Think You Know The Best Way to Lose Weight? Test Your Instincts

Posted on December 30, 2012 by VITAL WorkLife

Updated April 21, 2021

We all have a lot of "common knowledge" about the best way to lose weight. Below, you'll find some commonly held opinions about diet and exercise.

True or False?

  1. Strict diets are the only way to lose weight
  2. Skipping meals helps you lose weight faster
  3. Eating after 8 pm makes you fat
  4. Eating many small meals speeds up your metabolism
  5. Sleeping fewer hours per night makes you burn more calories per day

If you answered "false" to all of the questions above, you're 100% right. The sad truth is that most attempts at dieting don't work. An analysis of 31 long-term studies by UCLA researchers found that people can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of their weight on any number of diets—but the majority of people regained all the weight they'd lost.

It didn't matter if they were doing low-carbohydrate/high protein diets, starvation diets or packaged meal diets. It didn't matter if they ate tiny meals all day, had snacks before bedtime or only ate two meals per day. It turns out calories don't have clocks and our bodies don't like being deprived of the foods they like. Once the diet is over, most people return to their former habits—and weight.

People who successfully lose weight and keep it off don't tend to think of themselves as "being on a diet." They think of themselves as trying to eat healthy foods and get lots of exercise.

Going Beyond Dieting: Living a Healthier Lifestyle

Whether you're concerned about your own weight or the weight your children or loved ones are gaining, there's no purpose in making yourself or them feel miserable. Instead of scorning your bulges or fearing to put your feet on a scale, start taking four small steps to improve the healthiness of your lifestyle:

  • Eat Better.
  • Move More.
  • Limit Your Video.
  • Be Nice to Yourself.

Eat Better. Rather than strictly limiting the number of calories you eat each day, be mindful of what you eat. The majority of your calories each day (for the rest of your life) should come from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Enjoy smaller portions of healthy proteins (fish and poultry), nuts, seeds and beans. Try, whenever possible, to use plant oils (olive or canola) as your source of fat, and use butter and other saturated fats sparingly.

Don't deprive yourself of the foods you love. Enjoy a single portion of your favorite meat or pasta dish but then eat your fill of fruits and vegetables. Use vegetables to add crispness, flavor and bulk to your diet and fruits for sweet treats.

Move More. Make it a point to get up and move around. Sit less. It doesn't matter if you dance, walk, run, skip rope, do yoga, ride a bike or move to a five-story building with no elevator. If your kids are overweight, find activities that get the whole family moving. It's not only fun, it's good for your health.

Limit Your Video. Spend no more than two hours a day in front of a TV screen or video console. In addition to burning next to no calories, people have a tendency to overeat while engaged in sedentary activities.

Be Nice to Yourself. Don't say negative things to yourself about your weight. You wouldn't spend time with people who tell you you're fat or unattractive—so, don't describe yourself that way. Look in the mirror and find something to like about what you see.

Give yourself credit for every healthy choice you make. Congratulate yourself every time you add lettuce to your sandwich, take the steps instead of the elevator or turn down the opportunity to supersize your meal.

Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep can produce hormones that make it difficult to feel full—no matter how much you eat.

We Can Help

If you have questions about improving your diet or exercise habits, call 800.383.1908 to get connected with Nurseline, available any time of the day or night. A registered nurse is always on call with answers to all your health-related questions.

Interested in learning more?

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