Summer Weight Loss: Three Phases to Lasting Success
As summer approaches and we shed our winter coats for T-shirts, dresses and bathing suits, millions of Canadians are facing the reality of their winter weight gain. For many, the thought of squeezing into last year’s summer clothes can be disheartening. Currently 6 out of every 10 adults in Canada are overweight or obese. That means most of us are not maintaining a healthy weight. Now you might be asking yourself: “I know I have a few extra pounds, but is it unhealthy?” The best way to determine if those extra pounds are putting you at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke is to measure your waist and hips.
Wrap a measuring tape around your waist at your bellybutton and then around the widest part of your hips and write down the numbers. No sucking it in! If your waist is bigger than 40 inches (102 cm) for men or 35 inches (89 cm) for women, your weight is definitely a health concern. Next, divide your waist measurement by your hips (waist/hips). If the number is more than 1 for men or more than 0.8 for women, that too is unhealthy - even if your waist measurement was normal. If these numbers are fine but you still feel flabby, you can measure your % body fat with a bioimpedance device to find out more about your body composition.
Trying to lose weight can be discouraging. Despite being motivated to be healthier and look sexier, you may find that the results of your attempts don’t seem to last. So why do people have such a hard time losing weight? While the specific answer is different for everyone, chances are you are stuck in one of the following three phases:
Phase 1: You don’t know what you should be doing to lose weight.
Phase 2: You aren’t aware of what you are actually doing that is stopping you from losing weight.
Phase 3: You haven’t been able to change what you are actually doing so that you can lose weight.
While this may seem simplistic, it is essential to know what you are doing wrong so that you can change it. Often, people interpret their lack of result as a personal failure, and lose confidence. The truth is that anyone can lose weight if they continue to progress through the three phases.
Here are some common roadblocks in each phase:
Phase 1 – What you should be doing: Most people don’t realize that their diet contains far too many grains. Grains are a dense source of carbohydrates and calories with very little water or protein. For example, 100 grams of brown rice has 10 times the calories as 100 grams of strawberries.
Phase 2 – What you are actually doing: Most people see results in the first stages of exercise because going from completely sedentary to even taking a 10-minute walk is a drastic increase in activity. However, after 2-3 weeks of doing the same routine it’s not exercise anymore! As you increase your fitness your body becomes more efficient and you burn fewer calories doing the same activities.
Phase 3 – Changing what you are doing: Often people have underlying beliefs or fears that stop them from following through with what they know they should be doing. Motivation is about more than willpower; it is about having a clear understanding of your goals and connecting regularly to the real reasons you want to lose weight. It also means having systems in place that facilitate follow-through and reward achievements.
Finally it is important to realize that these phases are cyclic rather than linear. Once you have succeeded in Phase 3 you must go back to Phase 1 and reassess whether the actions you set out to take are still appropriate. Most importantly, be patient. Think about how long you have been at your current weight. If you lost 1-2 lbs consistently every week, by this time next year you would have lost up to 100 lbs!