make your eating decisions based on aesthetic outcomes you ARE dieting.) 

The first, the quantity diet, places all of its emphasis on restricting the amount of food while completely neglecting the quality of food and the nutrition that the body needs in order to function properly.  Everything about the quantity restriction diet spells hormonal disaster.  Now, before I go any further, I want to clarify that you do need the correct portion sizes in order to maintain a thriving weight.  But there is a massive difference between restriction and moderation.  Restriction requires willpower and is often jumped into far too quickly (i.e.: from Big Macs to stuffing your meals in tiny portion control Tupperware boxes.)  Moderation is a result of living in self-discipline and is often discovered through the patient process of learning the true energy needs of your body.

Restricting caloric intake is perceived as a form of stress by both the body and the mind [1]. 

Research has shown that your body will respond to calorie restriction by producing cortisol in two ways: first, the state of being chronically underfed is stressful and will promote cortisol production, and second, the willful act of counting and monitoring calories places additional mental stress on the body, further worsening the problem.  Cortisol is the hormone that's responsible for adrenaline.  In some instances, cortisol can keep you alive.  However, unless you're in the Yukon wilderness running from a grizzly bear, cortisol is probably not doing you any favors.  Cortisol is responsible for slowing digestion, interrupting sleep cycles, decreasing your ability to recover from exercise and promoting fat storage (four things that you really don't want to happen if you're trying to lose weight or keep weight off). 

Quantity diets also rarely place stipulations on the quality or completeness of the nutrition you are taking in. 

As a result, most people consume packaged, highly processed, shelf-stable food-like-products that do little to nothing in the way of providing critical nourishment that the body needs in order to carry out cellular metabolism.  Do you want a faster metabolism?  Yes? Then power your machine with premium grade fuel.  

Now, onto the modern diet.  The lifestyle diet that's "not" a diet.  The food group elimination protocols are running rampant, demonizing food groups (and stealing joy) nearly everywhere you look.  To date, the following food groups have been "proven" to be the culprit behind our current obesity and health epidemic: fat, carbs, gluten, dairy, plants (because they contain lectins) and animal protein.  What does that leave us with?  Air and purified, alkaline water?  Tasty.  

This diet is a tricky beast. 

So to keep it simple, let's start by analyzing the intent behind the diet.  As I said above, if you enter into a structured way of eating based on aesthetic outcomes you are dieting.  And what happens to dieters?  98% of them gain all the weight back.  Because as I said in #1, dieting involves forcing your actions to fit a predetermined mold for a temporary amount of time.  Once this time is up, you're back to your old ways having learned nothing about sustainable weight loss.  You're gluten-free until you're not.  You're keto until you're not.  You're vegan until the cry of the bacon can't be ignored any longer.  These diets are identities that we don in hopes of turning into the poster-child of the modern clean eater.   Rarely is true vitality the actual intent behind these diets.

It's worth noting that if true vitality is the intent behind your nutrition choices and you approach nutrition with the mindset to pay attention to how food affects you, you might encounter some foods that keep your body from thriving.  Very good.  You've reached a landmark in your journey to better self-awareness.  Make disciplined decisions to not eat that food on a regular basis because you want to feel your best, not because you want to look your best.  Do not restrict entire food groups based off a rule handed to the masses.  Nutrition choices must be based on what is true for you.  If it's not YOUR truth, it will not serve you.

Common sense tells us that balanced eating is optimal eating. 

Then why is everyone so vulnerable to the siren call of the elimination diets?  All of these call for removing a natural, God-given food from the diet.  The body requires a variety of nutrition in order to function optimally.  How do you expect your metabolism to work correctly if entire food groups are missing?  Again, as I said above, everyone has different physiology.  Some people can tolerate starchy carbs without a problem while others do better to rely on other carb sources.  That doesn't mean that starchy carbs are to be demonized and avoided at all costs, you just have to learn what is best for you individually.  (Side note: for an interesting article showing moderate carb intake (not restricting carbs or over-consuming carbs) resulting in longest life expectancy see the link [2] at the end of this post).

3.  You're focused on all the wrong things. 

Have you ever heard that where your focus goes, energy flows?  That couldn't be any truer in the case of the dieter.  When you're focus is narrowed in on negative or stressful thoughts about your body and food, you'll find that your entire life shifts, in a negative way, to revolve around those things as well.  

I have to inject a little personal story here to make a point (and hopefully my mom doesn't read this).  I grew up mountain biking with my parents in the woods of LBL in northern Tennessee.  My mom is a skilled cyclist with decades of experience in the saddle, but it never failed that nearly every ride she would run into something that she was trying to avoid.  Why?  Because in trying to avoid it, she directed her attention to it and her bike would naturally steer itself right into its path.  Your mind and your focus are absolutely no different.

If you focus on food all day you're far more likely to reach for it when bored or emotional.  If you obsess over your body all day you'll start to see imperfection everywhere.  How will that ever lead to a joyful, stress-free, thriving life?

We've been told what to let occupy our minds:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
— Philippians 4:8

How do you lose weight and keep it off?  You don't do those three things.  Kidding... I know it's not that simple.  Achieving change that lasts a lifetime is not easy, and embarking on the journey alone is overwhelming.  Fortunately, we have a solution coming for you.

Carol and I have worked countless hours in developing a virtual nutrition, cooking and lifestyle coaching program that's designed for complete health transformation.  Our program, The Common Sense Transformation, leaves no stone unturned. 

What it is, in a nutshell:

  • A 12-month virtual coaching and transformation program 
  • A 12-month course in foundational to advanced cooking skills (be totally competent and confident in the kitchen - never fear a recipe again!)
  • An intentional habit change program that builds from foundational habits to the habits necessary to maintain your lifestyle through all of life's seasons
  • A year walking hand-in-hand with us as your guides and coaches
  • A progressive and sustainable approach to permanently changing behavior and mindset
  • Includes an optional small group guide, The Common Table, allowing you to share in your journey of transformation with friends

The CST is for you if you can say yes to ANY of the following:

  • You struggle with weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight
  • You experience anxiety over food or your body
  • You experience obsessive thoughts or behaviors regarding food or your body
  • You are confused about what is considered good to eat
  • You struggle with permanently changing habits or behaviors
  • You lack confidence and knowledge in the kitchen
  • You depend on food industry products or restaurants for most of your meals
  • You are confused by the mass of conflicting diet information
  • You want a simple, proven, no-nonsense approach to nutrition
  • You want a community of support in your journey of change