You’ve heard the adage, “Slow and steady wins the race.” When it comes to weight loss, it couldn’t be more true. As Americans, we want immediate gratification. If we don’t see results quickly, or don’t have a sizable reward, we lose interest. If you have substantial weight to lose, the thought of months and months of dieting, to get results, is far from appealing. Think about it, the weight didn’t come on overnight. It may seem like it; one day you look in the mirror and you’re horrified because you see a different person. Our realities aren’t always realistic.
If optimal health is your goal, slow and steady is definitely the way to go. 1 to 2 pounds per week is great. However, you will reach a point on your journey when you hit a plateau. It’s your body’s natural way of losing weight. When you’ve been at a higher weight for a long period of time, your body gets used to what it has.
When you start eating the right things and being active, your body can resist weight release. Plateaus can be very frustrating. When I lost 45 pounds, back in the late 90’s, I was on a plateau for 3 weeks. I was eating healthy and was very active with hiking and cycling. I was so frustrated, I wanted to quit. My weight loss coach encouraged me to stick with it. She said I would get results. If it weren’t for her, I would have gained all my weight back. Fortunately, I took her advice, and stuck with it. On the 4th week I lost several pounds, averaging out to over a pound per week.
When we lose weight slowly, we have a greater chance of keeping the weight off. Drastic diets, that limit calories and eliminate food groups, may get results in the short term. However, when you go back to eating regular portions and incorporating other foods, you gain the weight back. You might be thinking, “I have an event coming up in a couple months, and I need to look and feel my best. I have to drop a substantial amount of weight in a short period time. I need a quick fix.” Here’s the deal, losing weight too fast can come with many health risks. Losing muscle mass, a decreased metabolism, nutritional deficiencies, gallstones, a higher risk for infection, are just a few. You may also be at a higher risk for a heart attack. Not to mention, you’re likely to gain all your weight back and then some.
When you lose weight slowly, you have an opportunity to develop sustainable healthy habits that will enable you to keep the weight off for years to come. A quick fix does not provide ample time to develop sustainable healthy habits. Habit formation requires repetition, over a period of time, to form neuropathways in the brain. With enough repetition, strong neuropathways are formed, instilling the positive behavior, and eventually, making it second nature.
There is one way to speed up healthy weight loss. When you incorporate activity into your lifestyle, you will lose 20% more weight, You are 80% what you eat. If you’re not an exercise fan, don’t despair. Activity comes in all shapes and sizes. Bottom line, it’s about moving more. How can you increase the number of steps you take in a day? Maybe you park farther away in the grocery parking lot. You could take an extra loop around the perimeter of Target. Take the stairs when applicable. Think about those things you enjoy doing…gardening, dancing, shopping, taking your dog for a walk. You don’t have to go to the gym, workout with a personal trainer, or spend hours lifting weights. If you enjoy doing these things, good for you! Remember, it’s all about sustainability. What do you enjoy, and what can you live with long term?