The Tangled Web Of Weight Gain

It seems like there is a new diet fad, fitness guru with a crack pot scheme, or nonsense nutrition plan for weight loss that comes out every week. The majority of people because they are restrictive, often scientifically unfounded, and/or don’t address individual needs.

This week I wanted to bring some perspective to the nationwide weight gain crisis. With nearly 1/3 of Americans being classified as obese, and less than 3% able to maintain essential healthy habits, there are fingers of blame being pointed in many directions. So what’s really to blame? HA!!! Trick question! There’s a web of causation with dozens of tangled and intertwined reasons for weight gain. The picture below shows just what I’m talking about. Because I don’t want to write a book today, I’m not going to break down each of the 15 categories and their factors. Instead, I’m going to elucidate a few of them that I believe are under appreciated.
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Increased Intake
I’ll start with the category that’s the most obvious, and yet least properly addressed. It seems like there is a new diet fad, fitness guru with a crack pot scheme, or nonsense nutrition plan for weight loss that comes out every week. As a side note, one of my personal heroes of the industry, Alan Aragon, wrote a magnificent piece on this issue last week. Getting back on point, these plans simply don’t work for the majority of people because they are restrictive, often scientifically unfounded, and/or don’t address individual needs. There are just too many things to take into account for a “one size fits all” diet plan to address. For instance, depending on how well you picked your parents (your genetics), the amount of a chemical in your mouth called amylase will play a huge roll in your body’s ability to process carbohydrates! We also need to consider things like age, gender, mental/physical diseases, social norms/demands, economic status, and even advertising. Here is a list of other factors that contribute to overeating, and what you can do about them.
1. You’re not eating often enough – Don’t let your tummy be empty for too long. Eat something every 3 or 4 hours.
2. You’re not getting the right balance of nutrients – Aim to eat more fiber, protein, and a little healthy fat to stay satisfied.
3. You’re eating too many simple carbs and sugars – Knock it off with the white bread, pasta, bagels, and pastries!!!
4. You’re dehydrated and confusing thirst for hunger – Drink more water to eat less.
5. You’re stressed – Stress = Cortisol = hunger. Try yoga/meditation or some of these practices
6. You’re not paying attention to what you’re eating – When shoveling it in, you essentially forget you already ate. So, eat mindfully.
7. You’re not getting enough sleep – Sleep = hormonal control = appetite control. 
8. You have an underlying medical condition – Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, depression, and anxiety (along with some medications) can mess with appetite. 
Decreased Expenditure
We know that it’s not as simple as calories in calories out, but if you’re not doing anything to bump up the number of calories going out then that’s certainly an issue. The good news is that exercise is not the best way to lose weight. The bad news is that exercise is an absolute MUST DO. And we have all encountered those days where exercise seems like an impossible task. But as another one of my favorite fitness authors James Fell puts it “Don’t view an hour’s worth of exercise as something where you need to find the motivation to make it through that entire hour. In most cases, you only need the motivation for those first five minutes.”
When it comes to weight loss, the most important thing to do is to be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t make  excuses to get out of doing what you need to do to get/be better. Take a step back and be honest with yourself about what you say you’re doing, and what you’re actually doing to achieve greatness. If you’re aimlessly going about your health goals, or need to figure out great goals, here’s what I want you to do NOW before you read on the last section.
1. Turn “outcome goals” into “behavior goals” – Outcome goals are how we want things to be at the end of the process. Behavior goals focus on the things we have control over, and represent your commitment to practice a set of actions or tasks every day as consistently and regularly as possible. Here’s how to break goals into skills; skills into practices.
2. Turn “avoid goals” into “approach goals” – Saying “don’t” or “stop” in the goal setting phase means you’re telling yourself to stop doing something which almost guarantees you’ll keep doing it. Approach goals are about adding and enjoying “good stuff”, and pulling yourself toward something desirable (and quietly pull you away from something you’re trying to avoid).
3.Turn “performance goals” into “mastery goals” – With performance goals means you’re looking for external validation which can be incredibly demotivating if they don’t work out. Mastery goals emphasize the process of getting a little bit better each day, the joy of learning, and feeling good about your own personal progression.
What To Do Next
The crux of all of this is creating positive behavior changes. When it comes to nutrition, try using this check list to make a sweeping change of your home and re check it a month later to make sure you’re adhering to your positive changes. When it comes to exercise, no matter how you feel, get your fanny to the gym and if you’re not full of energy after the first 5 minutes then reconsider your exercise strategy. If in a month from now you’re not making the progress you want you may need to think about 3 keys to mental toughness.
1. “Complete or kill” – If something is important to you, complete it. If not, kill it.
2. If you commit to nothing, you’re distracted by everything – Do you make time for your goals above all else? Do you organize your day around accomplishing them? If you commit to nothing, then you’ll find that it’s easy to be distracted by everything.
3. It doesn’t matter how long your goal will take—just get started – Don’t let the length of your goals prevent you from starting on them.
“Never give up on a dream just because of the length of time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
—H. Jackson Brown
As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this week’s subject. If you have any questions or tips related to the post, or suggestions for future topics, feel free to contact me any time. As always, I’m here to help. So if you need answers to your exercise program, nutrition plan, or wellness issues, please don’t hesitate to ask!



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