Ditch The Diet For A Healthier New You

‘Yo-yo dieting’ describes the pattern of losing weight quickly and continually, then piling it back soon after the loss. This is the kind of thing that happens on a fad or crash diet, and what we didn’t know, until very recently, is that yo-yo dieting actually weakens the immune system. It is bad for your health.

A US study of 114 postmenopausal women, led by Professor Cornelia Ulrich, found that those with a history of yo-yo dieting had much lower white blood cell levels than those whose weight had stayed steady. The white blood cells are the body’s defence against bugs, and the more you yo-yo, the more prone to infection and illness you’ll be. It’s not that dieting per se is reducing immunity, but the failure to maintain a steady weight over time is causing us to be less resistant to disease.

And frequent dieting means weight becomes harder to lose, and is easier to put on. The British Dietetic Association supports this notion in their survey of 4,000 Brits – it found that one third of crash dieters put on more than 14 pounds following their diet and ended up heavier than when they began.

Diets get boring, or are too restrictive, and become difficult to maintain but easy to break. It’s not uncommon for women to then binge and starve in desperation. Food becomes a ‘luxury’ and is then consumed in large amounts, only to be quickly followed by guilt and panic and further restriction.

The dieting cycle is not easy to sever, the feeling of losing control when the pounds creep back on is the feeling that urges dieters to get back on the dieting treadmill. We have the Atkins Plan, The Zone, The GI, the South Beach Diet, The Hay Diet, and the Cabbage Soup diet to name but a few.

Frantic in our attempts to shed pounds, we buy the book, try it for a week (or two?), have limited success and then go back to square one – with some extra pounds on top. Why persist on endless diets that always fail? These books all claim to be the way forward, and yet obesity is on the increase.

The relationship many women have with food is a complex one, and needs to be individually resolved to adopt a healthier attitude to eating. Is it just that you’re choosing the wrong foods, or do you have a love-hate relationship with food? Do you overeat when you’re bored/lonely/depressed, or when you’re happy and celebrating life?

It really is time to ditch the diet. How many plans have you tried and failed? Each occasion you promise yourself it will be different. Knowing the harm that the repetitive cycle of yo-yoing is doing – making you fatter and reducing immunity in the process – means it’s time to get off the treadmill.

As someone who broke the cycle of dieting over a year ago, I decided to devote a blog to the topic, which can be seen here: Chocolate and Beyond. Women need to look long and hard at their relationship with food, and consider how they can start being in control, rather than allowing food be in control of them. Learn the principles of intuitive eating (or ‘normal eating’) and how to trust your body to know what it needs, in order to lose weight and regain your sanity.

© Andrea Wren, January 2008

Ditch the Hard-to-Get-Rid-of Belly Fat With These 3 Tips to Boost Your Metabolism

If there’s one part of the body which even fitness experts find difficult to work out, that is none other than the abdominal muscles. Due to the sedentary lifestyle that a lot of people lead, there seems to be a lot of individuals who carry around unsightly paunches in their stomachs.

Whether you ‘fondly’ call it beer belly, love handles or just plain old belly fat which is hard to get rid of, the number one thing that you need to remember is that there is a way for you to trim it: by boosting your metabolism.

You may notice how older people find it more difficult to get rid of belly fat as compared to younger individuals, and the speed of metabolism has something to do with this. Aside from age, your body composition, genetics, diet, stress and body composition are the other factors which affect the speed of your metabolism.

So what can you do if you want to ditch the hard-to-get-rid-of belly fat? Take a look at these five tips on how to boost up your metabolism rate:

1. Go for weight training.

There’s a reason why you would often see bodybuilders with six pack abs working hard in the gym with their dumbbells. Weight training is a great way to build muscle and boost up your metabolism.

Unlike crash diets where it is only your water weight which is being shed, going for weight training will actually help you build muscles mass and burn off more calories even while you’re resting in between workouts.

2. Watch what you eat.

This may sound like typical weight loss advice, but if you really want to lose the paunch in your stomach, you do need to watch what you eat. Here are the main things that you need to remember.

First, start the day right by not skipping on your morning meals. Having a complete, nutritious breakfast is great way to boost your metabolism and will reduce the temptation for you to overeat during lunch or dinner.

Second, stay away from sugary foods. Try to have more spicy foods that make you sweat – it’s a great way to boost your metabolism.

Also, drink lots of water, consume a lot of fruits and veggies, have smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day and try to make a meal plan in advance so that you can stick to a diet that will make you lose the excess fat stored in your stomach in the first place.

3. Drink up on green tea.

Finally, instead of indulging in your caffeine fix, drink green tea instead. Aside from the health benefits that it brings, green tea is also a natural metabolism booster.

By following these tips, you can be on your way towards losing the belly fat and say hi to a leaner, more fit body.

Ditching the Diet

With spring and summer approaching, many people will be franticly trying to lose some weight in a bid to look good on the beach.

It would appear that we are indeed a nation obsessed with weight loss, and a search for the word “diet” on Amazon will return 26,972 results for books on the subject. Google comes up with 251,000,000 websites dedicated to the cause.

However recent studies have shown that diets are not the best way to lose weight in the long term. Those that do manage to shed some weight will usually be back to their pre-diet weight within 5 years, and in some cases will have actually gained weight.

“Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.You can initially lose 5 to 10% of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back” said Professor Traci Mann, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Professor Mann and her team followed people on a variety of commercial diets for between two and five years. The results concluded that most people would have been better off not dieting at all.

“What happens to people on diets in the long run?” Mann asked. “We concluded most of them would have been better off not going on the diet at all. Their weight would be pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back.”

In fact 83% of dieters followed for more than two years eventually put more weight back on than they had lost. Some ended up weighing nearly a stone more than their starting weight five years after the diet. There is evidence to suggest that the body adjusts to going on a diet by changing its metabolic rate. This makes people more prone to putting on weight once their diet ends.

According to Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist at UCLA who also worked on the analysis, “One of the best predictors of weight gain over the four years was having lost weight on a diet at some point during the years before the study started.”

In effect, dieting is contributing to the proliferation of obesity, putting people at risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

British Dietetic Association (BDA) spokeswoman Judy More, is not surprised at the results.

“When people are on a diet, people feel as if they are denying themselves things, so when they come off it, they think, ‘Oh, thank God, I can go back to eating.'”

People who want to lose weight should look at a long term change of lifestyle, and not just a quick fix to be achieved in a matter of months.

“They have to look at it not as a diet where they are denying themselves, because eventually people get sick of that and go back to their previous lifestyle.What they’ve got to think about moving towards is a new lifestyle, but doing it through small, sustainable changes” adds More.

Amanda Wynne, also a dietician with the BDA agrees, and also calls for small changes to be made.

“A little bit less fat, slightly smaller portion sizes, a few more fruit and vegetables and more exercise. Just building things in to your life which you can actually sustain.”