Myths About Losing Weight

MYTHS

Small things make a big difference. Walking a mile a day can lead to a loss of more than 50 pounds in five years.

Set a realistic goal to lose a modest amount.

People who are too ambitious will get frustrated and give up.

You have to be mentally ready to diet or you will never succeed.

Slow and steady is the way to lose. If you lose weight too fast you will lose less in the long run.

Ideas not yet proven TRUE OR FALSE

Diet and exercise habits in childhood set the stage for the rest of life.

Add lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet to lose weight or not gain as much.

Yo-yo diets lead to increased death rates.

People who snack gain weight and get fat.

If you add bike paths, jogging trails, sidewalks and parks, people will not be as fat.

FACTS — GOOD EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT

Heredity is important but is not destiny.

Exercise helps with weight maintenance.

Weight loss is greater with programs that provide meals.

Some prescription drugs help with weight loss and maintenance.

Weight-loss surgery in appropriate patients can lead to long-term weight loss, less diabetes and a lower death rate.

Source: Gina Kolata in The New York Times

Comments (10)

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  1. Andrew O says:

    Sure, but this is troublesome as prescription drugs will only help as long as you take them and run the risk of making the patient dependent on these drugs — not to mention possible side effects. It may be a fact, but a bad reality that some people rely on this rather than a healthy diet and exercise plan. It has even been seen in society that morbidly obese people have dramatically reduced weight by dieting and exercising. The key is resorting to a healthy and proven diet that will help increase your metabolism while complementing it with a good exercise routine — this takes consistency and discipline, something many people have trouble with.

  2. Tyrus says:

    “Slow and steady is the way to lose. If you lose weight too fast you will lose less in the long run.”

    - Most people who I’ve spoken too who have reached their fitness goals say you can’t enter into things halfway. Results only appear when people attack their goals with crazy intensity, and completely change their lifestyle. They always say they’ve tried to enter into things half-way, only to fail in reaching their goals.

  3. Evan Carr says:

    As a personal trainer, I am pleased to see this post. Weight loss can be both complicated and very simple. Simply, weight gain is due to an excess consumption of calories in a day. There are 3500 calories in a pound. If someone eats 500 calories more than their basal metabolic rate every day, they will gain a pound a week. If they eat 500 calories less they will lose a pound a week. Exercise, or the lack-there-of, changes that balance left over at the end of the day.

    Food quality is important but not as important as food quantity. Fruits are loaded with simple sugars which are not actually that great. Vegetables are relatively calorie-empty foods which are good for their vitamins and minerals. Avoiding simple carbs, like white bread, and calorie-rich deserts and sweets is an easy way to watch weight.

    Diets rarely achieve long-term results if they are not coupled with exercise. Exercise sometimes achieves results if the diet isn’t tuned in. I always laugh when someone thinks that just because they spend an hour in the gym every day, they have the license to eat whatever they want.

    Maintaining a healthy weight for those who are prone to weight gain or simply eat too much is the end result of a lifestyle choice.

    I absolutely disagree with the statement that small things make a difference is a myth. A bunch of small things can make a difference. If someone parks in the back of the parking lot, switches from whole milk to 1 percent, quits drinking soda, goes for a mile walk every day, makes a point to stand instead of sit more often at work and cuts their fast food down to once a week, all of these small things can make a significant difference over time.

    In my opinion, medication and weight-loss surgery should be the last resort for people who have serious conditions that cause them to be overweight. Poor eating choices should not be the reason someone gets liposuction. It is totally irresponsible to eat terribly for 20 years then suck 300 pounds out and think that is okay.

    The American dieet has gotten worse and worse as food has become more and more processed. Until we make different eating and lifestyle choices, America will continue to deal with the reprecussions of obesity.

  4. Bustser says:

    MYTHS

    Small things make a big difference. Walking a mile a day can lead to a loss of more than 50 pounds in five years.

    Set a realistic goal to lose a modest amount.

    People who are too ambitious will get frustrated and give up.

    You have to be mentally ready to diet or you will never succeed.

    Slow and steady is the way to lose. If you lose weight too fast you will lose less in the long run.

    What the above all have in common is lifestyle. You cannot expect to lose weight and keep it off unless you’re willing to change your lifestyle habits that resulted in becoming over-weight. There’s nothing wrong with realizing you’ve add a couple pounds during Christmas and need to exert extra effort to get it off. But excessive yo-yo dieting suggests you’re doing something wrong.

    I’ve lost weight and am nearly 30 pounds lighter than my weight was for a decade. I would periodically diet and keep a few pounds off for a year or two. But, my weight fell once I changed my lifestyle. It’s relatively simple:

    I work out three or four times a week, I rarely drink alcohol, I drink mostly water with a little fruit juice. I eat yogurt. I maintain a high protein diet. I avoid sweets; I limit my carbs and limit my intake of snack foods that are heavy in carbs. I don’t pig out, I believe most foods are fine in moderation. In fact, lately I’ve had to try to gain weight because it was falling too low.

  5. H. James Prince says:

    “If you add bike paths, jogging trails, sidewalks and parks, people will not be as fat.”

    As the old saying goes: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

  6. Devon Herrick says:

    Myth: If you add bike paths, jogging trails, sidewalks and parks, people will not be as fat.

    “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

    I’ve suspected that company wellness programs sometimes suffer the same problem. Giving free gym memberships to employees probably benefits those who were already going to buy gym memberships. Those who hate gyms probably aren’t going to go regardless. The question is: how many employees were “on the fence” so to speaks and responded to incentives? In other words, how much effect did a free gym membership have at the margin> It will vary from one company to the next.

    Having new jogging paths probably helps. But it probably induces few unhealthy people to suddenly begin jogging.

  7. Jordan says:

    Andrew, I think you are understating the side effects. Endogenous weight gain from things like depression can be handled by medication. So doctors would prescribe say.. Zoloft. One of the wonderful side effects of Zoloft and some of the more contemporary medications is suicide idealization.

  8. Gabriel Odom says:

    ” The question is: how many employees were “on the fence” so to speaks and responded to incentives? In other words, how much effect did a free gym membership have at the margin> It will vary from one company to the next.”

    Devon, that’s a very good question – and one that I’ve often wondered myself. One of the companies that I worked for in the past dodged the problem entirely by giving bonuses to anyone who kept their medical expenses under a certain threshold. It worked well. I haven’t been overly fond of working out, but I stayed in much better shape while I was employed there.

  9. Sadat says:

    Our genetic code is important but is not destiny. I am interested to know up to what point/degree is our genetic code important, because, if I remember correctly from my biology class, genetics changes (evolution) takes time. Obesity is a recent phenomena, the time span is too short to be attributed to genetic changes, societal changes have to be a large player in this recent rise in obese individuals.

  10. Toni says:

    Hmm. Once I was tired of being fat after a decade of an office job, I made a series of small changes over a gradual period of time and lost 30 pounds going from 160 to 130 in about 7 months. I never went nuts in a gym. I didn’t eat weird little frozen meals delivered by USPS. I didn’t take any drugs. I didn’t go all P90X and drink a gallon of water per day. I’d tried all of that before and I did lose the weight and lost it fast. But I never kept it off. You know why? Because it’s unrealistic to think that for rest of my life I’d be P90x’ing or eating dribbles of food or running 10K’s.

    Naturally thin people know the simple principles of eating more good stuff, less bad stuff. So guess who I watched–the naturally thin friends and family in my life. No more guru’s or experts or those in the ‘industry’ who’d never even had a weight problem. I watched normal folks. I saw that they had more active lives (like played on a recreational sports teams, walked their dogs, played Wii with their kids, etc) but they weren’t workout fanatics. And they ate normal amounts of balanced foods -whenever they were hungry. They didn’t eat 6 little meals per day. They didn’t cut out bread. They just ate like people with common sense.

    Once I started doing the same, the weight came off at about 5 pounds per month and it’s been off for 2 years. Cholesterol dropped 30 points. Blood pressure normal vs slightly elevated before. Lost 4 inches from waist. I don’t even think about food like that anymore–I learned what and how much to eat. I am more active now but I only do things I like, not what I’m “supposed” to do based on some program. I ride my bike. I walk. I jog. I play frisbee. I’d rather chew off my leg than walk on a treadmill and I’ve never been in a gym longer than 30 minutes at a time. I only go when its raining or too hot or cold outside.

    I took my time and integrated a new thing each month like walking for 30 minutes, then walking for 45 min and riding bike for 30 minutes. Gradually increased activity. Small changes… I rallied 5 friends to try this and they each lost from 16-43 pds and it’s been off for over a year.

    Doing it all at once can overwhelm people and after initial motivation, they’ll stop. First plateau, they’ll stop. About the fifth time they have to heat up their “boxed” meal while trying to feed a spouse or children, they’ll stop. Lot of people with their fancy workout clothes, little notebooks and apps and trainers are all hyped up in the gym for like 1 month. Then life gets in the way.

    The Myth as far as I can tell is that we are supposed to Overhaul our whole lives to get fit. I think instead we need to make fitness naturally fit into the lives we already live, little by little. My friends and I are living proof.