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The Top Five Things People Worry About That Don’t Actually Matter For Weight Loss

The Top Five Things People Worry About That Don’t Actually Matter For Weight Loss

In the world of health & fitness, we’re currently facing a supreme irony: We are more obsessed with health, fitness, and weight loss than ever, yet we are also fatter than ever. This is largely due to our priorities being totally out of whack. The common question people ask is “what more can I do to improve my health & fitness?”

This approach is totally wrong.

The much better question to ask is “what can I stop worrying about to make improving my health & fitness easier?” If the strategy at hand to achieve a goal is simpler, easier, and less time consuming, the more likely you are to succeed. That’s just basic logic.

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With that sentiment, I’m going to share with you the top five things people worry about that don’t actually matter for weight loss. The less nonsense you worry about, the more effort you can focus on the true weight loss fundamentals that matter. Before I get into it, though let me share my personal results in applying what I’m about to share in this article:

simple weight loss before after

    That’s 7 months of solid progress, during which the following was true:

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    • No food type restriction. I ate whatever I wanted (with reasonable moderation)
    • No cardio
    • Weight lifting in the gym 2 – 3 times per week, no longer than 45 minutes per session
    • No meal frequency/timing restriction. There were plenty of huge carb heavy meals late at night
    • Plenty of gluttonous restaurant meals and family dinners

    You’re thinking… “this contradicts everything I know that someone ‘should’ do to lose weight, how is this possible?” Well, as I said, people’s priorities are generally speaking way out of whack when it comes to weight loss. To help get things back “in whack,” here are the top 5 things people worry about for weight loss that don’t actually matter.

    1. Meal Frequency

    Perhaps the most pervasive and damaging fitness myth is that one needs to eat small frequent meals to upkeep the metabolic fire, else enter fat loss stalling “starvation mode.” Let me be clear, there is absolutely zero scientific evidence that this is true. No ward based clinical trials have ever showed that manipulating short term meal frequency influences weight gain/loss or one’s metabolic output. In fact, in reality it takes over 3 days of fasting before there is a measurable decrease in caloric expenditure.

    2. Meal Timing

    Similar to #1, there is no scientific evidence that short term meal timing influences weight gain/loss. As long as your overall caloric intake is under control, it doesn’t matter if you’re pounding carbs at 10:00am or 10:00pm, or if you eat breakfast when you first wake up or after noon.

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    3. Food Selection

    All aboard the fad diet train! Hucksters would love for you to believe that their special food type diet holds the magic key to weight loss: Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan, Low Carb, Low Fat, the list goes on and on. But, aside from a small metabolic and satiety advantage garnered from higher protein intake, the food you eat for weight loss really doesn’t matter all that much. A nutrition professor shows us this with his ground breaking Twinkie weight loss diet.

    I’m not saying you can eat whatever you want, or that healthy eating isn’t important. Just understand that a “clean” diet in excess is still a diet in excess. To lose weight, you have to eat less than you burn, one way or another. And, a little junk here and there won’t stall weight loss, as long as you’re maintaining that negative energy balance.

    4. Exercise

    Of course you need to exercise to lose weight, right? No, you don’t. If you’re burning more energy than you’re consuming over time, you’ll lose weight. It doesn’t matter if you do it by increasing your caloric expenditure with working out, or if you decrease your caloric intake by eating less. They are both means to the same end.

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    Don’t take me as saying exercise isn’t important. It is, of course, but do understand that begrudgingly adhering to an unsustainable hour+ a day of cardio regiment is not necessary for weight loss. Rather, focus on doing exercise that you enjoy, makes you feel good, and improves your health. Exercising with the primary goal of weight loss is not an effective strategy.

    5. Too Much Carbohydrate or Fat Intake

    The crux of virtually every fad diet is the ostensible restriction of carbs or fat. Too many grams of a so called boogeyman nutrient and you’ll stall your weight loss. It’s bogus. You can only eat too much fat or carbohydrate insofar as you’re eating too many calories. As long as your caloric intake over time is under control, it really doesn’t matter how much of each you eat. Optimal fat and carb intake depends on the person, their activity levels, and their lifestyle. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into ostensible macronutrient restriction to adhere to a fad diet. Do eat in such a way that you feel/perform your best. That optimal way will be different for everyone.

    Conclusion

    At the end of the day, if you’re eating less calories than you burn over time, you will lose weight. It’s pretty much a scientifically infallible truth at this point. No matter what else you do, if that condition is met you will lose weight.

    The take home point: Stop worrying about anything else, especially if it comes at the expense of worrying about that.

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    Pete Anthony

    Pete is a health and fitness specialist. He helps people achieve their health and fitness goals with the least amount of effort possible.

    10 Weight Loss Tips to Help You Lose Weight the Easy Way The Top Five Things People Worry About That Don’t Actually Matter For Weight Loss 10 Great Weight Loss Foods That Are Really Easy To Prep

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    Last Updated on November 9, 2020

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

    Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

    Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

    If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

    Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

    1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

    Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

    Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

    Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

    2. No Motivation

    Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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    This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

    If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

    3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

    Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

    A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

    A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

    The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

    4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

    One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

    We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

    Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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    You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

    5. Upward Comparisons

    Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

    The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

    These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

    Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

    6. No Alternative

    This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

    Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

    Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

    Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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    7. Stress

    As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

    When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

    We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

    If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

    8. Sense of Failure

    People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

    Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

    Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

    If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

    9. The Need to Be All-New

    People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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    These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

    10. Force of Habit

    Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

    Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

    These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

    Final Thoughts

    These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

    There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

    More on Breaking Bad Habits

    Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
    [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
    [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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