The one and two New Year’s resolutions are losing weight and being smarter with money. For weight loss that will mean many people turning to the diet of the day, purchasing exercise equipment or a club membership or one of the myriad weight loss systems that sends you boxes of food. For the vast majority of people losses will be short-lived and the weight will be back by the end of the year when we’ll all start the same dysfunctional cycle all over again.
Going on a diet to lose weight will certainly end in failure and frustration. For 99 people out of 100, the reason they’re fat is they consume more calories than the burn off. Given that fact, the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your relationship with food permanently. You’re not changing your diet, you’re changing your lifestyle. Considering what’s at stake, it’s worth considering these points.
Start WIth a Trip To Your Doctor
Okay, sure, this is the standard advice the lawyers make you include with any weight loss article, but this is more than mere editorial CYA, your doctor can be a powerful ally. Let’s face facts, there are no magic pills that let you eat whatever you want and lose weight but, if you’re determined to make the lifestyle changes, there are medications that can help with appetite control, blood sugar management and, in extreme cases, surgical solutions. Your doctor can’t make up for a loss of self-control but he or she can help the truly dedicated.
It’s All About The Numbers
When people think about dieting normally they think about switching from food like Twinkies and Doritos to fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, study after study has shown that the quantity of calories you consume is more relevant to weight loss than where the calories come from. This was famously demonstrated by Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University. He lost 27 pounds in two months eating nothing but Twinkies, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Doritos and oreos, what he called the 7-11 Diet. By carefully measuring his calories his BMI went from 28.8 to 24.9 and his cholesterol numbers improved.
Diets Are Making You Fat
The news gets worse for people addicted to dieting instead of changing their lifestyle, diets can actually make you fatter. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles published one of the most definitive studies on the subject. The study’s results suggested that people lose between five and ten percent of their target weight in the first six months. After that between a third and two thirds end up gaining more weight than they lost within five years. It points up the circular truth that if diets really worked, we wouldn’t need so many of them.
Food Labels Can Fool You
People tend to eat up to fifty percent more of foods that are labeled “low fat” than they would without the low fat label. Calories don’t care if they come from fat, carbohydrates or protein. Above all, calories don’t care what’s on the label. Whether the package says low fat, sugar free or lite doesn’t matter; all that matters is the number of servings and the number of calories.
It’s ironic that the best way to make progress on both of the top New Year’s resolutions is to start by gathering data. If you want to save money, start by gathering data on how much you spend and where you spend it. Track everything, down to the penny. Weight loss life changes frequently start with a food journal; writing down and measuring everything you put in your mouth during the day. If you’re poor or if you’re fat, for most people those situations arise because they do not have good data about their spending and eating decisions.