The majority of this information has been excerpted from the book “Boomer Be Well! Rebel Against Aging through Food, Nutrition and Lifestyle©,” by Susan M. Piergeorge, MS, RD, which, is available in both print and ebook format. Click on the books tab on this website for more information to order.
One of the more difficult things about changing patterns and habits in regards to food is that we need to eat. It’s part of the body’s automatic program of staying alive. We need food because our bodies need nutrients. That’s what hunger tells us. “Going on a diet” is similar to taking a vacation. It is a temporary change. When we come back from the “vacation” we go back to our previous routine. Some of us are experts are losing weight. We set the goal of weight loss, go on a diet, and when we accomplish the desired weight loss, we’ve accomplished the goal.
Initially, we enjoy how we feel and look, and the compliments people give us are rewarding. We relax and celebrate what we have accomplished. After a while, old habits return. All of a sudden, the weight has come back, and we are back to going on yet another diet. Thus, the cycle continues. There is always some new type of “diet” popping up or being resurrected. While there are more diets out there than ever imaginable, evidence has shown that the majority of them aren’t working. While many people may lose weight while on them, over time many gain the weight back and then some.
Michael Dansinger, M.D., of the Tufts-New England Medical Center, and his colleagues looked at results from 46 weight-loss diets totaling nearly 12,000 participants. They reported that the average weight loss was 6 percent, with most dieters regaining all the weight they lost within five years. There was no weight-loss drug or diet that reflected a better result.1 One reason many diets and weight-loss programs are not long lasting is they don’t address individual needs, lifestyle, culture, race, religion, gender, age, food intolerances, etc. What has been shown to be effective is that when people make changes to their lifestyle, they tend to improve their overall health.
The First Step
One of the keys to success is becoming conscious. They put the thought and actions into what worked for their individual lifestyle. Many weight-loss packages, programs and pills can be expensive. Some may have lasting results; some do not. Rather than spending the money on yet another expensive program that does not necessarily have statistics going for it, putting the effort into making a few dietary and lifestyle changes based on how you live may end up costing less in the long run. Reducing body weight can reduce risk factors for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer. It also helps us feel better emotionally and physically. Develop your own regimen for life and not for the short term.
Discuss your intentions with your healthcare practitioner and he or she may have more suggestions for other tests depending on your medical history. Evidence shows that even the slightest increase in physical activity and changes in diet can have significant effects on your health. All you need to do is take the first step. It begins with our thoughts and beliefs.
Our actions are the result of our thoughts. We develop habits and associations of things, and once established we rarely veer from them. We get used to routine. A habit takes time to develop. Changing habits take time as well. On average, it takes three to six months to develop a new behavior. Emotions are also woven into behaviors and reactions. Many of us don’t realize how we weave patterns of “protection” into our lives.
For example, some folks use food or cigarettes as a protective barrier between themselves and others. Food/cigarettes become their only friend that never lets them down and is always there for them. But when the weight is lost, or the smoker has quit, the barrier is gone, and so is the friend. Visualizing and planning strategies prior to making any change can be a key to success. Learning how to avoid falling into those old habits is a challenge. The more time you take to make a change or replace a behavior, the more likely it will stay with you for the long term.
There are a lot of success stories out there for people who have improved their quality of life and health. The majority of those folks adapted a new lifestyle their way. They did not deprive themselves, or spend copious amounts of money on pills, potions, and packaging. They ate foods they liked, learned how to incorporate exercise into their lives, and developed a way to deal with stress that was healthy for them. It took time, along with adapting and changing behavior. Those are all positive efforts that can lead to great results.
The Second Step
We all know some changes can be tough. While everyone has their own way of accomplishing something, many people have been successful in keeping a journal. Along with keeping a journal, some people write small notes and post them in places to remind them of their goal(s). Before implementing a new pattern keep a journal of your daily activities. Be as specific as you can. Keep a journal of some sort for a few weeks before making any change.
The journal could include time of day for all activities such as eating patterns, amount of food eaten, emotions, physical activity, and stress load. The overall purpose is to give a realistic reflection of your lifestyle. You may be surprised that simply keeping a journal is an eye opening journey in becoming conscious. Make sure to read and review it on a regular basis.
In Part 3 we will explore additional behavior strategies.
1. “Slim differences in weight-loss plans,” Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, October, 2007, 25 (8): 3.