Beth Hubrich pushes small portions and cutting calories to lose weight
Everybody and their momma is recommending weight loss advice for the new year and it's only gonna get worse over the next two weeks. Sigh.
When I saw this press release from a non-profit association of companies that product light foods and beverages called the Calorie Control Council, I just had to cringe. The headline reads, "Health-Conscious Trends for Weight Loss in 2006: Small Changes Are 'In'."
"Small" changes? Really? Is that what lasting weight loss is all about? Small changes? When I started livin' la vida low-carb on January 1, 2004, there were some IMMEDIATE and VERY BIG changes that had to take place. Those 18 sugary sodas I was drinking every single day had to stop! The gobs and gobs of sugary snacks I was consuming ended, too. No more rice, pasta, potatoes, white bread or anything containing high quantities of carbohydrates could enter my mouth.
This was a HUGE change that needed to be done so I could eventually become the 180+ pound weight loss success story I am today. While I am all for incremental changes regarding weight loss, I'm thinking more along the lines of when I will begin to cut back on the number of diet sodas I drink or consciously adding back more fruits and vegetables to my diet. But when you are needing to lose weight because you are overweight or obese, your goal needs to be BIG changes to bring about the results you need to get your weight under control.
According to a 2004 survey of 1,800 adults conducted by the Calorie Control Council, one-third of Americans, which amounts to 71 million people, are currently on some kind of weight loss program. They note that this is "the highest number
of dieters in the past 15 years."
While I appreciate that they recommend people implement "lifestyle changes" to bring about lasting weight control, I disagree with Executive Director Beth Hubrich's "small changes" recommendation.
"By reducing portions, controlling calories, adding more activity, people cannot only lose weight but also control their weight without feeling deprived," Hubrich contends. "These small changes are lifestyle changes and hopefully that is what 2006 will bring -- a focus onhealthy changes that can be maintained for life."
That sounds so simple doesn't it? Just eat less and exercise more and you'll make yourself fit and trim, buddy. Get 'er done! Unfortunately, this game plan is not based in reality. As someone who has heard this foolish message about how to control his weight his entire life, I could not disagree any more with it.
Controlling your weight is not about cutting back on the amount of food eaten, but rather on what kind of foods are eaten. Additionally, you don't need to count your calories or fat grams, but simply keep track of the carbohydrate totals in the foods you eat.
I can appreciate the "add more activity" aspect of weight control and I promote regular exercise as one of the reasons for my success in my book, "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb."
As for the weight loss trends for 2006, Hubrich and the Calorie Control Council predict these are the answers to obesity coming over the next year (please allow me to respond to each one since they are so out in left field!). A quick look at the sponsors who have a vested interest in these findings should help you understand the rationale behind these dubious predictions:
1. Portion control becomes easier: For many consumers who have a hard time knowing when to stop, pre-portioned snacks may be an answer. Snacks such as the 100-calorie packs and mini-sized cans of soda allow adults and children to enjoy their favorite treats with fewer calories. Additional companies are likely to roll out similar product lines as these snacks continue to fly off the shelves.
No wonder Americans keep going on an off diets more often than Elizabeth Taylor changes husbands! The "portion control" lie we've been fed for decades has frustrated people who want to be successful at weight loss but quickly get tired of the hunger pangs that can literally keep them awake at night craving a Big Mac, Supersized French Fries, and Large Coke from McDonalds. Can you tell I've been in that boat before?
While those "100-calorie" snack packs are all well and good and may "fly off the shelves," they are not the weight loss answer Hubrich is making them out to be. The sugar content of those foods are still excessively high which means they are still full of carbs. In other words, you'll still be subjecting your body to the sugar spikes that so often lead people to crave even more sugar and more and more until you finally give in and eat a whole package of Oreo cookies in one sitting. Can I get a witness? I can't tell you how many times I've done that.
Not anymore, though! The low-carb lifestyle has ended my cravings for sugar carbs that I once thought I could never live without. Now I don't see how I could ever eat sugar again! Isn't God so good for bringing about such a dramatic change in me?! He'll do the same for you, too! :)
2. Consumers will make simple substitutions: The average American gains one to three pounds every year, according to the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Eating just 50 fewer calories a day can result in a five-pound weight loss over the course of a year, avoiding the dreaded weight gain. As a result, more consumers will begin making simple substitutions in their meals and snacks. For example, choosing a light yogurt in place of a full-calorie yogurt can save 130 calories and choosing light lemonade over the full-calorie version will save 98 calories. Many companies now feature light, low-calorie or sugar-free versions of their products and consumers will increasingly use these products to save calories.
While choosing a sugar-free version of a food you enjoy is an excellent way to keep your carbs under control, be careful of any packaging that advertises itself as "light, low-calorie." This deceptive marketing strategy may fool you into purchasing a product that may contain more sugar and carbohydrates than you really need. I cannot emphasize this enough -- READ NUTRIONAL LABELS!!! Stop worrying about calories (they count, but you don't have to count them!) and pay attention to the amount of carbohydrates you put in your mouth. This will save you a lot of heartache and frustration as you attempt to lose weight and improve your health.
3. Companies will continue to fight obesity with more corporate wellness: Obesity costs employers approximately $12.7 billion each year in health care costs (36 percent higher for obese employees), medications, paid sick leave and life insurance policies, according to the Washington Business Group on Health. According to Hewitt Associates (which specializes in Human Resources), 72 percent of U.S. companies are now offering programs to help employees lose weight and live healthier lifestyles. Corporate wellness and e-dieting programs discourage the "fad diet" mentality and instead teach health-conscious employees to count calories and make lifestyle changes. "Weight loss via the web has now been proven to be a successful method and gives people the benefit of 24/7 support," says Hubrich.
While employers want their employees to be productive, I don't think the advice to "count calories and make lifestyle changes" in and of itself is helping anyone right now. If it did, then America would be a fit and trim nation. Unfortunately, we are anything but that. The obsession with counting calories has got to be qualified for people. When you start livin' la vida low-carb and pay attention to your carbs, the calorie intake automatically decreases because you are more satisfied with the foods you eat and they keep you feeling full longer. This is so easy, I don't understand why everyone doesn't start low-carb? It's a no-brainer!
4. Sugar-free gum gains popularity: The popularity of sugar-free gum will continue to rise as consumers find small ways to cut calories from their diet. In 2004, sales of sugar-free chewing gum accounted for more than 70 percent of gum sales in the U.S., according to Information Resources, Inc. Sugar-free gum is a great alternative to a higher-calorie snack or dessert. Chewing gum also has additional benefits: Research from the University of Liverpool indicates that chewing gum not only helps suppress the appetite but may also help cut cravings for sweets. Sales of sugar-free gum and candy will continue to increase as companies produce different varieties and tastes, using an assortment of reduced-calorie sweeteners.
Why focus on just sugar-free gum? How about sugar-free chocolates? Or sugar-free yogurt? There are a while line of sugar-free food and beverage options out there to enjoy that will keep your body's desire for something sweet satisfied while keeping the negative impact of sugar on your health and waistline away. Sweet!
5. Pedometers track success at little cost: To help incorporate physical activity into their hectic schedules, more consumers will take advantage of the pedometer in hopes of walking 10,000 steps a day, which is approximately 5 miles. The pedometer will encourage people to get up and get moving. Programs such as "Colorado on the Move" and "Shape Up America" help encourage people to walk 10,000 steps a day to prevent obesity.
A pedometer is nice, but how about jumping on that treadmill for 30 minutes a day? That'll give you all the exercise you need to keep your heart healthy, get your blood flowing, and sweat away the pounds.
The Calorie Control Council believes these trends will help people "achieve the weight loss goal they hope for" in 2006. But don't count on it. It's going to take a radical change in your mind to make weight loss happen for you. It must begin with you desiring weight loss so much that you will be unwilling to give up regardless of the circumstance. Take that "can't-lose" attitude with you everywhere you go and stick with the plan. Come back in a year and celebrate your success with me.
Regardless of your weight loss method, it's time for you to make it happen. Stop the excuses and don't you dare give up! If you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off permanently, then you are the deciding factor about whether that will happen or not. Believe in yourself and don't let anyone or anything discourage you. This is about YOU and YOU alone.
Forget what has happened in the past because it is long behind you. Today is YOUR day to shine and make it happen. I've been in your shoes as a 410-pound man who nearly gave up hope and quite possibly could be dead today had I not lost an enormous amount of weight. It all started with that first step. Muster up the courage to take that first step and don't ever look back. Your new life awaits you in less time that you think!
Please feel free to e-mail me anytime if you need a lift!
12-24-05 UPDATE: A weight loss coach from overseas named Janice decided to blog about this post at her ThinkSlim blog.
With "news and views about healthy diets, fitness and weight loss," Janice attempts to help people who need to lose weight and keep it off for good.
She and I engaged in an intelligent and civil conversation about our differences in philosophy regarding weight loss methods. I appreciate her willingness to hear my point of view and I certainly respect her side of the matter as well.
See, we CAN get along even when we disagree. :)