When it comes to Christmas and New Year’s, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Santa, spending time with family, or is it the anxiety of making yet another New Year’s resolution to lose weight? For reasons unbeknownst to me, the last two months of the year is when people celebrate the holidays, spend time with family, and binge eat. It is almost like food will never be seen again or available after the New Year so we better eat as much as humanly imaginable now so we don’t starve. I am included in this group mind you; I’ve been there and know exactly what you’re going through-once that first Oreo hits my lips, forgetttaboutit.
Maybe even more of a problem than overeating during the holidays is the over analyzing we do when it comes to the NEXT diet we are going to go on once the New Year hits. While you read about the latest fad diets that promise you will look your best in 12 weeks, let me be the first to tell you that they don’t work. Anytime you hear the word diet, run as fast as you can the other way because they don’t work, and science proves this. Research shows that the people who diet multiple times in their lives have more bodyfat than the people who don’t. Said another way, people in general have an amount of bodyfat that is directly proportional to the amount of times they “diet”. Now, let’s make one thing clear before we move forward. Just because the amount of times people try to diet is proportional to the amount of bodyfat someone has, doesn’t mean dieting causes more bodyfat- correlation does not mean causation. The scientific term to describe this phenomenon is called bodyfat overshooting. This basically means that if you start to diet at 30% bodyfat, and after 12 weeks get down to 25% or if you’re super aggressive 20%, you will inevitably shoot way past your initial bodyfat due partly to your metabolic rate being lower during your time dieting. At that point, what do you do, go on another diet only to repeat that cycle leading to more and more bodyfat.
Two studies to look at about this:
1) Biology’s Response to Dieting: The Impetus for Weight Regain. By MacLean, PS. In American Journal of Physiology. September 2011 Volume 301
2) How Dieting Makes Some Fatter: From a Perspective of Human Body Composition & Autoregulation. By Dulloo, AG. In Proc Nutr Soc. August 2012.
Diet after all is a four letter word and brings all the negative connotations as the majority of other four letter words do. Dieting involves a few simple things that create a failing environment before you even start. Diets describe that you can’t eat your favorite foods and that your life has to involve small meals every 2 hours to ignite the metabolic fire. Sound familiar? It is a load of you know what. Have people got super lean and lost tons of weight eating 10 times a day, yes. But just like some people love to run marathons, it’s just not for everyone, and in this case, the majority.
Some things to consider when beginning the New Year and the new you:
1) Be positive- This can’t be stressed enough. The more you think negatively about yourself and about how long it will take to get back to the ideal you, the longer it will take to get there. Think positively about yourself and enjoy the process.
2) Be a good person- You may be wondering how this applies to losing weight, but in Dr. Stephen Posts’ book, “Why Good Things Happen to Good People”, he explains that you can live a longer, healthier, and happier life by the simple act of giving.
3) Take Control over food- This means that instead of mindless eating and eating because something tastes good, eat because you’re hungry and not because you’re bored. Psychological hunger is much different than physiological hunger. Test out this theory by fasting one day until dinner.
We have to train the mind before we train the body. If what sits on top of your shoulders isn’t working right, what sits beneath it won’t work either.
In summation, when January 1 rolls around, let’s not think diet because we already know where that road takes us. Instead, let’s re-evaluate our way of thinking about ourselves, each other, and food, and let the rest take care of itself.