Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why Can't I Lose Weight? - Part 1

I hear this all the time - in fact I used to shout it out myself in frustration as it seemed that my efforts didn't pay off.  But in reality, the answer to the question is pretty simple.  Most people can't lose weight because they don't know how.

Sure there is more to it than that, but as a starting point the average person "blows it" when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off because they fall victim to the marketing messages being thrust on them every day from literally hundreds of different companies hawking their wares. 
"Lose weight while you sleep!"
"Drop 10 pounds in five days"
"Lose fat without dieting or exercise"

The sad reality is that weight loss is a $42 Billion industry and because so many people are making so much money off of your desire to lose weight (and corresponding lack of knowledge), they aren't about to give it up.  Where do you think the money comes from to pay for Celebrity endorsements?  And did the product they were promoting really generate their weight loss, or were there hidden factors such as working with a personal Trainer?  Oh yeah, and how many of them gained back the weight? 

Please! Examine products on their own merits, not because of who is tauting them...

But anyway you cut it, the stats point to the huge failure of most products as less than 30% of people who try to lose weight actually do.

Thats not to say that all weight loss products, concepts, plans and systems are scams, they aren't but.  But even with the best solution, if you don't arm yourself with facts and a long term plan, you probably won't succeed.

The first and foremost concept is that if you burn more calories than you consume, you will ultimately start burning off fat.  By the same token, if you take in more calories than you burn off, your body tends to convert that into fat and store it away for future use.

Certainly there are other factors at work here, but if you arm yourself with this basic premise - burn more than you take in - you will have the foundation to develop a plan that works for you.

The second key concept is that it takes a combination of food management and beneficial exercise to lose weight effectively.  You really can't have one without the other. (That was a key mistake I made in my early attempts...and failures.)

The third aspect is that in order to keep the weight off, you must adopt a long-term strategy.  Whatever it is that you use to lose the initial weight needs to be something that you can continue forever.  Otherwise if you quit doing whatever it was that made the weight go away, you can pretty much guarantee, the weight will come back.  Thus, you don't want to lock yourself into some costly or distasteful program right from the start.

The fourth factor is that as you lose weight, your metabolism will change such that it takes an increasing effort to generate the same results.  When I weighed 297 pounds I burned more calories when walking one mile than I do at my reduced weight of 227 pounds.  Thats because it doesn't take as much energy to perform physical tasks, because of the reduced body mass.  This is one of the things that leads to plateaus in weight loss - you reach a point where your efforts are breakeven, and thus the weight loss stops.  Plateaus will require you to adjust your program if you want to drop more pounds.

So how do you develop a plan that works for you?  Start by doing some research from sources such as the National Weight Control Registry which has no ulterior motive to try and sell you something. 

Then take the FOUR FACTORS above and apply them to any program you are considering to see if it makes any sense at all.  And always read the small print, which usually says that any such product must be used with proper diet and exercise...

But at the same time, you should realize that you have the tools at your fingertips to build your own program without investing any money at all.  So lets take a look at some ideas to get you jump started on an effective weight loss strategy.

To be continued...

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