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Diets Don’t Work: Why “How to Lose Weight Fast” Is the Wrong Question

Diets Don’t Work: Why “How to Lose Weight Fast” Is the Wrong Question

Searching the Internet for “how to lose weight fast” is just as absurd as falling for a get rich quick scam. Discover why diets don’t work (and what to do about it).

“Diets don’t work,” says science.

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” – Julia Child

An analysis by UCLA published in the journal American Psychologist discovered that dieting does not work. Researchers performed a comprehensive analysis of 31 diet studies to determine their long-term effectiveness. While most dieters typically lost 5-10% of their starting weight in the first 6 months, the results didn’t last; at least one-third to one-half of the dieters regained all of their weight (and then some) within 4-5 years. As UCLA researchers concluded in their analysis, “There is little support for the notion that diets lead to lasting weight loss or health benefits.”

Get Rid of Your “All or Nothing” Mentality

“Moderation in all things.” – Aristotle

Any diet that depends on eliminating entire food groups is destined for failure. Recall when you were a child: a parent or teacher might have told you something like “Do NOT touch anything in this store!” What did you then proceed to do? I bet you touched ALL of the things. It’s funny how it becomes more tempting to do something as soon as it becomes “forbidden.”

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Food works in the same way. The more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you’re going to want it. And besides, do you really want to live in a world where garlic toast, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies are outlawed forevermore?

This isn’t to say you don’t have to make sacrifices if you want to get fit and healthy, but extremist “All or Nothing” diets aren’t the way to do it. Sure, you might lose weight fast, but that doesn’t mean the pounds will stay off. And if you don’t sustain it, what’s the point?

If you don’t heed this warning, here’s what’s gonna happen:

1. You’ll do great for the first few weeks (or months if you’re lucky) and lose a bit of weight.

2. You’ll start craving those delicious foods you’re depriving yourself of more and more with every passing day, until you lose your cool and go on a binge-eating rampage.

3. You’ll feel guilty, beat yourself up, decide you might as well give up, and find yourself right back where you started.

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Stop Demanding Perfection of Yourself

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life… And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan

If Michael Jordan could win NBA championships while missing over 9,000 shots, I’m pretty sure you can successfully lose weight despite the occasional setback. Eating a few peanut butter cookies at a holiday party isn’t worth pushing the Panic Button over. Just like a single healthy meal won’t make you go down a waist-size, eating a single unhealthy meal won’t make you go up one. If you do make a mistake, don’t freak out. Take a deep breathe; count to 10; and ask yourself, “Why did this happen and how can I make better decisions in the future?”

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about those “lazy days.”

There are always going to be those crappy days where you just don’t feel like doing anything (much less exercising), so you don’t. Let’s face it: I have them, too and I’m a trainer (why yes, I am human!). Show me a person who claims to be without fault or weakness and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

It’s 100% possible that your desire to have a “Walking Dead” marathon might trump your desire to be fit on occasion. This is okay, but it cannot become habit. Remind yourself that your long-term want (get fit and healthy) is more important than your short-term want (watch zombies eat brains).

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Here’s why this is so very important:

I’ve noticed a tendency in certain people. They make one little insignificant mistake and allow it to spiral out of control until it screws up their entire fitness plan. They break their diet once by eating a piece of cake, or they miss a couple of workouts in a row, or whatever the case may be. These people then proceed to agonize over their mistakes, beat themselves up for being so “stupid,” and call it quits.

Make a mistake? Learn from it and try again. Don’t wallow in guilt and regret, or you’re going to convince yourself you’re a failure, which is the furthest thing from the truth—you’re merely human. Nobody’s perfect. I promise.

Strive for Consistency (Not Perfection)

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn

Yes, you have to make sacrifices if you want to become fit and healthy.

Yes, you must have focus and discipline to achieve your goal.

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No, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional treat.

No, the world won’t end if you make a mistake.

You probably shouldn’t eat creme-filled doughnuts every day; but life is meant to be fun, and the occasional indulgence won’t hurt you as long as you make positive decisions most of the time.

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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