At the beginning of each year, millions of Americans make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, often through some sort of crash-course dieting plan. However, they also tend to learn that losing weight is much harder than they thought it would be. Or, more commonly, they immediately gain the weight right back once they stop dieting. Have you ever wondered why that is or are you one of the millions of people struggling with weight loss?
A lot of this can be explained by what happens to our metabolism when we lose weight, especially when we shed pounds quickly. Read on to learn more about the biology behind weight loss and 3 tips on how to counteract our bodies natural tendencies.
If you find this counterintuitive (and frustrating), you’re not alone. If more people knew about this, the diet industry would be out of business. Before we dive deeper into what is going on, let’s break down what metabolism is.
Metabolism is basically the way that our bodies convert the food that we eat into energy.
Our bodies are constantly expending energy. Whether we’re readjusting our position in a chair or engaging in rigorous exercise such as running or cycling, our bodies need energy to power every movement we make.
We also use energy for activities that don’t involve physical activity, like sitting still and thinking. In fact, researchers found that the brain accounts for 20% of our energy consumption, despite only representing about 2% of our total body weight. Overall, cognitive activities account for most of the energy that our bodies use, through a process (60%-70%) driven by what is referred to as our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).
Beside the energy used through RMR, an additional 10% of energy is used to digest food, and the remaining 20%-30% is expended during physical activities.
Keep in mind that these statistics are also estimated averages. If you’re an athlete or have certain health conditions, these numbers will look different. For example, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can slow the metabolism. If you have any weight concerns related to your metabolism, you should consult with a medical doctor. They may decide to assess your thyroid hormone levels. If it is low, you may be prescribed a replacement thyroid hormone. You can learn more by reading this summary, published by the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Our weight is the outcome of the energy that we consume and the energy that we use. Weight gain occurs when we take in more energy than they use and weight loss occurs in the reverse. So it might make sense to dramatically cut down calories or begin exercising a lot more and a lot longer each day to quickly lose weight.
As we’ve discussed previously, the problem is that our bodies are equipped with a powerful, natural defense system to counteract this type of extreme dieting approach. When we eat dramatically less (especially for more than a couple of days) our bodies interpret this as starvation and it begins sending out signals to conserve more energy.
One critical way that our body will attempt to conserve energy is by eliminating anything that takes a lot of it, such as lean muscle tissue which also has downstream effects for metabolism.
It’s also worth noting that rapid weight loss also throws our hormones out of whack. There are several hormones involved, but one of the most well-researched is leptin which signals to our brain that we are full and to stop eating. As our bodies lose weight, we also decrease our levels of leptin and without that signal (or less of it) we want to eat more, even if our body is consuming less energy.
Yes! Healthy habits.
If you’re new to our blog or just now being introduced to our work, healthy habits are at the heart of our wellness philosophy. You may be interested in reading our tips for dumping those all-or-nothing diet routines and 6 small steps you can take right now to make big changes to your health.
Basically, there are a lot of things working against us, from our busy professional and personal lives to the powerful biological forces that can sometimes undermine our desires and efforts to manage our health. The only way to overcome this type of gravity is through small and consistent behavioral modifications that will eventually snowball and take on a momentum of their own. Read some of our previous posts if you need a refresher, like those 6 tips I just mentioned.
1. Celebrate any success like crazy, no matter how small.
Whether you hit your goal to run an ultramarathon or you managed to lay out your workout clothes, dust those shoulders off and congratulate yourself for being the rockstar queen that you are!
A common example is deciding on what to order at a restaurant. When browsing through the menu of options, try asking yourself, “What would a healthy person do?”
This will help orient your attention to more nutritious meal options like a salad and away from other temptations like a burger and fries. You can also gain greater control over your relationship with food through mindful eating, which we’ve written about previously here. Eventually, you won’t have to ask yourself this question anymore because these choices will become instinctual. Plus, you will start to associate yourself as the healthy person.
Even if it means pacing around your room for 20 minutes while you phone a friend, physical activity improves your mood and sleep, while reducing stress and blood sugar levels. Additionally, while it isn’t the biggest factor in losing weight, exercise is key to maintaining the weight that you want to be.
The key point to takeaway is that our eating behaviors have the greatest affect on changing our waistlines, while exercise helps us maintain those changes. Crash-course diets impact both but those changes tend to be temporary and short-lived. We need to establish healthy habits, if we want long-term sustainable results.
NOTE: This blog post was also published on Medium.
Editor’s Note: The initial post incorrectly attributed the third photo to Blake Jackson. The caption has since been edited to credit Andrea Gerstenberger.
According to research by the Economic Research Service (ERS), Americans spend about 75 minutes per day eating and drinking, but we’re often doing other things too, like watching Netflix, scrolling through our phone, or working. Multitasking while eating can distort our perceptions, which can result in over-eating or under-eating. It can also distort our relationship with food and prevent us from truly enjoying what we’re eating.
Researchers like Dr. Lilian Cheung, a Nutrition Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, have referred to this type of distracted eating as mindless eating. Her research has found that mindless eating is a contributor to obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Ask yourself the following questions and see how well you can answer them.
Now, take a second and reflect on how your environment or habits may be affecting your ability to answer these questions — and do it with self-compassion. Keep in mind that the vast majority of people engage in mindless eating, even if they’re not looking at their phones or laptop screen. They may be lost in their thoughts about the day or deeply engaged in a conversation with a friend. This isn’t all bad, necessarily. It’s just that we should be aware of how this might be affecting our health and how we can control these behaviors.
Mindful eating is the opposite of mindless eating and it takes practice. It’s also a skill that we all have the capability of mastering over time.
Here are 3 tips to get you started:
If you’re ready to take the next step, here’s a mindful eating exercise inspired by clinical psychologist, Dr. Steven Hayes’s book, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
If you tried this exercise, as always, we’d love to know what your experience was like. Was there anything that you struggled with? Did anything surprise you? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.
Editor’s Note: The initial post incorrectly attributed the second photo to Blake Jackson. The caption has since been edited to credit Richard Cummings.
FIT & NU™ is working with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Diabetes Prevention Prevent T2 lifestyle change program to prevent type 2 diabetes, a serious condition that can lead to health problems including heart attack; stroke; blindness; kidney failure; or loss of toes, feet, or legs.
People are more likely to have prediabetes and type 2 diabetes if they:
Nationally, 1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes, so the need for a prevention program, like Prevent T2, has never been greater. The PreventT2 program is a research-backed and scientifically proven approach to preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes through modest lifestyle changes made with the support of certified coaches that help individuals establish healthy habits. Studies suggest that the Prevent T2 program can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% through modest lifestyle changes.
As trained lifestyle coaches, Joslyn Reese and Brittney Rae Raeese will guide participants as they work in groups to develop the skills they need to make lasting changes to improve their health, including losing weight, increasing physical activity, and managing stress. The program focuses on eating healthy, adding physical activity to participants’ routine, managing stress, staying motivated, and overcoming challenges that can get in the way of healthy changes.
PreventT2 groups meet for a year. Weekly for the first 6 months and then once or twice a month for the second half of the year to maintain healthy lifestyle changes. The program’s group setting provides a supportive environment with people who are facing similar barriers and working toward the same changes. Participants celebrate their successes and find ways to overcome obstacles together.
Written by Teniqua Pope
I don’t know who needs to hear this but, Sis: the times are always uncertain. Think about it: unless you dabble in the tarot or own a bedazzled Thanos glove, you’d be hard pressed to even predict what will happen later on today, let alone your entire life. Granted 2020 has definitely been next level chaotic (I’ll spare you the trauma of a recap) both your worst nightmares and your wildest dreams can sprout in chaos. Choose wisely.
Know this: Comfort cannot coexist with breakthrough. And amazing things are often planted in the unknown.
Fingers clenched around the familiar cannot grasp greatness. Even if what you’re holding on to is good, you have to let good go to reach better. Uncertain or not, right now is the time to make your move. Whatever that is. Lean into this moment and prepare to be amazed.
Key word: prepare.
Yes. You do have to prepare to be amazed. Nine months in and 2020’s got too many of us pregnant with fear instead of hope. Again, I’ll spare you the recap, but please know that what you give birth to will be the product of one of the two. What do you want to deliver this month? If you’ve been on a steady diet of doom and doubt for the last 8 months, it’s not too late to detox and replenish yourself and the vision living within you.
You owe it to yourself, and the vision you’ve been carrying all this time. Prepare. A lack of preparation will only cause delays in your destiny. 2020 has thrown enough banana peels in your path. Don’t let your own limited thinking hold you back. Here are 7 steps you can take to eliminate self doubt and align yourself with amazing:
[About the Author] Teniqua Pope is a trained and experienced Life Coach, Mediator and Transition Strategist based in Denver, Colorado. Her first guided journal for women, “The Self-Care Dare: A 30 Day Journey to Radical, Unapologetic, Life Affirming Self Love” is set to be released in Fall 2020. To book a complimentary coaching discovery session with her, please visit teniquapope.com
We hope you’re enjoying the shifts in nature. We happen to love Fall for the boots, scarfs and puffy down coats. With all of the leaves turning and trick-or-treating, Fall also brings a shift in time.
This year, on Sunday, November 3rd, the clock will “fall back” one hour at 2:00 AM (making it 1:00 AM). This allows for more light in the morning, but unfortunately makes it darker much sooner in the evenings.
Here are some ways to prepare yourself, your kids and your home for the end of daylight savings this season!
Self-care is the best care! Luckily, Fall daylight savings gives us an extra hour of sleep rather than losing an hour. However, whether you’re gaining or losing an hour, it can still be very disorienting so it’s important to plan ahead. Here’s how to do it:
In the days leading up to the time change, begin to alter your sleep schedule. Because the clocks will be going back an hour, start going to sleep a little earlier or waking up earlier.
For example, if you normally go to sleep at 11:00 PM, the time change will have your body thinking it’s actually 10:00 PM when the clock says 11:00 PM. Going to sleep earlier will prepare your body for that awkward jump.
Daylight savings is known for messing with our circadian rhythms. This means that our whole sleep schedule can get thrown off just by the clocks moving back (or forward) an hour. In order to avoid any additional issues when it comes to getting used to your new sleep schedule, try to avoid any stimulants like caffeine.
Caffeine can keep you from falling asleep at night and can also affect the quality of your sleep. In order to make your transition into daylight savings time a little smoother, try to avoid coffee or soda before and after the clocks fall back.
Get ready for real by setting your clocks back earlier in the day. If there’s one thing that can be confusing about the time change it’s waking up feeling like it should be 9:00 AM and not 8:00 AM.
Set your clocks back an hour the day leading up to the time change. This way you’ll be able to get used to the difference before waking up to it the next day!
Kids seem to take the time change the worst. Young children especially need a solid sleep schedule so the time change can really throw them off. Follow these steps to make sure your kids have an easy transition.
Settle down early. This means really taking the time to prepare your kids for lights out by avoiding too much physical activity close to bedtime. Instead, consider reading a book to your child, playing a movie or even just relaxing together a few hours before bed.
This step ties right in with keeping the nighttime activities calm. Creating a relaxing environment for your children to sleep will help them adjust more easily to the time change. This could be a good time to rearrange their room – so it feels “new”. Make sure your child’s bedroom is dark, cool, comfortable, clutter-free and most importantly–quiet. The more relaxing, the better.
As a parent, you already know. Patience is definitely a virtue. Kids have the hardest time adjusting to the time change. So no matter what, make sure that you’re helping them adjust by being patient and aware of their needs during this time. By following the previous steps, you should have your kids back on track in no time (fingers crossed).
Daylight savings is the perfect time to do some necessary check-ups on your home. Treat this time as a sort of divide in your year to do things you probably want to do bi-annually. Here are some steps for preparing your home for the time change:
All too often we forget to check the batteries in important things like remotes, flashlights and most importantly–smoke alarms! Use this time of preparation to check the batteries of essential household items like these and replace them if necessary.
Fall back can only mean one thing–winter is coming! Get ready.
You can do this by cleaning out your system with a long vacuum hose or with a bristle brush to keep your unit nice and clean for when you use it again in the spring.
As for your heating system, be sure to check your heating vents to see if they’re open and ready to go. You can clean out your furnace the same way you clean out your air conditioning unit–with a long hose or bristle brush.
Like spring cleaning–but for Fall! Consider a deep cleaning or maybe just go through your goods and get rid of some of the things that no longer spark joy.
Whatever you choose to do, cleaning up at the time of daylight savings will have you feeling fresh and ready to go for the winter.
And finally, the most important tip of all. Switching your clocks is the number one way to prepare for the time change this Fall. Fortunately, many cell phones will change the times all on their own but don’t forget to switch your alarm clocks, car clocks, the clocks on your oven and microwave and stove, etc.
Just one forgotten clock could mean leaving late for work or missing your morning workout, so make sure to cover all of your bases!
We, at FIT & NU, hope that these tips will help prepare you, your family and your home for a hassle-free daylight savings switch.
Embrace the changes 2019 has to offer as you prepare for 2020. Happy Holidays!