How To Lose Your Holiday Weight (And Keep It Off!)
By Dr. Bo Rosenblat
Chief Physician, Dr. Bo’s Diet
After the fun of the holidays has ended and it’s time to get back to real life, you may notice you have gained a few unwanted gifts. Those extra pounds are often the result of relaxed holiday eating and lack of exercise during the holidays. If you woke up Monday morning in a frantic panic to drop it fast, you are certainly not alone. And while your conscious efforts to shed the extra weight are noble, taking extreme weight-loss measures almost always backfires. Starvation and “crash diets” are often the routes people take. Any time you hear the word “crash,” it’s generally associated with something negative. You wouldn’t try to crash your car or your computer, right? Think of a crash diet as a system crash in your metabolism; the impact can be traumatic and the recovery can be tough, if not impossible.
Ask yourself one question: have I ever had success with a fad diet in the long-term? For the average person, the answer is overwhelmingly no. While you may have lost weight quickly, you probably gained it back (and maybe even more). So why do we constantly repeat the same behaviors, knowing they will bear the same ultimate result? Our brains are hard-wired to want a quick fix and instant results. What sugar does for our brain–the instant rush and the steep crash–is ultimately what dieting does to our psyche. We feel the need to see that instant loss despite that rapid unwanted gain, and then we repeat the cycle. So how can we get out of the weight-loss/weight-gain cat-and-mouse game? Rapid weight loss is key for gaining the momentum needed, but how do we maintain it and not run out of steam? The keys to sustainable rapid weight loss are: frequency, intensity, and duration.
Frequency. Having one healthy meal won’t have much impact on a week of poor eating, and the converse is true as well. Detrimental and unhealthy measures will lead to metabolic damage and weight gain in the long term. If you constantly go from one fad diet to the next, or yo-yo up and down in weight, then chances are your metabolic function might be out of whack.
We tend to have our minds made up about what we think is healthy for ourselves. If you decided not to feed an infant breakfast, and put coffee into their bottle instead of milk, we could all agree that would be unhealthy. No one would expect that baby to be happy or healthy. And yet, many of us routinely take similar actions as a quick fix when we get in trouble with our weight.
There has been much debate over whether losing a lot of weight quickly is better or worse than losing more modest amounts over the long-term. The argument that rapid weight loss will just as soon result in rapid weight gain has been debunked . . . for the most part. While many dieters, both rapid and slow losers, will regain some or all of the weight lost, those who see larger initial losses often end up at a lower weight than people who drop smaller amounts. The reason? Bigger changes on the scale and in the mirror are more motivating than the slow-and-steady approach. People are more likely to stick to healthy habits when they are seeing big results.
Intensity. The one caveat to this is rapid weight-loss achieved in an unhealthy manner. Dieters choosing radical methods–such as juice fasting for long periods, over-the-counter stimulants, or other types of unregulated vitamin-deficient crash diets–will generally regain all of their weight. Any “diet” that cannot be transitioned into real-life habits once the initial weight loss has been achieved will likely result in weight gain in the long term.
Understanding what, when, and how much your body needs of key nutrients and food groups is not second nature. When your tooth hurts, you go to the dentist–you don’t try to drill it and fill it yourself. Weight loss methods, however, are so accessible to people in books, magazines, websites, and television shows that people tend to mix and match different ideas to make their own eating-habits-and-lifestyle routine. This can sometimes work, but it can also result in failure and emotional detriment. When you feel like you are doing your part but you aren’t seeing results, the emotional toll it takes can set back both your self-esteem and your physical health.
Having a specialist look at your specific profile (age, gender, preexisting conditions, stress level, etc.) and prescribe a food plan tailored to your specific needs can alleviate the stress and emotional pressure of losing weight. Getting a clear diagnosis of what your body needs will allow you to focus your energy on following a protocol, not scrambling to find the next quick fix.
Duration. If you want to lose weight quickly, an event or milestone is a great motivator, but it cannot be your finish line. If you don’t continue to set new goals for yourself, human nature will inevitably set in, leaving you complacent in your achievements, allowing you to slip back into old habits.
Setting goals that are reasonably high is the key. If you set a goal to lose 50 pounds, but only have 25 to lose, you are setting yourself up for failure. If, however, you set an ambitious timeframe to lose the 25 pounds, you will likely have more success and feel more motivation overall, even if you fall a bit shy of your target. Additionally, having weekly meetings and a nutrition team at your disposal will help keep you accountable week to week as your deadline closes in.
Bottom Line. When trying to slim down after the holidays, remember my mantra of frequency, intensity, and duration: avoid frequent yo-yo diets, don’t take intense unhealthy measures to drop pounds, and never flip-flop back and forth between unhealthy and healthy habits or use drastic measures for a long duration. v
Dr. Bo Rosenblat is a board-certified medical doctor and Chief Physician of Dr. Bo’s Diet Center with office locations in Hewlett and Manhasset. For more information about Dr. Bo’s Diet program, please call 516-284-8248 or visit www.DrBosDiet.com.