As we move into the new year, many people are focusing on their weight loss and health goals for the year. There are so many diets and weight loss products out there, all saying different things, that it’s very confusing to know what’s right and what’s not. But before you get started on your eating plan or weight loss regime, let’s debunk 4 of the most common weight loss myths.With these in mind, you’ll have the best chance of success wherever you decide to focus your efforts.
Myth number 1: Eating less and exercising more is the only way to lose weight
This theory, which was popularised back in the 1950’s, is outdated and untrue. Research is starting to show that our bodies are not just simple input-output machines, and that there are many more contributing factors to weight regulation than just calories in vs. calories out. In fact, punishing exercise and depriving the body of calories eventually leads to an inability to lose weight in the long term. Just ask a chronic dieter, who’s been trying to lose weight on and off for years, and they’ll tell you that the harder they try, the more difficult it becomes to lose weight. The answer: stop counting calories and listen to your body’s natural desires for food and movement.
Myth number 2: We have to follow a perfect diet for sustainable weight loss
We have been led to believe by nutrition and weight loss experts that the only way to sustain weight loss is to religiously follow a particular diet. The right foods in the right amounts is the only way to reach your perfect weight and stay there, whilst achieving optimal health. But what we eat is only part of the equation. How we eat, and indeed how we are in the world has a direct effect on our metabolism and calorie burning capacity. For example, eating fast and in a state of stress dramatically decreases digestive capacity and nutrient uptake & assimilation. Becoming more present and experiencing your meal with all your senses – no matter what you are choosing to eat – regulates appetite, digestion and metabolism.
Myth number 3: Lack of willpower is what causes us to overeat and gain weight
The good news is that there is no such thing as a lack of willpower when it comes to food. When we say we struggle with willpower, what we are actually saying is we can’t control our appetite. And indeed it is true – we can’t control appetite – but we are not meant to! Appetite is regulated unconsciously by the body, not by the conscious mind. Just like breathing, you can exercise control over your appetite for a short period of time, but for the most part it is an unconscious, natural desire that occurs on a physiological level. Fear of appetite leads to overeating, and desensitises us to the meal and its nutrients. Meal skipping and ignoring appetite only increases our appetite later on. The trick: learn to honour, trust and listen to your appetite, and it will keep you satisfied and show you exactly what your body truly needs to maintain your ideal weight.
Myth number 4: Fat in food makes us fat
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst a diet consisting mainly of poor quality, saturated fats can contribute to weight gain, not all fats are equal. Our bodies require essential fatty acids and good quality fats (such as the omegas found in seeds and some fish) to function optimally, and without them our bodies are more likely to start storing fat in the cells rather than burning it. In fact, a condition called Subclinical Fat Deficiency (a nutritional lack of good quality fats) results in symptoms such as inability to lose weight, fatigue, irritability, low mood and even a lack of periods. The answer: make sure your diet is rich in the right fats, and this will help the body regulate weight naturally and easily.
From punishment to nourishment
The diet culture that is promoted in the media today encourages a controlling and punishing relationship with food and body. To reach our ideal weight – and stay there – one needs to foster a more nourishing and sensual relationship with ourselves: our physical body and our desire for food – that which sustains us. Allowing ourselves to hear the wisdom in nature – in ourselves…. not working against the body but WITH it, in a collaborative and instinctual way. Trusting that there is something greater than us here, to lead and guide us to where we are supposed to be.
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In love and nourishment,