Edited 2019: With Hashimoto's, resistant weight loss is a real issue. And getting our thyroid to work properly, with the liver and adrenals and the entire endocrine system, takes time. But...there is still more to consider. For EVERYONE looking to lose weight. These are thoughts to consider. Please read on.
"But, Jenn! I keep dieting and exercising and the scale won't budge! What am I doing wrong?", exclaims Client X, Y and Z and Girlfrends 1, 2, and 3.
Believe me, I used to ask the same thing -- over and over and over -- and did the same thing -- over and over and over -- and got the same dismal results -- over and over and...then I cracked the code! I found my answer in three words.
Diets don't work.
I know! It's a painful truth. Or is it? Wouldn't it be great to know you never have to utter the word diet again?
Here are the stats:
20% of American adults are on a diet. (Honestly? WHo do you know who isn't on a diet??)
Yet, 34.9%, or 78.6 million, are obese;
And 9.3%, or 29 million, have diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes -- while another 8 million are undiagnosed
If diets worked, we wouldn't have this problem.
The original Oxford English definition of diet points loud and clear to the reason diets don’t work. The term "diet” was defined as,
“Prescribed course of food, restricted in kind or limited in quantity, especially for medical or penal reasons; regiment ”.
This was as early as the 14th Century. It’s unfathomable why a term linked to describe restriction and punishment is still used for how we eat today. How is that motivating?
However, this 14th Century definition does help to boil down the two of the three real reasons that diets just don’t work:
1) Restriction. By restricting calories, we are essentially telling our body, our brain, that we are starving. Our brain thinks "danger!!" and responds with cortisol. This continues over time, and we are in a state of too much glucose, insulin resistance, and resistance to leptin -- the hormone that tells us that we are full and to stop eating.
Restriction is also counter-productive because weight loss is truly about eating more.
How can this be? How can we tell people to eat MORE when so many are already overweight?
It’s not about the amount of food, or the number of calories, it’s about eating more nutrients. Eating REAL.
People are obese for a multitude of reasons that I’ll explain later. But, it’s not because they are eating too many nutrients!
Eating low quality food signals the brain that we are in a nutrient deficit, causing us to crave and eat MORE. People think dieting is about willpower, continually battling themselves to “make it work”, when the odds are against them as their undernourished state causes their bodies to keep asking to be fed!
Restriction doesn't work.
2) Punishment. When we starve our bodies of nutrients, we are punishing our systems. When we let a diet make the rules and tell us food is bad, that WE are bad, we feel as though we are being punished. What does a toddler do when placed in a time-out? Kick and scream and cry. This is what diets do to fully functioning adults. Believe me, I have been there. Not pretty! Whether it’s from bland food, fake food, too little food, or impossible guidelines...people quit. Or they revolt! And, thus, the cycle begins!
Punishment doesn't work.
So, what's the third reason diets don't work?
3) Biological and psychological individuality. Even with so many different diets out there, nothing but a custom plan can work for an individual.
Just as we each look different on the outside, we are different on the inside. It’s not just what we eat but what our body can do with what we eat. We all have different metabolisms, and not just in terms of speed, but different nutritional needs or deficiencies that affect how we break down, store, and eliminate food. All bodies have different levels of inflammation -- whether from food allergies and intolerances, toxins, or disease (like Hashimoto's!) -- and inflammation makes losing weight completely impossible.
But even more importantly, every individual has a psychological history with food, with eating, with emotions, with stress.