Don’t you hate it when you swear off your favorite banana nut muffins (or fill-in-the-blank treat) for an entire week only to find you haven’t lost an ounce when you next step on the scale? It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that you might as well eat all of the muffins (or whatever you gave up) that you want since omitting them from your diet didn’t lead to weight loss, but that isn’t what your little experiment proved.
Losing weight is hard, but not complicated. As we all know, the hard part is giving up (or cutting back on) foods and drinks that we enjoy eating whenever we want. It’s difficult because we have to disrupt well-worn habits and deliberately do something else instead. But it’s not complicated once we understand why we are changing our habits. In order to lose weight we need to create an energy deficit, and the best way to do that is to increase our energy output (through increased activity) at the same time that we decrease our energy (calorie) intake.
That’s why skipping the muffins wasn’t enough. Maybe you ate more of something else or had less physical activity that week so didn’t create an energy deficit. It’s also why just swapping out sugar for a low-calorie sweetener may not always lead to weight loss. What matters is the total energy taken in versus total energy used up.
Research shows that working on both sides of the energy deficit equation is a more effective way to losing weight than just cutting calories or just increasing physical activity. It’s also a great way to reinforce the new healthy eating behaviors and exercise routines that will help us maintain our weight loss once we reach our goal.
Moving More throughout the Day
If you need to up your activity level to create your energy deficit you’ll be happy to know a gym isn’t the only place where we can burn calories. We can incorporate more activity into our daily routines by doing things like building a short walk into every coffee and meal break we take throughout our workday and parking on the outer rim of the lot and walking to the entrance instead of parking close to it. We can also get into the habit of standing instead of sitting whenever we’re talking on the phone and walking into the bank instead of using the drive up window. Every time we move we are helping to create that energy deficit!
Staying Active When the Days are Shorter and the Temperature Drops
If you find it more challenging to stay active in the colder, shorter days of winter, just think like a kid! I remember loving it when it snowed so we could build snow forts, have snowball fights, go sledding down the steepest driveways in the neighborhood and ice skate on the frozen ponds near my home. There’s no reason why we can’t still do those things as adults.
If snow isn’t part of your winter, but it is too cold and dark to exercise outdoors, you can still act like a kid and sign up for some fun stuff at the recreation center, like fencing, archery or judo. Maybe it’s time to take that introductory 6 week class at the gym in kickboxing, rock climbing or dance? And don’t forget the free workouts you can get at home using DVDs or YouTube videos or by doing a few laps inside the mall. Just make sure you crank up your speed as you walk past the food court!
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.
For more information about the role of low-calorie sweeteners in weight loss, read “Low Calorie Sweeteners and Weight Loss: There Are No Magic Bullets.”
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.
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