Interview on Weight Loss

Scale and Healthy Food_Weight LossInterview on Weight Loss with Best Self Magazine

How does diet have an effect on weight loss?

Diet affects weight loss as most plans offer a lower calorie, lower carbohydrate regimen. It is basic calories in and calories out. We have to use what we take in, and if we don’t then we store the calories as fat.

For example: When we get up in the morning, we reach for a quick breakfast, bagels, donuts, toast, cereal bar (something portable). These carbs cause a spike in blood glucose. In response, our pancreas releases insulin; the insulin will put the glucose in fat cells for storage. The blood sugar or glucose then drops, and we hunger for a high-carb fix. This cycle encourages overeating, weight gain, and eventually health issues. It is important to understand how our body processes what we eat so that we can make healthier choices that are sustainable.

What is the best way to begin a diet?

Start with a goal; visualize the outcome and think about changes that you can make to be healthier and to make healthier choices. Your goal should be long-term, optimal health – a focus on eating habits that transcend conventional dieting into a lifelong commitment of embracing better health. Improving your energy level, your range of motion, your image, your self-esteem, and your sleep should be benefits to look forward to. In addition, the pantry should be purged of junk food and replaced with lower carbohydrate options. I also encourage people to gain support from others living in the household, and most of all, to take some pictures of themselves today.

What are some of the concerns people have when starting a diet?

Of course, anxiety plays a part whenever we experience change in our lives. By electing a diet program or weight management program, you are stepping out of your comfort zone voluntarily and – if it is your first commitment to improve your health – you are facing the unknown. People are concerned they will have to pass up their favorite foods, their lifelong habits, and possibly their social life for an unspecified period of time. They are concerned that there is no guarantee they will lose the weight after they invest their money and time. If they have dieted in the past and the weight returned, they are concerned they will end up back here again.

Selecting a multiple phase program that provides transition and maintenance plans is essential and will ease some of the anxiety about what to do after the weight-loss phase to keep the weight off. I coach my clients to slowly incorporate healthy choices into their diets for a period of time relative to the amount of weight lost. I then continue to work with them through transition and into maintenance to ensure their success and commitment to optimal health.

What are some mistakes people often make when starting a diet?

They try to fix a problem and think of the weight loss as an end itself. Once they manage to survive the deprivation and lose the weight with whatever diet plan they have chosen, they almost immediately return to their previous eating habits. Then the weight returns and they look for the next fix for their problem. Other mistakes are skipping meals (especially breakfast), not drinking enough water, and giving into cravings.

With so many diets on the market, how do you choose which one is right for you?

Again, don’t think of the goal to get healthy as a solution to a problem. The best plan is one that offers multiple phases, including a transition and long-term maintenance. The weight-loss phase can be achieved through many options, but can you sustain that while incorporating your healthy food choices, and then maintain it throughout your life?

Another key component of a good weight management program is one that promotes smaller portioned meals throughout the day, essentially six. This avoids the rise in blood sugar and keeps the hunger hormone, insulin, from spiking. You are eating every two to three hours, which has many benefits and keeps you from getting hungry throughout the day. A good program combines lean proteins and carbohydrates for weight loss without sacrificing muscle mass or your overall health. The meal replacements I use are fortified with vitamins and minerals so that essential nutrients are not lost.

The most important component of a good weight management plan is one that offers education and support. I tell people to look for a program with a health coach, someone who can guide you through losing, transitioning, and maintaining the desired weight. The latest fad diets come and go, but they are not sustainable, and the weight will come back as you soon as you return to your original eating pattern.

Once you reach your weight-loss goal, how do you maintain your diet?

Just as I described above: A good weight-loss plan will have a transition phase that correlates to the weight-loss period. For example, the plan I work with promotes an 8, 12, or 16-week transition plan complete with daily menus that gradually weans the client off of the meal replacements and onto their healthy food substitutions. The maintenance plan should be the continuation of healthy eating choices and balancing calorie intake and exercise.

What advice can you offer to individuals who typically get discouraged and give up? What are some things they can do that will help them stay on the course?

Once the fat-burning stage begins, usually in three to five days, the weight will start to drop, changes will occur, and the client will be motivated to continue. At least, that is the plan, but not always reality. The obstacles are sometimes life events and daily challenges, like stress at work, problems in the marriage, trials in relationships, parenting issues, etc. Some people sooth and medicate themselves with food, usually high-carb, high-sugar foods.

The health coach’s role is to keep the client from getting discouraged and giving up. They are there to remind and refocus and re-energize their desire to be healthy. Things they can do to stay the course is keep the goal in mind, keep visualizing the outcome, realizing the benefits of the work that has already been done. The key is not to react to these challenges by getting off of the plan. The brief satisfaction in eating a piece a cake will give way to guilt and then concern that the diet is ruined, and everything spirals downward. As health coaches, we help the client identify the triggers and to react to them without sabotaging their weight-loss plan.

With the low-glycemic program that I use, the client will start to see benefits of not only weight loss but also better sleep, less inflammation, possibly less pain, lower blood glucose, and lower blood pressure. There is more to gain than lose here, if you know what I mean.

Can you lose weight through diet alone and no exercise?

Yes, you can lose weight without exercise. I encourage people who are avid exercisers to continue their programs while losing weight. However, if an individual has not been exercising, they should jump start the weight loss and get into the fat-burning state for a week or two before starting to exercise. Exercise can certainly make a difference in how much or how fast you lose weight, and it will improve your health.

Thirty minutes a day of activity is one component of achieving optimal health. I encourage everyone regardless of his or her place on the exercise continuum to increase his or her activity level. Move as much as you can; sit as little as possible.

What advice can you give to individuals who have tried nearly everything but can’t seem to lose stubborn pounds?

I tell them not to give up and to review their current plan. For these individuals, there can be several diet tweaks that will work: replacing the higher carbohydrate greens with lower carb choices, for example. Reviewing the protein and meat choices as the leaner ones might make the difference.

The time of day that calories are consumed is also important in removing excess weight.  Experts agree that 70% of your calories for the day should be consumed by the mid-afternoon. If you are eating the majority of your calories after this time, it could be the reason you are not losing as fast as you could or that you have stalled on your current plan.

Hitting a stall in the diet is where an increase in exercise can make a difference also; adding 10-15 minutes more several times a week could cut through that plateau. Increasing the activity level of everyday life will also make a difference. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator; walk around the house several times; stand while talking on the phone; park away from the supermarket.

If they are meeting these criteria with no success, then they should visit their doctor to see if there is an underlying medical condition that is preventing their weight loss. Before beginning any weight-loss program, a physician visit is advised anyway.

Is it true that losing weight becomes more difficult as a person ages? Explain.

Yes. Your metabolism slows by 5% each decade. Compared to your 20s, in your 30s you will burn 100 fewer calories a day with no change in activity; in your 40s, you are burning 200 fewer calories per day, and so on. If you do nothing, you may gain 8 to 12 pounds in a year. We also lose muscle mass as we age, and muscle helps in the fat-burning process.

Do men and women lose weight differently? If so, explain.

Yes, in reality men do lose weight faster than women do. For most men, health rather than vanity is the motivation to diet, and it is not connected to emotion. There are physiological differences as well. Women have higher body fat content than men and less lean muscle mass, which burns more calories. Women also have more fat cells for childbearing, and those extra fat cells store extra calories. If we go back to early man, he was the hunter and gatherer who needed strong muscles to run and seek out food supplies, while the women stayed back and tended to the children.

Interview with Gale Hadaway
Certified Health and Wellness Coach
President, Her Health Matters, LLC