- Setting "reasonable" goals. The belief is that setting an ambitious goal leads to frustration and disappointment. The research is clear, setting more ambitious goals leads to more ambitious results.
- Studies clearly show in many areas that goal setting works. Certainly in other areas, such as sales, we are taught to "think big" and set our goals high. Studies prove this applies to weight loss as well, so set the goal you ultimately want. My job as a coach is to keep you motivated and not let you get frustrated.
- Small sustained changes over time simply don't work. This myth is one that leads to the plateau and frustration problems of many. The theory is that if you want to lose a pound a week you need to cut 3,500 calories a week or 500 calories a day. If you simply cut 250 calories a day you should lose 1/2 pound a week. Unfortunately no, this only works very short term. For many reasons it's simply an unreasonable strategy. First we must be maintaining (not gaining) for this formula to work at all. Second, it takes a certain amount of energy to move your weight around, the less you weigh, the easier it is to do, well, everything. It's easy to fill a backpack with just 10lbs and walk around the block then remove it and see how easy the second lap is compared to the first. That being said, everyday activities start to burn fewer calories, muscles do shrink (those muscles that get you off the couch in particular don't need to be quite so large) and your metabolic rate slows down.
With this in mind, you can make small changes, but you will have to make additional new small changes continuously in order to continuously lose weight.
- Sex is exercise. Sorry, you'll have to get out of bed and move. The average sex act lasts 6 minutes (according to the NEJM ~ not personal experience) and isn't as vigorous as we think. An average man will burn 21 calories during sex, or 14 watching television.
- yo-yo diets increase health risk. Rest assured if you lost and gained the data don't support this association. You will not die because you lost and were unsuccessful at maintaining your loss. You may try again.
- You have to lose slowly: Again false. What is true is that you have to make changes you can sustain in the long term, but for some reason some obese people lose faster than others. It's also not "all water" unless you have a serious problem with sodium and water retention, you don't "just lose water" the first week. However, fat cells do have a high water content, so that part of the myth is partly true.
- Eat Breakfast: This one is true if you regularly eat breakfast and think skipping it saves calories, it won't. Two Studies done where people were randomly assigned to eat breakfast or not suggested the effect on weight loss had more to do with baseline breakfast habits. However, other studies showed a decrease in ability to perform memory tasks in adults who had skipped breakfast. Another retrospective study of persons who had lost 70lbs or more and kept it off for 5 years found that all the participants ate breakfast daily. The effect on metabolic rate is present, but fairly small, but who wants to reduce their ability to remember? Eat Breakfast.
Of course weight loss amounts to calories in vs calories out but there is so much that affects calories in IE stress, emotions, hunger, as well as so many things that affect calories out stress, sleep, exercise, metabolism that dieting is never simple, but it can be done with success. Best of luck. As always, I appreciate your comments and shares.