Take the Healthy Road to Fitness and Weight Loss!

March 27th, 2013 | By Lindsey Ebert 1 Comment

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Every day, we are bombarded with diet ads on television, the Internet and even the big screen. It seems that, in today’s society, everyone wants the quickest, most effortless solution to weight loss. Many of these proclaimed solutions focus on the ‘one sure way’ to succeed in getting fit. However, these claims are often unrealistic.

If you search “quick weight loss” online, you will find methods that say they are the secret to losing large amounts of weight in a short period, some of which don’t even require diet change or exercise. There are diet supplements, diets that eliminate food groups and even surgical procedures.

Diet pills are a popular weight loss fad that can be found just about anywhere, even on the shelves of your local grocery store. These pills serve different functions, depending on the active ingredients. Some pills suppress appetite while others slow fat absorption or increase calorie burning. While some of these pills may help you lose weight, they are intended to be used alongside a balanced diet and suitable exercise plan. Maria Breen, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist at the University of Georgia, warns against potential dangers of these diet pills. According to Breen, not all brands of diet pills are regulated by the FDA. This means that the labels may contain ingredients that aren’t listed. They can also promise results that aren’t necessarily attainable.

kid-viewSome diets advertised focus on eliminating entire food groups. The popular Atkins diet, for example, eliminates carbohydrates from your plate while encouraging consumption of meats, eggs, and cheese. While diets such as this may work for a short term, Breen says that, after a few months, most people gain more weight than they intended on losing. This is due to what she calls the “rebound effect.” The rebound effect occurs when your diet is successful at first, but rebounds when weight loss slows down. The dieter tends to get discouraged and gains the weight back. This could be attributed to the emotions experienced from the failed diet.

Like supplements, there are possible dangers to these types of diets as well. For example, diets that emphasize eating large amounts of meat could put you at risk for kidney disease. Diets that cut out food groups completely can be hard on your heart, kidneys and bones. To be successful, Breen stresses the importance of a lifestyle change as opposed to crash diets. Through behavior modification and more normalized eating, you can lose the weight and keep it off.
One of the most drastic fads in weight loss is through medical procedures. Gastric bypass, for example, alters your digestive system so that you eat less and are full faster. Studies conducted by the CDC show that weight loss solutions such as this can be successful for long-term weight loss. However, not everyone is eligible for such drastic procedures. To qualify, you must have a BMI of 40 or higher, which would classify as extreme obesity. While the potential for success using surgical procedures can be enticing, there are also very serious risks associated, including hernias, malnutrition, low blood sugar, and stomach perforation.

The greatest number of people who have successfully lost weight (and kept it off) will tell you that, for most of us, the best weight loss solution is to maintain a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Breen recommends working with a dietician in order to create a diet that best suits you. Physicians, she says, are also useful if you have other medical problems that could be contributing to weight gain or the struggle to lose weight. Personal trainers can also assist in creating an exercise plan that fits your ability.

In order to achieve your weight loss goals and maintain a healthier lifestyle in the long-term, Breen offers three helpful tips:

  1. Get educated. If a diet fad sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t just rely on what the commercials say about a diet, or even what books may claim. Seek information and second opinions before diving into any weight loss plan.
  2. Remember that there is no ‘secret’ to weight loss. If a pill, diet or procedure claims to have the secret to losing weight, chances are it is not reliable.
  3. Set attainable goals. Instead of tackling all of your goals at one time (such as exercising every day on top of cutting down your calories), you should focus on one or two lifestyle changes at a time. For especially busy families, any step in the right direction helps. Instead of jumping right into going to the gym every day, start by walking around your neighborhood for exercise.

We would add a fourth point to this list: be sure you consult your health care professional before making any exercise or nutrition changes to your lifestyle.
The allure of quick solutions to health issues can reel in just about anyone. Instead of wasting your time on fads that promise unreasonable results in short periods of time, make an effort to get fit the right way. Recognize what you are able to do, and build a team of support to help you accomplish your goals. With time and commitment, you will soon be on the road to success.

To develop an exercise and diet plan for your own specific needs, consult your health care, fitness and nutrition professionals.

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