So many people are trying to figure out what eating style, work out routine, and behavior modifications will result in weight loss. Figuring out what causes weight loss is a complicated process and varies so much from person to person, much of which depends on our physical make up and our current habits. For example, which of these patterns below might result in weight loss for person?
- Eating in restaurants 5 nights/week
- Going from no activity, to implementing a 5 day/week running program
- Eating less fat
- Having dessert every night with dinner
- Switching from a cardio-only routine to a strength-training-only routine
- Counting calories and food journaling
At first glance one might think these are no-brainers, but I believe that these changes could have a variety of different end results, depending on the person. Let’s pick a few apart, shall we?
- Eating in restaurants 5 nights/week – if you never ate in restaurants, this change would probably not be helpful. However, maybe you currently get take-out 7 nights/week, the portions are large, but you finish them anyway, while mindlessly eat in front of the TV. Now, dropping 2 restaurant meals per week and eating at the restaurant, which is more of a mindful experience, and you end up taking left overs home for lunch the next day. HUGE improvement, and likely to result in weight loss (if this was the only change you made).
- No activity to running 5 days/week – Here’s how I see this playing out:
- Day 1 – You go for your run, you don’t get as far as you expected, but you’re still feeling good about it.
- Day 2 – Up and at ’em you are out running again. You do the same distance as yesterday, but you are slightly disappointed that you couldn’t beat your time from the day before.
- Day 3 – Holy sore muscles, Batman! You take the day off, considering it hurts to even walk down the stairs, a run today is out of the question.
- Day 4 – Despite yesterday’s set back, you lace up those running shoes and head out the door, sore muscles be damned! To make up for taking yesterday off, you decide to take a different route with hills, to really get the calorie burn going. You run for the time frame you planned, but on the way back, with your tight muscles and the jarring of running downhill you feel something “bad” happen in your knee. You pull up and hobble home with your injury.
- Days 5 – Day 200 – With your new knee injury, not only is your running program over after 4 days, but your day-to-day activity of walking your dog, taking the stairs at work, walking over to your co-worker’s office versus calling them on the phone is all cut down to next-to-nothing. As a result, you gain 7 pounds.
My point is, the changes that we make in behavior:
a. need to be an improvement over what we are currently doing
b. must be sustainable
c. might work for you, but not someone else
d. must be specific to who you are
Think through one of the bulleted scenarios above as I did. How do you see these changes in behavior playing out for you, if you were to attempt to implement them?