We have been lied to.
There seems to be a new diet out every day claiming to be the "miracle" that will help you lose weight.
They promise if you eliminate this one thing or add that one thing or do this one exercise, you will lose weight and maybe have rock hard abs.
If losing weight and getting abs are that simple, how come none of it works? I mean if this is really the case shouldn’t I be able to make a few tweaks and add an exercise and have those air-brushed abs? Hey, it’s about to be summer, after all.
Oh, that’s not what how it works? Dang it! If only…
Well, now what? What's the TRUTH?
Ok, here’s the deal, what you eat matters. There, I said it. Ugh! Why must this be so?!?!
I know, I know. I wish somehow magically I could make this reality disappear, but it is FACT. What we put into our bodies makes the majority of the difference in how we look, feel and function. NUTRITION MATTERS.
We have been fed lots of misleading information over the years about how to lose weight and be healthy. Eat less and exercise more, right? WRONG!
Yes, ultimately on some level calories matter, but to only focus on the number of calories you eat is doing your body and your brain a disservice. I want to bring to your attention a handful of other, more relevant, things to pay attention to and the related myths we hear.
Here are three things you might hear when trying to be healthier, have more energy and even lose weight.
MYTH 1. FOOD LABELS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON A PACKAGE.
Our food system is filled with toxic chemicals and additives beyond what we can truly eliminate. This can be overwhelming and cause you to give up in frustration. I know because it’s happened to me. When I learned about pesticides and toxic chemicals and poisons in our food supply, I panicked. But learn from my mistakes, and take a deep breath. While you can try your best, it is unrealistic in our busy lives to eliminate every “bad” thing we might ingest. Enter the spectrum.
Every improved choice you make is a healthier choice you are making for your body and your brain. Is your choice better than it was last time? Is what you are choosing an improvement over your usual fare?
If you’re like most, your answer is probably maybe, but how do I know?
When you pick up a package, the most important thing to look at is…THE INGREDIENT LIST!
How many of you would have guessed that? We have been hit over the head with the importance of the nutrition label, and that is where most people look first. While that is important information, I will contend that the ingredients matter more.
In future posts, we will go deeper into why this matters, but for now learn to read your ingredients. The first five ingredients on a package are listed IN ORDER by weight in the food. This means that these are the most important things to pay attention to as they take up the majority of the product.
PRO TIP: If you cannot pronounce the first five ingredients, it’s probably a good idea to drop the food and run. Start paying attention to the added colors and flavors that you’d be better off without. Of course, natural foods with no label are the best, but let’s be real y’all, I have kids! ☺
Here’s a quick example. Mustard. The mustard on the left is the grocery store brand (cheapest, too, I might add). The name brands both have “natural flavors” which are anything but natural—I will talk about this in a future post, but natural means absolutely NOTHING on a food label, just FYI. The grocery store mustard has all ingredients I know, can pronounce and are actual foods.
So there you have it, the winner is the cheapest mustard from the grocery store brand.
Baby steps matter and as we learn how to evaluate what we are putting into our bodies, we will be honoring God and taking care of the gift He created.
MYTH 2: EATING FAT MAKES YOU FAT.
I hope you were sitting down for that one. Most people still have a hard time wrapping their head around this one. Fat is your friend.
It gives you energy, keeps you full, boosts your brain and makes your body a well-oiled machine. What?!?! I know, right. For much of the last 30 years, we have been fed misleading information to convince us that we need to steer away from fat. This is absolutely just wrong and as a low-fat society, we have grown not only sicker but much fatter as well.
Now, not all fats are created equal and some are definitely better than others. Some of your best choices are coconut, avocado, WILD caught fatty fish like salmon, eggs and tree nuts. On the opposite end of the fat spectrum are two kinds of fats that you want to steer away from. Work to completely eliminate trans fatty acids from your diet and work to minimize polyunsaturated oils (like canola, cottonseed, vegetable, and more).
Trans fatty acids are toxic in your body and serve zero positive purpose. They are manufactured fats created to save food companies money. If your label says “partially hydrogenated” anything, think twice. Polyunsaturated oils can also create oxygen free radicals (just think yucky things you don’t want) and cause increased inflammation and disease.
Salad dressings are one of the big culprits here. If you can find a dressing with olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil, that’s the one to go for. Or, make your own! Comment below with your favorite dressings and I’ll be sure to post some quick and easy recipes for those soon.
Pro Tip: If you are trying to lose weight, fat is your friend. If you want more energy, fat is your friend. If you can’t seem to feel full, fat is your friend. If you are forgetful or have brain fog, fat is your friend. Now go enjoy a some baked chicken thighs along with that chicken breast you’ve been stomaching for decades!
MYTH 3: EXERCISE IS IMPORTANT FOR WEIGHT LOSS.
Yes, exercise is important, but for general health and well-being. It is a terrible form of weight loss. Really.
Since Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons made leotards and tight shorts cool, people have been getting fatter. Sure, we have been exercising more, but can you tell when you look at society as a whole? So what gives, why are we fatter if we are exercising more?
For starters, we are hungrier! All this low-fat food and calorie burning exercise has increased our appetites, not to mention the chemicals in our foods that make us hungrier. Nutrition will always be the key to weight loss. That’s where the saying “abs are made in the kitchen” comes from. And I bet if you’re honest with yourself, you will find that at times you’ve eaten healthier your body responds.
But exercise. Exercise is great for your heart. Exercise reduces your risk of diabetes and complications from diabetes. Exercise makes you stronger. Exercise can be healing for depression. Exercise makes you fitter. Exercise is good. Hear me. Exercise is fantastic for your well-being; it’s just a terrible strategy for long-term weight loss.
Plus, some people hate to exercise and hate the gym and all that comes with it. (You guys are probably excited about this myth!) Here’s what you need to know: Activity is activity. So if you hate traditional exercise, but want the health benefits, just stay active. Move when you can and you’ll actually gain more energy, sleep better, think better and improve your health.
So how is this possible? I thought if you move more and eat less you will lose weight? While technically true, it’s just not that simple. A calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie, and we do not live in a science lab. There are a number of factors that play into this seemingly simple equation of calories in calories out. Things like sugar, fiber, protein, fat, food timing, food temperature, and much more.
So for now, just know that activity is super important, but not when it comes to weight loss.
Pro Tip: Get fit, be active, move a lot. Your body and your brain will thank you.
What Does Help Weight Loss?
In the end, NUTRITION MATTERS.
It just does. So until next time, check your ingredients, eat some avocados and eggs and move a little more. Honoring God with your body can be done with small changes. Our progress matters and perfection is not our goal. Jesus was the only perfect human. This is not an excuse, but an opportunity to show ourselves grace and we move in a positive direction. Healthy living is a relative thing and your choices matter for you, not your sister or friend or child. Only you.
Don't let perfection be the enemy of good.