So I watch Dr. Phil. I started back a couple of years ago because he had Duff McKagen on, (I will literally watch anything Guns N' Roses related, clearly) and I just never really quit watching. Not too long after that I believe was the episode where he had Cynthia Pasquella on talking about the PINK program, I ordered it, and it kind of snowballed into a journey to "find myself" as much as I hate that term. Generally the Dr. Phil episodes are just kind of whatever, even though I'm always rolling my eyes at some of his obvious product placement and book shilling. Tuesday's episode of Dr. Phil put me over the edge though to the point that I just don't think I can watch him anymore. He has officially entered Dr. Oz bullshit territory. The episode was about weight loss, and he is promoting his new weight loss book, "The 20/20 Diet". He of course doesn't give specifics about what the diet is, other than there are 3 "phases" (just like PINK by the way), there is a certain list of foods you can eat (just like PINK), and you are supposed to combine food in a certain way (just like PINK) to "fuel your body".
I. Just. Can't.
So when he had Cynthia on, PINK was supposed to be the most amazing, revolutionary thing in the world, the end to all diets, etc. You know clearly, since he's only done about 10 of these "revolutionary" diet episodes since. Obviously the PINK schpeal worked on my rotten little heart enough to get me to get up and order the PINK Method, and as a result started losing weight. But then the thing that happens with all diets happened. I got bored, I got tired of being restricted, and the perimeters of the diet were too strict to fit into my lifestyle. (Cynthia literally talks about bringing a blender with you when you travel so you can make smoothies. I mean....) I fell off the wagon, gained a lot of the weight back and went into a tailspin that has taken me several months to climb out of. And you know what made me climb out of it? I STOPPED DIETING. I stopped listening to a bunch of snake oil salesmen promoting the next best thing and just started using some common freaking sense. I especially was angry about today's episode because I actually know a person who was on the PINK episode. I am not going to get too deep into the story since it's not mine to tell, but let me put it this way, Dr. Phil didn't "haunt this person" the way he says he does with guests. In fact, they were never followed up on again. This person is now on to some other diet plan. As all of the guests looked to Dr. Phil with hope in their faces today, and as I could hear the "cha-ching" noise of people buying this book, I thought of my friend and it made me mad.
I am just really sick of people in the position of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, etc taking advantage of people. People who are overweight are desperate for change and help. Hell, so was I. It's just crappy to do this for money, and honestly, we know that's what it's for. Make no mistake, these people do this shit for money, and while you are struggling with the same issues, they are counting their dollars. I don't mean to launch into a Paul Stanley "People let me tell you something" speech, but seriously people, let me tell you something. The way to successfully lose weight isn't difficult, and it isn't expensive. In fact, I am going to throw some mad knowledge on you for free. Send the link to this post to as many people as you like, because I am happy and finally at peace with the way I'm doing things, and if I can impart that peace on even one other person then I will be THRILLED. Ready? Here it is.
Stop using the word "diet". Seriously, never speak the word again.
This is what really set me off on today's episode to begin with, the fact that Dr. Phil used the word diet. Diets do not work people, repeat with me, do. not. work. You have GOT to sit down and have a realistic conversation with yourself about who you are and what you are content with doing for the rest of your life. Diets are temporary, and that is not what you need if you want to change your life. You have to do it every day. If you're a burger and beer loving hussy like me, going on some phased vegan lifestyle isn't going to work for you. And it's okay if that type of thing doesn't work for you, you have to do what is best for YOU. And what's best for you isn't best for someone else. Think ahead to being old, do you want to do some fad nonsense until you are 80? Of course not, so outline something that you can be happy living with for forever.
Stop listening to quacks and start listening to science.
The people who create or promote these fad diets or the next best thing are there for one thing only. They want to make money. Stop listening to them. Stop giving them your money. Talk to your doctor, consult with a nutritionist, read medical journals, but don't listen to fools. Beware of anyone who tells you that you have to spend money for some special program, supplement or diet. Losing weight shouldn't cost you any more than your normal grocery bill, clothes budget, etc. Stop listening to people trying to sell you a cleanse or a detox, because that is what your freaking kidneys and liver do without help for FREE. It makes me mad when I see people post things along the lines of "this cucumber water recipe will make you have a flat belly". Um no, losing weight and working on your abs will help you have a flat belly. You see what I'm talking about with the misinformation out there?
To lose weight, you need to eat at a calorie deficit. Period.
I know everyone thinks it's more complicated than this, but it's really not. We've been brainwashed to believe that weight loss requires some crazy "plan" or system, but all it really requires is a calorie deficit. How you get that deficit is up to you, but on a basic level you need to determine the calories you need per day in order to lose, exercise to burn calories, and net at a deficit. For instance if your allotted calorie macro is 1400 calories per day and you eat that 1400, then you burn 400 calories exercising, you are netting 1000 calories. Determining the number of calories you can eat per day and still lose weight while being satisfied can be tricky and may take some trial and error. For me personally, 1200 calories is way too restrictive, and 1600 tends to get me in trouble, so my daily goal is 1400. (That took me about 2 years to learn so) I eat back some of my exercise calories so that I net closer to 1200 calories a day, but try not to eat back all of them. If I were in maintenance then yes, I'd eat back what I'd burned. It's as easy as that folks. I know, I felt foolish when I finally figured it out too. I've spent so much money on stupid stuff over the years, when really all I needed to do was some freaking math.
Eat the things you like eating.
I have lost almost 12 pounds since mid-October. I eat pizza, desserts, burgers, butter, and I drink wine and beer. I don't do these things every day, but I eat them on a pretty regular basis. It all comes down to knowing my macros (calories/fat/fiber etc) I am limited to per day, knowing a proper portion size and figuring out how to fit in the things I love. And what do you know, I don't feel starved, guilty or resentful because NOTHING is off limits. If there is some crazy calorically dense thing I want, I adjust my other meals or I do extra exercise to fit it in. That's all there is to it. Why eat things you hate or that bore you? Why make food a point of misery? Why stress about social situations? Why do any of that when you can just eat things you like and not feel guilty about it? I do fit in more healthy food because it makes me feel better and because I get to eat more of it, and I think that's the natural progression of living a "nothing's off limits" lifestyle. Now that's not to say that you won't have trigger foods that you may have to part ways with to prevent binge eating. I have learned the hard lesson that I cannot keep a jar of Nutella in the house. I just can't do it. Same with cold cereal. It sucks, but there is so much food in the world to eat that I can live without those things. Stop thinking in terms of fad (gluten free, no carbs, low fat) or what you are "supposed" to eat (salad, rice cakes) and think of food in these terms: What do I like? What foods satisfy me and will make me happy eating on a daily basis? What foods are going to help me feel good? Can I take smaller portions of really rich/fatty things I love so that I can have those things, plus, incorporate more traditionally healthy foods as a balance? (example, small piece of fav pizza plus a large salad with light dressing)
Track your food every day.
Tracking food is the key to success, and the great thing is that there are so many free programs/apps out there to help you do it. I personally love My Fitness Pal, (the barcode scanner is my life) but there are other programs like Spark People and Lose It that are good too. I have not been successful at losing weight until I committed to track my food on MFP every single day, no matter what (over indulging, binge, etc). I have consistently tracked for 52 days now and have been losing weight consistently. There have been so many times I've made a healthier choice because seeing the calories of the thing I THOUGHT I wanted made my eyes bug out of my head. I've also been pleasantly surprised at things that I thought had a crazy amount of calories but were more reasonable. And besides calories, I like monitoring vitamins, calcium and fiber levels in my daily consumption. These things are just as important as knowing calorie and fat grams. Whenever I have stopped tracking, the weight comes back on, so keeping that accountability is important! Making sure that you are honest when you track is important. If you have a day that's a little wild, or you have a binge, track it, acknowledge it and move on.
Be active doing something you like doing.
Moving your body is just as important as what you put in your mouth. Not only will it help with weight loss, but you will just feel better. I have reached a point where I experience depression and physical pain when I don't exercise. I am addicted to it. It is super important that you figure out what type of activity speaks to you, and consistently do that activity. Consistency is what is going to get you places, and liking what you do will make you consistent. There will always be some workout that everyone says is THE thing to do, but if you don't like it, then don't bother. Don't like gyms? Don't join one, find stuff to do outside or at home. Unless you have specific goals (running a marathon, doing a body building contest), there is no specific workout you have to do. I enjoy walking and doing my silly Richard Simmons tapes. If people frown upon it or don't think it's "hardcore" enough, oh well. It's what I like to do. Some people like the Insanity/P90x stuff, but it makes me want to cringe. Whatever you like, makes you feel good and feel happy is what you should do. There are tons of free exercise videos on Youtube (and sometimes bootlegs of popular exercise programs), so it's a great way to try different styles of exercise without sinking a bunch of money into it.
Learn when to listen to other people, and when to say "Thanks, but I'm gonna do me".
When the subject of weight loss and fitness comes up, everyone seems to have an opinion of the way you need to do things. It is your job to filter what is useful and what you can smile and nod politely to, then go about your way. There is a time to listen to advice and a time not to. When I started running more and subsequently started training for a marathon, I talked to people who'd run marathons before. I asked questions. I listened. I took their advice. If you know someone who has lost a ton of weight and kept it off for a long period of time, ask them questions about their experience and what they did to achieve their goals. That's a worthwhile person to listen to. Generally if you have a specific goal for fitness, then the people you need to listen to are people who are successful in that field. But if your friend is telling you that you MUST go on this that and the other diet, another friend is telling you that unless you are doing such and such workout that you'll never succeed or Aunt Sally is telling you that she heard from The Doctors that gluten will kill you, filter, filter, filter. It comes from a place of trying to help, but all the same, it's not helpful.
Surround yourself with people who support you.
It goes without saying, but you need people around you who are Team You. I am so very lucky, I am blessed with family and a husband who are incredibly supportive of me. They never said mean things about my weight when I got heavy, and they have been supportive of my roller coaster efforts to lose the weight. I could not have run my marathon without the unfailing support of my husband, and I am serious, I couldn't have. I am lucky to have friends who are encouraging and awesome as well. I know many people struggle with friends or family being unsupportive or saying nasty things to them, and I am so sorry to anyone going through that. My advice would be to have a conversation with the person who is making you feel bad. Ask them if they realize they are hurting your feelings, and if there is a deep seated reason for it. (Example: If it's a spouse, maybe they are secretly afraid you will leave them if you lose weight). Tell the person what you need from them. If the person continues to be an ass after that conversation, then you may need to evaluate whether you need them in your life. I know that's tough, but life is short and you only get one chance to live it. Don't spend it letting someone hurt you and keep you from reaching your goals. If you cannot get support close to you, there are so many support groups online. My Fitness Pal has a ton of forums where you can connect with people. Depending on what exercise you like, there are all sorts of groups you can join (Meetup.com would be a good place to start). If you can't get the support you need around you, turn to those resources.
You are responsible for you.
I don't mean to sound preachy or like a motivational speaker, but you have the power to change. It may take some trial and error (lord knows it has for me), it can be hard work at times, but you can uncomplicate things and change your life. No one can take your power or determination from you unless you let them. If you want to lose weight or do anything in life, you have to be determined and consistent. Only you can create that determination, that can't come from a meme, a spouse or your friends. You can't worry about what other people think or say, if you do, you will be stuck in the cycle for the rest of your life. Do what makes you truly happy, because that's always the right thing to do and what will make you successful in weight loss and life.
There are so many tips I could give, but I'll stop there. because this post is already so long. I hope I helped someone out there, and I hope more people start realizing that they can change their lives in a sane way. As for Dr. Phil, he's off my DVR for good.
In the comically worst segway ever, I thought I'd post my third song for our Christmas musical advent series just to end this long ass blog post on a good note. Today I'm going with the Winger version of "Happy Christmas (War is Over)". You know, I love John Lennon, but Yoko's horrid singing on the original track just ruins it for me. I really like this version, Kip Winger does a great job plus, not having the Yoko distraction really lets the beautiful lyrics stand out.