Based on more than 100 years of research by scientists, doctors, nutritionists, and psychologists, Dr. Markey’s plan addresses the underlying causes of weight gain and offers proven strategies for healthful, lasting weight management, including advice on how to eat well, lose weight, and keep it off. In Smart People Don’t Diet, Dr. Charlotte N. Markey offers a refreshingly different approach to weight management.
Maintaining a desired weight for the rest of your life is possible
One of the essential ingredients in my recipe for weight management is to make changes to your eating and activity patterns that you believe you can maintain for the rest of your life.
When people lose weight they want to keep it off. Gaining it back is typically viewed as a sort of personal failure. However, what you may not realize is that this failure is almost inevitable. If you followed a plan that required you to eliminate something from your diet–say sugar or carbs–that you didn’t really intend to continue to eliminate from your diet for the rest of your life, then it was predictable that when you added these foods back to your diet you would gain weight.
Why diets don’t work
- Dieting makes you cranky
One of the first studies that set out to understand the link between food deprivation and mood examined conscientious objectors during the World War II. These people consented to participate in a semistarvation diet for six months with the aim of reducing their current body weight by 25 percent. They became obsessed with food. They also became more socially withdrawn, depressed, and irritable. They lost interest in sex, and at least one was said to have participated in self-mutilation. In other words, they became extremely cranky.
- The more you think about dieting, the more you want to eat
Modern studies confirm the findings from the semistarvation study and elaborate on them. When you believe you are supposed to limit the amount or types of foods you eat, you usually want to eat only those foods–and a lot of them. So if you tell yourself that you will not eat pasta or bread, you will soon find yourself desiring spaguetti pomodoro with a baguette. Food preoccupation is an almost inevitable result of dieting.
- Dieting makes you feel bad
Some individuals become so concerned about the numbers on the scale that what they ‘think’ they weigh becomes more important than what they actually weigh. People who diet regularly don’t only experience low self-esteem but also believe that they are more unattractive, unhealthy, bad, weak, lazy, and out of control than did people who don’t diet regularly.
Phase One: Honestly weigh in
Don’t wait until Monday. Don’t wait until January 1 or bathing suit season. Start today!
But before you get started, it’s important that you recognize that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to healthy weight loss and management. You need to understand your eating patterns and preferences, why and when you do or don’t exercise, and how all of this makes you feel. The best place to start is by monitoring what you eat and when you exercise over the course of an average week. Being honest with yourself and really getting to know your habits is incredibly important.
Phase Two: Bite by bite
The goal is not to eliminate all your unhealthy food choices; a life without cake may not be worth living. The goal is to identify healthy food that you can see yourself regularly eating and enjoying and to identify physical activities that you will regularly do more of or be willing to add to your daily routine. You need to establish healthy habits that can be sustained across the rest of your life.
Phase Three: Eat smarter
As far as calories relate to your weight loss and weight management, all you really need to remember is that, when your intake of calories is greater than the calories you expend, you will gain weight. Simply put, if you want to lose weight, you should reduce the amount of calories that you consume and burn more energy by exercising.
Complement Smart People Don’t Diet with Why dieting doesn’t usually work?, where neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt uses her personal story to frame an important lesson about how our brains manage our bodies, as she explores the science behind why dieting not only doesn’t work, but is likely to do more harm than good.